• The most famous of all Irish laces

    Limerick lace is the most famous of all Irish laces. Established in 1829, it has been worn by thousands of women, including Queen Victoria, American First Lady Edith Roosevelt and Countess Markievicz.

    Limerick lace is a hybrid lace made on a machine made net base. It is a ‘mixed lace’ rather than a ‘true lace’, which would be entirely hand made. Limerick lace comes in two forms:

    • tambour lace, that is made by stretching a net over a frame like a tambourine and drawing threads through it with a hook;
    • needlerun lace is made by using a needle to embroider on a net background.
  • Limerick lace communion veil

    Our first meeting for 2023

    Following the news that Limerick Museum is now open on Saturdays, Friends of Lace have decided to meet on the 4th Saturday of the month from now on until the end of 2023. Our first meeting took place on Saturday, 25 February, and had the purpose to discuss and plan for future activities, approve a group constitution and elect a committee for Friends of Lace. We were joined by Dr. Zara Power, assistant-curator of Limerick Museum.

    Gabriela Avram gave a short presentation on the activities of Friends of Lace since 2017.

    We then discussed and agreed on the constitution of the group.

    We elected seven officers to the Committee.

    And no, we didn’t get to look at any lace piece, and we completely forgot to take any photos.

    For anyone who wishes to join Friends of Lace, please check our constitution and send us a message expressing your wish to join. You will be added to our mailing list and kept up-to-date with our activities. Our next event is scheduled for Saturday, 25 March 2023, from 11am to 1pm in the Limerick Museum on Henry Street. More details to follow.

  • Introductory lacemaking workshops for UL students

    At the invitation of the @ULCrafts Society, Eva Ryley and Gabriela Avram, from Toni O’Malley’s lace-making class, led two introductory Limerick lace workshops on October 24 and again on November 7 2022 with two groups of students at the University of Limerick. The images below are from the last session.

    We shared with the students a brief presentation of the history of Limerick lace recorded by Dr. Matthew Potter for last year’s Lifelong Learning Festival, we showed them exemplars of Limerick lace from our own collections, as well as contemporary lace made by Eva, and we introduced the tools of the trade. Each student received a Limerick lace beginner kit.

    The students chose a pattern to work on, learnt how to outline the piece and 1-2 basic stitches.

    As the time dedicated for the session was of only 3h, just one or two students managed to finish their pieces, but they all got a good idea of how laborious lace making is.

  • Heritage Week 2022 – The legacy of Amy Whitelegge – lace designer, lacemaker and teacher

    On Monday, 15 August 2022, as part of Heritage Week 2022, we organised a pop-up exhibition and a presentation by invited speaker Merrie O’Sullivan.

    Merrie O’Sullivan presented the lace collection of her grandmother, Amy Whitelegge, who made and taught lace in Ireland. The collection included a stunningly beautiful wedding dress and a sampler of Amy’s work, with many intricate stitches. The collection displayed a wide variety of filling stitches and tambour, tape lace, Carrickmacross lace and crochet lace, as well as original artistic designs. The presentation is available here.

    The idea of creating a digital catalogue of lace pieces found in private collections (such as the one presented ), with the view of recording these and using them as educational resources, was presented. The creation of an all-Ireland community for people interested in lace history, lace making, lace design and continuing the tradition of Irish laces in the 21st century was also discussed. You can check the slides here.

    Dr. Matthew Potter welcoming the participants

    The event took place at the Limerick Museum, where several lace pieces from the Florence Vere O’Brien collection, on loan from Veronica Rowe, are currently on display.

  • Amazing Lace Symposium 2019

    The Limerick Museum in collaboration with Friends of Lace are inviting you to the Amazing Lace Symposium 2019  that will take place in the Absolute Hotel in Limerick on Saturday, 12 October 2019, from 10am to 5pm. 

    Friends of Lace are  a local group of lace makers formed in 2017 in Limerick with the mission to bring Limerick lace to public attention by contributing to the preservation, documentation and research on existing artefacts in museum and private collections, creating teaching resources and supporting novel interpretations and uses of Limerick lace.

    The theme of this year’s symposium will be  Limerick Lace – The Memory of the Cloth. Limerick lace production touched many lives during its existence, becoming part of the socio-economical and historical fabric of Limerick and Ireland. Memories are embodied by the cloth withholding traces of the lives of the makers and the receivers. 

    The symposium will include presentations from invited speakers, discussions on the topic of lace making and promoting lace making as a living craft. Here is the detailed programme:


    9:30   Registration and coffee; Exhibition set up

    10:00 Welcome address: Matthew Potter & Giordana Giache

    10:15 Introductions: lace groups and organisations, lace makers and types of lace represented, other connections to lace.

    11:15 Break; Exhibition open and networking

    11:30  Invited talk: Women in the Workplace in 19th Century Limerick’  by Sharon Slater

    Sharon Slater is a local historian with primary focus on Nineteenth Century Limerick City. She was awarded the National Heritage Hero Award 2017 by the National Heritage Council for her work in showcasing the history of Limerick. She is the author of several book on various aspects of Limerick’s life.

    12:00 Invited talk:‘Lifting the Veil on Lace-making in South Armagh’ by Rosie Finnegan-Bell.

    Rosie Finnegan-Bell is one of the founding members of the South Armagh Lace Collective and is the current Chairperson of the group.  She lives in the townland of Glassdrummonaghy near the village of Culloville and  she comes from a long line of lace-makers in her family. She has been making lace for over 15 years and first learned to make lace with local expert Mary McMahon in classes run by the South Armagh Rural Women’s Network in Crossmaglen.   

    Rosie now teaches the traditional skills of Carrickmacross lace-making at monthly workshops, she designs her own patterns and makes bespoke lace pieces under her own label ‘Lace, Love and Forget-me-nots’. She has been researching and collecting lace stories from the locality for over a decade and is committed to telling the largely untold story of lace-making in South Armagh.   Rosie has been instrumental in promoting the profile of the South Armagh Lace Collective locally, regionally and nationally.

    12:30  Invited talk: ‘Lifting the Veils: The Good Shepherd Magdalene Laundry in Limerick’  by Evelyn Glynn 

    Evelyn Glynn is a psychotherapist & visual artist based in Co. Galway. She studied printmaking (LSAD, 2008) and completed an MA in fine art at LSAD (November 2011). She holds an MA in Community Development from NUI, Galway (1992) and has worked in the domestic violence sector since the late 90s. Her art practice explores hidden histories in relation to women’s lives and experiences. She has undertaken extensive research on the subject of Limerick’s Good Shepherd Magdalene laundry including her thesis ‘Left Holding the Baby: Remembering and Forgetting the Magdalene Laundry’, and a website prepared as part of her MA – Breaking the Rule of Silence.  

    13:00 Lunch

    14:00 Lace making demonstrations, exhibition and networking time

    15:00 Coffee/tea break

    15:15 Invited talk: ‘Limerick lace and the memory of the cloth’ by Giordana Giache  

    Giordana Giache  is a lace-maker and lecturer at Limerick School of Art and Design in Limerick. She has been designing costumes for theatre and dance performances, as well as for film productions. She is one of the founding members of Lumen Street Theatre ensemble.

    15:45 Invited talk: ‘Memories of clothes: shoppers and shop workers in Limerick 1940-80‘  by Maura Cronin

    Maura Cronin has retired in August 2018 from a Senior Lecturerership in the History Department, Mary Immaculate College where she taught and supervised research in Irish social, political, oral and local history. In 2000 she established the college’s Oral History Archive, which currently holds over three thousand recordings on many aspects of Irish social history in Limerick and beyond. She is currently involved, along with Dr Helene-Bradley Davies (Geography Department, MIC) and Dr Ursula Callaghan in preparing a publication on memories of shopping in Limerick city, the project being funded by Limerick City and County Council.

    16:15 Discussion on future collaborations to preserve and promote Irish Lace

    17:00 Closing; taking apart exhibition 

    Lace makers are invited to bring finished pieces or work-in-progress for an ad-hoc exhibition and lace making demonstrations.

    Tea, coffee and a light lunch will be served. Attendance is free and everybody is welcome, but prior registration is compulsory. Please register following the link below:


  • Lace piece from Toni's class

    Lace making classes- new term

    New Limerick Lace classes are starting at the Granary (in the Library) on 12 September 2019 (Thursday mornings 10:30 to 12:30). The classes will take place weekly for 10 weeks. For registering your interest or for getting more information, call Toni O’Malley on 087 277 5113.

    The photo shows the work of Eva Ryley, who started working on it in 2016, when she joined Toni O’Malley’s class. The shawl took over two years to finish, it is made on silk net, and both the tambour lace and the needle-run lace technique were used in this piece.

  • Heritage Week 2019

    As part of Heritage Week 2019, Friends of lace in collaboration with the Limerick Museum are organising an exhibition of Limerick lace pieces, designs and related objects.

    The exhibition will be launched by Councillor Michael Sheahan, Mayor of the City and County of Limerick on Tuesday, 13 August at 5:45pm. Everybody welcome! The exhibition will be open from the 13 to the 25 of August in Saint Mary Cathedral in Limerick.

    A free lace making class for beginners is being organised by Limerick Archives as part of Heritage Week, where you will be shown how to make pieces of lace. All materials included.
    Admission is free, but booking in advance is required as places are limited. To book, contact 061-556535 Limerick Archives. The class will run twice, from 10:30am to 12pm, and again from 12pm to 1:30pm.
    See https://www.heritageweek.ie/whats-on/event/lace-making-classes

  • Limerick lace – intangible cultural heritage

    In July 2019, Limerick lace was added to the National Inventory of Intangible Heritage due to the efforts of Dr Matthew Potter, Curator, Limerick Museum and Dr Susan Frawley of Pennywell Lace and Friends of Lace.

    30 elements of living Irish culture were given official recognition at the event which took place at Waterways Ireland.

    Other practices being recognised were Carrickmacross  lace making, Irish Crochet Lace and Mountmellick embroidery.

    Pictured at the presentation of the additions to the Inventory in Dublin were: Dr Matthew Potter; Eileen McCaffrey, Pennywell Lace and Friends of Lace , Josepha Madigan, Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and Caroline Ahern, Pennywell Lace and Friends of Lace.

  • Handover of the Florence Vere O’Brien Lace Collection

    The official handover of the Florence Vere O’Brien Limerick Lace Collection to Limerick Museum by her granddaughter Veronica Rowe took place on Thursday 20 June 2019 in the Hunt Museum.

    The handover was attended by Deputy Mayor of Limerick City and County, Cllr Gerard Mitchell and Dr.Matthew Potter as well as by Veronica Rowe, the granddaughter of Florence.

    Florence Vere O’Brien was central to reviving and promoting the brand over a 40-year period between 1883 and 1922. To honour her memory and the influence she had on the lace industry in Limerick and beyond, Florence’s granddaughter Veronica Rowe kindly agreed to hand over her collection to the Limerick Museum on long term loan.

    The collection, which is the most important private collection of Limerick lace, contains lace pieces, lace patterns and other related objects, mostly dating back to the time of Florence Vere O’Brien.

    Deputy Mayor of Limerick City and County Council Cllr Gerard Mitchell, , thanked Veronica Rowe for her generosity in donating the collection on behalf of the people of Limerick, emphasising that this is one of the most significant donations to Limerick Museum for many years. 

    Dr. Matthew Potter said it was a privilege for him to accept the donation on behalf the Limerick Museum. At the same time, he thanked the Hunt Museum for agreeing to put the most important part of the collection on public display in the beautiful Captain’s Room, and spoke about the excellent collaboration between the two museums.

  • Amazing Lace Symposium 2018

    The Limerick Museum in collaboration with Friends of Lace would like to invite you to the Amazing Lace symposium that will take place in the Absolute Hotel in Limerick on Saturday, 17 November 2018, from 10am to 5pm.

    Friends of Lace are a local group of lace makers formed in 2017 in Limerick with the mission to bring Limerick lace to public attention by contributing to the preservation, documentation and research on existing artefacts in museum and private collections, creating teaching resources and supporting novel interpretations and uses of Limerick lace.

    The theme of the symposium will be Lace Making in the Modern World – Tradition and Interpretation.

    The symposium will include presentations from invited speakers Fiona Harrington and Sara Robertson, discussions on the topic of lace preservation, promoting lace making as a living craft, teaching lace making, and lace commercialisation.

    Lace makers are invited to bring finished pieces or work-in-progress for a small ad-hoc exhibition.

    Attendance is free and everybody is welcome, but registration is compulsory.

    You can register via Eventbrite.


    9:30   Registration and coffee; Exhibition set up

    10:00 Opening talk: Matthew Potter – Remembering Limerick Lace Makers

    10:15 Invited talk: Fiona Harrington – Irish Lace: Influence, Innovation and Education

    10:45 Invited talk: Sara Robertson – Lit Lace for Performance

    11:15 Break; Exhibition open 

    11:30  Gabriela Avram – Friends of Lace

    11:45  Updates from lace groups, lace projects and teachers

    13:00 Lunch

    14:00 Exhibition open 

    14:30 Panel discussion: Restoration and conservation of lace

    15:15 Coffee/tea break; Exhibition open

    15:45 Panel discussion: Teaching and promoting lace

    16:30 Closing address; taking apart exhibition

    Invited talks:

    Fiona Harrington – Irish Lace: Influence, Innovation and Education

    Artist Fiona Harrington will discuss her studio practice and detail her journey from paint to Lace. Looking at what’s happening on the international art scene, Fiona will consider the importance of tradition, technique and innovation in lacemaking.Fiona Harrington has been working as a professional artist for almost 20 years. Following her studies in Fine Art at Crawford College, she spent a decade painting and exhibiting on the Beara Peninsula in West Cork and New Zealand. She became interested in Lace while later studying for a degree in Textile Design at the National College of Art in Dublin and completed a period of lace training at the Kenmare Lace and Design Centre in Co. Kerry in 2012.She received the RDS Graduate prize in 2013 for her lace work and went on to receive a National Craft Award for Lacemaking, the Eleanor De La Branchardiere Prize and the Traditional Lacemakers of Ireland Award.In 2014 she was awarded a percent for art commission for a permanent artwork that combined handmade lace with plexiglass and computer controlled engraving. She has taken part in numerous exhibitions in Ireland and abroad and has been involved in a number of collaborative projects exploring how lace can be positioned within the contect of contemporary art and design.Fiona has produced 4 collections of comtemporary Irish lace design, which combines her love of painting with her skills as a lacemaker.Most recently, she was invited to present her work and the story of Irish Lace at the Textile Arts Centre in New York.She is currently based in Dublin where she continues to develop her lace practice.


    Sara Robertson – Lit Lace for Performance

    Sara Robertson and Sarah Taylor have been working together for 4 years on craft-based artistic approaches to exploring smart textiles through a deep understanding of material properties and the combination of traditional textile processes with new technologies. They have recently formed a business Sara + Sarah – Smart Textile Design offering a bespoke service to enable the textile industry to innovate in the area of smart textiles and continue to work on collaborative projects that explore the creative application and artistic potential of smart textiles in different contexts. Sara and Sarah also work in part-time academic roles.

    Dr Sara Robertson is Tutor (Research) for Smart Textiles and leads the new specialism Soft Systems: Smart Textiles as part of the MA Textiles Programme at the Royal College of Art, London. Previous to that she was Programme Director for Textiles and Researcher in Craft Innovation and Smart Materials at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, University of Dundee. Sara has extensively explored thermochromics dye systems over the last 14 years and the design potential of chromic material and digital function. Recent work, Digital Lace (Robertson & Taylor) won the International Symposium of Wearable Computers 2014 Design Exhibition Jury Award: Fibre Arts, showcasing at the EMP building and Microsoft Research Labs, Seattle.

    Sarah Taylor is Senior Research Fellow at Edinburgh Napier University. She has worked as an academic and research practitioner in the field of smart textiles for over 20 years and is specialised in light-emitting textiles. Sarah completed her research degree in 1995 which explored the visual potential of fibre optic technology within textiles. She has particular interest in the aesthetics of light within cloth and in using different technologies to enhance or activate visual effects or interaction for example. Sarah has exhibited craft-based design work at major national and international exhibitions over the years and has worked in collaboration with experts from other design and technology disciplines and enjoys the diversity of working on a range of cross-disciplinary projects.