Domestic Industry of Lace Making in Ireland

From A Renascence of the Irish Art of Lace-making by A.S.C.

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The following notice of the action initiated by the Committee was issued in 1884:


I. The making of lace in Ireland is a domestic industry, practised by some hundreds of peasants in their homes, by communities in Convents, by children in Industrial and other Schools, and by others. Great skill in the work has been developed since the earlier part of the present century when the industry was introduced to the country through the efforts of Philanthropists.

II. But the development of this skill has not been accompanied with the production and use of well-designed patterns. The merits of the Irish lace, through which a variable trade has been established, rest upon excellent workmanship applied to a few forms of somewhat stereotyped and poor design.

III. Consequently the fluctuating success of Irish lace-making is traceable to an evanescent and uncertain fancy of consumers for something "quaint and original," or to a sentimental desire for what is rather detrimentally called a "National production." The absence of a regulated supply of well-drawn and composed patterns seems to prevent the industry from becoming established upon either an artistic or a sound commercial basis.

IV. The means of organising a supply of such patterns exist in the Schools of Art of the United Kingdom. But an incentive is necessary to call those means into operation and to induce the lace-makers to feel that it is to their interest to adopt improved designs. Looking to the social advantages of developing this domestic industry in the midst of a considerable agricultural and fishing population similar in some important respects to those of France and Belgium, it is proposed to raise a fund for the distribution of new patterns amongst the scattered lace-workers of Ireland.

V. The steps proposed to be taken as soon as a fund, say of £500, be raised are as follows:

1. To offer money prizes for the production of designs for the various classes of work of which there are upwards of seven classes grouped under the name "Irish Lace;" Needlepoint Lace (from Youghal, Innishmacsaint, Cappoquin, Kenmare, Killarney); 2, Pillow Lace (from Parsonstown); 3, Drawn Linen Embroidery (Newtown Barry, Cappoquin); 4, Cut Linen Work (Carrickmacross); 5, Crochet (Co. Cork, Clones); 6, Braid and Cord Lace (Ardee); 7, Embroidery on Net (Limerick); 8, Cambric Embroidery (Donegal); all of which may be put to numerous uses in respect of dress; domestic use for curtains, table-cloths, etc.; and ecclesiastical use—albs, altar frontals, chalice veils, etc.

2. To select, with the advice of recognised authorities, a dozen or more suitable patterns.

3. To order, with a guarantee of payment to the workers, specimens of such patterns executed by picked lace-workers in various districts.

4. To exhibit these specimens in some public institution in London, Dublin, Belfast, Cork, and elsewhere.

5. To make photographs of these specimens for circulation to subscribers to the fund and to dealers in lace.

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