Newbridge Silverware hopes to draw an extra 100,000 visitors to Kildare every year with its behind-the-scenes factory tour, which was launched this morning.
Visitors to the Newbridge showrooms can now book a 45-minute tour of the factory, learn about its history and watch Ireland's most skilled cutlers and silverware craftsmen hard at work as they manufacture the company's renowned cutlery and jewellery.
The investment will create an extra 10 jobs in the coming months and follows an investment of over €300,000 by the company in enhancing its tourism offering, including work at its Museum of Style Icons.
Those on the tour will be taken through the story of the factory's foundation in 1934, when Sheffield cutlers arrived in the former British army barracks town of Newbridge to teach skilled but unemployed Irishmen the cutlery making trade. They will also hear the stories of the generations of Kildare craftsmen - many belonging to the same families - who have worked there since.
Visitors are then led around the working factory floor and can see the Newbridge craft workers create and finish its iconic jewellery pieces.
Newbridge Silverware CEO William Doyle told a gathering at the on-site Café Carlton restaurant this morning that the company's craftspeople and workers were fully behind the idea of opening their workplace to the general public.
"There is a desire to tell their story and tell the story of the many who had gone before them," he said. The company has employed some 2,000 people in its 84 years.
"We have the people, we have the stories and we have the craft," said Mr Doyle.
The tour costs €10 per adult and will run three times daily, at 10.30am, 11.30am and 2pm.
Newbridge Silverware also unveiled today an extension to its popular Museum of Style Icons, situated above the factory and sales showrooms, which houses a large collection of Hollywood memorabilia.
The extension increases its floor space by almost 50%, and is currently housing a visiting exhibition called 'LBD, The Little Black Dress'. It features couture dresses from designers including Chanel, Dior, Versace, YSL, Karl Lagerfield, Jean Paul Gaultier and more, and will run until January 31. Admission to the Museum of Style Icons is €7.