Newry and Mourne Museum Presented with Unique Clanrye Lace
Newry and Mourne Museum was delighted to receive a unique sample of lacework from Clanrye Lace Group on Wednesday 26 February, which was inspired by Bagenal’s Castle and the history of the site.
The piece of Clanyre lace work that has been presented to Newry and Mourne Museum has incorporated a wide range of stitching and embroidery techniques found in the original Clanrye Lace - chain stitch, satin stitch, buttonholing, drawn thread and, of course, the Clanrye Twist, which is specific to this type of lace work. The linen for the piece was obtained from Ferguson’s in Banbridge and cotton embroidery thread was used throughout.
Commissioned by Newry and Mourne Museum, the piece took a year to complete. Members of the group each contributed ideas and suggestions with the final lacework referencing many aspects of the castle and the site’s history. The carved head featured in the work refers to the granite head of the woman in the Museum, which is thought to be from the Cistercian Abbey at Newry. Within the lower arch is a wheat stalk symbolising the use of the castle by McCann’s Bakery. The cross represents an inscribed slab, which is thought to be a gravestone that may have originally stood in the cemetery adjoining an earlier monastery in Newry prior to the foundation of the Cistercian Abbey in 1153.
Speaking at the presentation, Newry, Mourne and Down District Council Chairperson, Councillor Charlie Casey said, “The Museum collects for the future and it is important that examples of local crafts are represented in the collection. We would sincerely like to thank Clanrye Lace group for their hard work; the design and exquisite craftmanship is truly amazing. We know this piece will be enjoyed by future generations.”
The Clanrye Lace group formed in 2013 and were soon joined by other enthusiasts. Today there is a core group of six who continue to experiment and work to fine tune their skills. The group began after a group of friends worked together to create an exhibition on Irish lace at the Sean Hollywood Arts Centre in 2012, in honour of a friend who had died of Motor Neuron Disease. One of the founding members of the Group, Kate O’Hanlon said, “We tried to ensure that the exhibited lace represented all of the Irish lace traditions. The research for the exhibition led us to the archives of Newry Mercy Convent where we found their treasure trove of Clanrye Lace. From this a group was formed and work began”.
Kate continues, “We began by writing a simple manual for the lace, an exercise which really obliged us to work out how the art was created. No instructions had remained from the 1930s when Clanrye Lace was last worked. Since 2013, we have had opportunities to display our work at various events, and there is a lot of interest, both locally and internationally”.
The lace will be on display at the Linen Biennial exhibition in Newry and Mourne Museum from 5-10 October. It will then go on permanent display in the Museum after the exhibition.