Lace making in the 18th century in Ireland appears to have been very much a local affair. The Dublin Society (now called the Royal Dublin Society) was formed in 1731 to promote agriculture and industry in Ireland with lace making as one of the industries being encouraged. However, it was in the 19th century that lace making, as an industrial art, became a noteworthy trade. With the exception of Limerick Lace, which was a private commercial venture started in 1829, most of the well known Irish laces were developed with a view to alleviating poverty after the devastation of the Great Famines of 1845 to 1847. Lace items produced varied from simple lace handkerchiefs to elaborate wedding dresses in Irish lace and wedding veils for the Royal families of Europe.
Irish Crochet Lace Patterns
Irish Crochet lace differed from the continental forms in the way it was designed. Crochet is based around the concept of the simple chain stitch but Irish Crochet lace makers developed their own variations of this stitch, designing intricate lace motifs such as the Irish Crochet Rose Square motif in the photograph. Patterns were then designed on paper for the layout of these crochet motifs. The completed crochet motifs were then pinned into place and joined with a variety of filling stiches. Sometimes smaller motifs were joined together in strips to make lace trim which was then sold by the yard. Irish lace was normally white or cream in colour. [Read more…]
The first of the large scale making of Irish Handmade Lace began with Limerick Lace. Items made included lace for dresses and bridal veils as well as smaller accessories such as lace gloves, lace collars and lace trimmed hankerchiefs. In 1829, Charles Walker, an Englishman married to the daughter of a lace manufacturer, came to Limerick to set up a lace making factory. The availability of inexpensive labour, who were already skilled in sewing, were part of the attraction for him. He brought 24 trained staff with him to help develop his business. Other factories soon opened and by the 1840’s the making of Limerick Lace had also been introduced into convents and similar institutions. [Read more…]
Carrickmacross Lace is one of the most famous of the laces of Ireland. It has been the Irish lace of choice for top designers for wedding dresses and wedding veils. It originated from an adaptation of applique needlework brought back from Italy by Mrs Porter, the wife of Reverend John Grey Porter, Rector of Donaghmoyne, Co. Monaghan in 1820. While it predates the Great Famines of 1845 to 1847 by twenty five years, even then it’s development as a lace was promoted to alleviate the poverty in the area. [Read more…]
The County Cork Industrial Association was a co-operative of lace makers based in the south of Ireland at the end of the 19th Century and beginning of the 20th century. It was part of the Irish Industries Association, an organisation founded by the Countess of Aberdeen, Ishbel Hamilton Gordon, in May 1886 as a co-operative movement. Lady Aberdeen was the Vicereine of Ireland from 1886 to 1887 and 1906 to 1915. As it’s patroness, she was one of the driving forces behind the success of this organisation. [Read more…]