Ireland has always been known for its master craftspeople, whose works of art, such as crystal, jewelry and lace, continue to dazzle and inspire.
If you’d like to learn about the beauty of intricate and delicate Irish lace, you’ll be pleased to discover that this elegant form of needlework has a long and colorful history.
These days, antique Irish lace is highly-prized as a collectible, and artisans make new designs which echo thousands of years of Gaelic history and culture.
Irish lace adds richness to a range of items, such as wedding veils, handkerchiefs and tablecloths. Now, let’s take a look at some more interesting information about this lovely form of needlework.
Learn about the Poignant History of Irish Lace
Irish lace is about much more than beauty…
Because this form of needlework permitted females to earn money for their families when times were hard (before it was common for women to work), it actually helped to support generations of Emerald Isle families, while also empowering women to take control of their own careers and earning potential.
In fact, many stellar examples of Irish lace-making were likely created by very hard-working women, who were doing all that they could to put food on the table during a very challenging era in Emerald Isle history.
During the Great Famine of the 1840s, women who had some skill in needlework were frequently able to refine their skills, by learning how to fashion lace by hand. Since the tools needed to produce this beautiful form of needlework were quite inexpensive and totally portable, getting started with lacemaking didn’t require much start-up capital.
In fact, a clump of cotton, a shuttle and a crochet hook were all that was needed to tat Irish lace.
Types of Irish Lace
Kenmare lace is one famous example of this Gaelic art form. Often referred to as “needle-lace”, this style is derived from a detached buttonhole stich. In the old days, linen thread was utilized in order to make Kenmare lace. Today, this type of thread isn’t made, so cotton is used instead.
In order to craft Kenmare lace, two bits of cloth are required. A pattern and mat contact are placed over top of these pieces of fabric. Then, thread is placed over the outline and held in place via stitching. By working inwards, from the outside edge to the center, the lacework is created.
Tension of thread gives the pattern its distinctive look. After the work is complete, thread is released from the cloth backing. What remains is beautiful and very romantic in appearance.
Irish crochet is another form of Irish needlework, which is widely-renowned for its loveliness and intricacy. The first examples of Irish crochet appeared during the famine, when charitable organizations sought to boost the economy by holding free Irish crochet instructional classes, for anyone who was interested.
With Irish crochet, motifs in the pattern are created one by one, and then assembled as a piece, afterwards. Examples of Irish crochet are Rosslea and Clones lacework…
Irish Lace is Part of Emerald isle Wedding Tradition
If you’re looking for a romantic way to enjoy Irish lace in your own life, why not make it a part of your wedding ceremony?
For centuries, brides-to-be have followed Irish wedding tradition by tucking handkechiefs (embroidered with Irish lace) into their wedding gowns. It’s believed that carrying a handkerchief will bring good luck to the bride.
Known as a “magic hanky”, the bride is meant to turn her hanky into a baby bonnet for her firstborn.
If the infant is female, the mother should remove the hanky’s stitches later on, so that the baby girl can carry the same hankie when she grows up and walks down the aisle.
These special hankies are treasured heirlooms in many Irish families.
Of course, you may follow another wonderful Irish tradition, by choosing our beautiful 14k Ruby and Diamond Celtic Engagement Ring (as shown above).
Adorned with gorgeous Celtic knot work, this elegant design is crafted by hand, right in the Emerald Isle.