View on

Irish Lace

Have you ever felt a truly fine piece of lace slide through your fingers? You should ... at least once in your life. Needle lace, one of the most sought-after laces, is made from a thread that is truly finer than human hair.

Have you ever taken a moment to study the intricate beauty woven throughout an aged lace heirloom or family treasure? And then have you ever taken a moment to study the design, the craftsmanship, the inspiration of such a piece that was not created and produced in stamp-like fashion courtesy of our all-important computers or produced by a machine that could spin out perfect little reproductions of said lace in yards per seconds versus inches per hour?

As far back as I can remember I've been fascinated with Irish Lace. Unfortunately, I know of or have never seen any lace family treasures ... but I'll borrow others. I realize that lace comes in and out of vogue -- but never for me. I can't honestly say why it is so mesmerizing ... it just is!

One of my lifetime goals, and I won't say it's on my Bucket List, is to travel to Ireland just to find and acquire true Irish Lace ... and Aran Sweaters ... and Waterford crystal ... and the wool ... and experience the land from whence so many of my ancestors hailed from, they were O'Haras after all.

For a little history of Irish Lace: The people of the Emerald Island have contributed greatly to the world of fine lace. Ireland's climate is perfect for growing flax or linen which made the development of lace manufacturing a natural choice.

Towards the end of the 16th century, many lacemaking schools were in operation where young girls were taught to make lace. Lady Arabella Denny, patron of lacemaking in Ireland, made sure that the best lacemaking was rewarded with prizes and money. The "Dublin Society," a club formed by Irish patriots, supervised lace manufacturing.

In 1703 only 2,333 yards of lace were passed through the Irish custom house. This was primarily bone lace made by young girls in Dublin for the English lace-trimmed ruffs so popular at the time.

It wasn't until after the Irish famine, 1848 or so that attempts were made to produce Irish lace on a larger scale. At that time, lace-making schools were opened throughout Ireland in an attempt to spread the craft production of lace. It was then that other kinds of lace were introduced, improvised, and created, thus beginning what we know as Irish lace today; Irish Point, Irish Crochet, Youghal Needle Lace - of which Queen Mary wore in her royal court gowns.

The history of handcrafts is fascinating to me. To think of even one of these arts as being lost is like losing a piece of our collective human history. Throughout the ages women have desired to create beauty both for fashion and domestic purposes. We all have the misconception, at times, that primitive cultures didn't create anything frivolous. While most everything those peoples did create was indeed practical, their embellishments and efforts at beauty is always inspiring and touching. Beauty is really something that unites us all, from culture to culture and generation to generation. It's sad to think that even one of those links, those crafts can disappear.

In Ireland, lace designs and motifs were developed by families. Those patterns were closely guarded secrets passed from mother to daughter. The details were kept so secret that many of them were lost as the families either died or fled the poverty for other lands.

Take time to create beauty. Whether it's cooking, or tatting, or knitting, or writing stories, or painting, or gardening ... or anything else your mind can create, be sure and indulge. Our world will be better for it. Never forget to pass along your mother and grandmother's secrets to those who are coming along behind us. The connection between the past and the future is what extends the human spirit. We need a lot more of that these days.

If you are at all interested in Irish Lace, I suggest visiting this site.

Go and make some beauty today.

You may also like


2007-2016 Stephanie Wilson. Powered by Blogger.