Glass-Making at Glasshouse, Shinrone
In the townland of Glasshouse, outside Shinrone, on private farmland is a unique furnace from the 17th century which was used to make glass.
During the years 1620-1660, Offaly was one of the main glassmaking centres of Ireland. Around this time, French Huguenot glassmakers, such as Phillip Bigoe and Annanias Hensey, came to the county where they constructed small glassmaking factories known as glasshouses. These glasshouses were located close to woodlands of oak and ash, which provided fuel for their glassmaking furnaces. The wood-fired glass furnace at Glasshouse is the only upstanding furnace in Ireland, Britain and France. Today the surface of the furnace interior glistens with the distinctive blue-green glass often described as 'forest-glass'. Wood-fired glass furnaces were replaced by coal-fired glass factories in coastal ports, such as Dublin, Cork and the famous Waterford factory, bringing an end to the period when glass was made in Offaly.
A 3d survey of the structure has been undertaken and can be seen on http://www.offaly.ie/eng/Services/Heritage/Digital-Media/Archaeology-3d/
In 2018 the 17th century furnace was conserved as part of the European Year of Cultural Heritage work with Creative Ireland funding. Reconstruction artist, Paul Francis, visited the site with archaeologist Caimin O'Brien and the image below by Paul is how it is thought the furnace might have looked during production in the 1600s.
For a comprehensive report on research at the site see the 2014 Article Published in Post Medieval Archaeology 'Excavation of an early 17th-century glassmaking site at Glasshouse, Shinrone, Co. Offaly, Ireland' Volume 48 Issue 1 (June 2014), pp. 45-89 with contributions by Jean Farrelly, Caimin O'Brien and others. To purchase a copy of this article contact Maney Online