Glass and more glass!
I'm a big fan of Waterford crystal (and Bohemian crystal...) and visiting the Visitor's Center was really the only reason we went to Waterford. It was...interesting. I especially liked the engraving area and watching the process-such patience! But the tour guide didn't seem to be that enthused and the tour was actually quite short.
My mom had an interesting theory about the place. She thought that it was all for show and that the "real" crystal factory was a mile or two up the road. It just didn't seem to be that busy and there wasn't a lot going on.
Unique Suggestions: If you have to go, thenI don't reccommend buying anything at their store. although the prices are supposed to be cheaper there, they're not. Find a store soemwhere in Waterford, or even Cork. Blarney Woolen Mills in Cork had some great deals.
Fun Alternatives: http://www.waterfordvisitorcentre.com/
Waterford Crystal ~over-hyped
Waterford is associated with crystal (ie. cut glass) and I have to admit, some of it is beautiful. But a visit to the site where it's made was quite disappointing. The tour around the plant to see how the glass is blown and cut was very quick as though they couldn't wait to get us in the shop, and wasn't even particularly interesting in any case.
Unique Suggestions: The shop is huge (as big as the factory I shouldn't wonder) with a massive selection of goods for sale. If you like Waterford Crystal A LOT you will be very happy to browse around here.
If you want to find out how...
If you want to find out how people have been living in Ireland in the past you should visit the Irish National Heritage Park in Wexford. You will find this place to the north not that far from Waterford.
For more information, please have a look on my Wexford travelogue to the upper right corner of this page.