When choosing thoughtful and iconic gifts from Ireland for a foreign dignitary, it is not uncommon for members of the Irish government to opt for timeless Waterford Crystal gifts. Despite the closure of the factory in Waterford back in 2009, the range of products still produced by its smaller compatriot House of Waterford Crystal, which opened in 2010, are still much sought after particularly in the United States.
Each year, Waterford Crystal Vases and bowls containing the traditional Irish gift of Shamrock are presented to U.S. presidents at the White House in recognition of the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. To this end, The Irish Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, noted that all state Irish gifts are carefully sourced in Ireland with the emphasis on suitability and value for money.
It was recently reported that successive Taoisigh have given Irish gifts to the value of $52,000 to foreign dignitaries over the past 10 years, including 52 pieces of Waterford Crystal, an Aran sweater and Compact Disc’s. The most notbale of these state gifts was a crystal dragon presented to Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko of Japan by former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern when they visited Ireland back in 2005.
Some of the more notable recipients of Waterford Crystal gifts down through the years include U.S. President Obama and his predecessor George W. Bush, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Russian Premier Vladimir Putin, President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, the King of Belgium, Xana Gusa, president of East Timor, and the presidents of Estonia, India, Serbia and Montenegro, and South Africa, and Prince Abdu Aziz of Saudi Arabia.
Gifts from Irish dignitaries isn’t confined specifically to Waterford Crystal but can include other symbolic gifts such as a hand-painted batik of St. Benedict presented to Pope Benedict by former Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, while on a visit to the Vactican.
The last time German chancellor Angela Merkel visited in 2008, she cleaned up with a damask Irish linen tablecloth while the Queen of England, during her historic visit in 2011, received the “Special Edition Sweeney Guide to the Irish Turf 1501-2001.