The crafty nuns who pinpointed skills of a lifetime
LITTLE did the Poor Clare Nuns realise when they brought lace-making to Kenmare after the Famine how the craft would survive - and that it would be still be turning heads 150 years later.
Made with a needle and thread and based on the detached buttonhole stitch, delicate Kenmare lace has fans all around the world. In March, international craft makers will descend on the Kerry town between March 19-22 to attend workshops in nine different lace disciplines.
The country's favourite problem-solving hotelier, John Brennan, general manager of The Park Hotel in Kenmare, yesterday posed with model Aishling O Connell to launch the Kenmare Lace Festival Fashion Show, which takes place in his hotel on Friday March 20.
The €40-a-ticket show is limited to 80 guests and will feature both local and national designers including work by Helen Cody - her work recently featured on the front of every Irish newspaper with pictures of footballer Stephanie Roche wearing her peach lace dress.
Also showing lace in Kenmare on March 20, will be bridal designer Delphine Grandjouan, who hails from France and is now based in Kerry. Talents include Tralee-based designer Tina Griffin and Alice Halliday from Skibbereen who handworks vintage and re-cycled lace.
The Poor Clare Nuns arrived in Kenmare in 1861 to teach the local children and give them a skill with which they could earn a living. King Edward VII purchased a collarette for Queen Alexandra and among her wedding gifts, Queen Elizabeth II received an antique bed cover of Kenmare needlepoint.
Prizes in the Kenmare Biennial Lace Festival, which had its origins in 'The Gathering Ireland 2013' went to lace makers from Scotland, Ireland, Australia and Italy.
The rare lace veil pictured above is part of the unique collection housed at the Kenmare Lace and Design Centre in the town's Heritage Centre.