Carrickmacross lace has a history that reaches back into the early 1800’s when the town of Carrickmacross needed employment for its citizens, especially young women. On a honeymoon trip to Italy, Mrs. Grey Porter, from Carrickmacross and wife of the rector of a neighboring parish, was inspired by Italian lace designs. She and her hand maid learned the appliqué technique by copying the Italian work, and in 1820, established a lace making school which attracted many students. The school grew in popularity, as did the fine quality Carrickmacross lace.
Economic hardship in the 40’s and 50’s saw a decline in the demand for lace, yet production continued, though much less so, until the late 80’s. Realizing the fine quality of workmanship that would be wasted if the lace making ceased, the nuns of the St. Louis Convent established a lace making school both to employ young women in the community and to give shelter to those in need.
The great era of Irish lace ended with World War 1 in 1914, but outworkers at St. Louis Convent continued their tradition of lace making and today, Carrickmacross lace is used by designers all over the world. Queen Elizabeth’s Coronation gown, as well as Princess Diana’s wedding gown were both designed with intricate insets of Carrickmacross lace.
This showroom features several award-winning pieces, including a stunning cascade of daylilies made entirely of lace. On display, as well, are antique lace collars, christening gowns, tablecloths, napkins, and placemats. For purchase are many fine, locally handmade pieces of lacework, including placemats (€200), table runners (€700), christening gowns (€750), bonnets (€ 85), wedding veils (€400), and dainty doilies (€35-60).
Carrickmacross Lace Showroom and Shop
Main Street, Village Square, Carrickmacross, Co. Monaghan
How to get there:
From Dublin, N2 (50 miles) to Carrickmacross
From Belfast, A1 (becomes N1 at Border). At Dundalk, take R178 to Carrickmacross (70 miles.)
Written by Joy Davis - Summer of Travel 2007