Flint glass was made in Ireland from the 1690s. This imitated the English style and much of it was exported to England until prohibited by the Excise Act of 1745. Within ten years, all production of fine glass in Ireland had ceased.
In 1780, the prohibition was removed and several glasshouses were established in Ireland – notably at Waterford, Dublin, Belfast and Cork. These produced flint glass, mainly for export to the Continent and America at much lower prices than English glass.
Until about 1800, this Irish glass had a slightly dusky tint. More efficient furnaces were then installed and a clearer glass, which proved ideal for deep cutting, was produced.
At about the same time, new techniques were developed which allowed blown-moulded glass to be produced in shapes approximating those of cut glass at a much lower cost.
In the 1830s, the English and Americans introduced glass pressing machines capable of producing pieces at a still lower cost. The Irish were unable to compete and the famous Waterford glassworks closed in 1851.
(Moulded glass lacks the sharply defined hair lines left by the mould on pressed glass but the decorations also lack sharpness.)