Quaker tapestry display highlights farming link
Having a ready, consistent and local market for crops and produce is the dream situation for every farmer. With that in mind, farmers living within shouting distance of Mountmellick through the 18th and 19th centuries must have thought they were living the dream.
Thanks to the local Quaker community, their local town was home to agri-based industries that employed up to 8,000 people and swallowed tons of farm produce for milling, brewing, tanning, sugar-making, woollen mills and weaving.
In this year of The Gathering, Mountmellick has decided to celebrate its 300-year Quaker heritage.
Last Saturday the celebrations began with the opening of the Quaker Tapestry exhibition. Crafted in a series of textile panels, the tapestry depicts the history and achievements of the Quakers, or the Society of Friends as they are more correctly named, since their foundation in the 17th century.
Work on the tapestry began in England in 1981 and when it was completed in 1996, it comprised 77 panels of narrative embroidery on specially woven wool cloth.
Over 4,000 men, women and children from 15 different countries contributed to the creation of the work, which is on permanent display at Kendal in Cumbria, England.
Two of the 20 panels coming to Mountmellick are of special interest to Irish people.
One depicts the Quaker relief efforts during the Great Famine that ravaged the country in the late 1840s.