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"Limerick Lace Revival: Mrs. Vere O'Brien's Success in Restoring an Exquisite Craft" | Limerick Gazette Archives

“Limerick Lace Revival: Mrs. Vere O’Brien’s Success in Restoring an Exquisite Craft”

Mrs. Vere O’Brien, a key figure in the revival of Limerick lace, has played a crucial role in preserving and revitalizing this exquisite craft. Initially, the availability of Limerick lace was limited, with only coarse varieties remaining in existence. However, Mrs. O’Brien sought assistance from Lady De Vere, her husband’s aunt and a lace connoisseur, who provided fine Brussels net and threads to overcome this challenge.

With the help of one of the old lace workers, Mrs. Vere O’Brien successfully created an experimental flounce, which served as a testament to the potential of reviving Limerick lace. Encouraged by this initial success, she collected designs, primarily from “rubbings” of old point d’Alencon or Brussels lace, and invested in high-quality thread and net. She then enlisted the help of a few experienced lace workers, who were former factory employees, to create lace from their own homes.

The demand for the revived Limerick lace quickly grew, leading to the establishment of a lace training school in 1891 through the generosity of influential individuals. Recognizing the benefits of centralized management, Mrs. Vere O’Brien took over the lace school in 1893, amalgamating all the workers under her supervision. This arrangement proved highly successful, and a visit to her lace school in Limerick became an engaging and captivating experience, showcasing a wide range of lace designs and exquisite craftsmanship.

In addition to her involvement in the lace industry, Mrs. Vere O’Brien also established classes in County Clare for a delightful specialty known as “Clare embroidery.” These classes were managed at various locations, including the Convent of Mercy in Ennis, under the guidance of the needlework directress, as well as at Mount Callan under Mrs. Tottenham. Mrs. Vere O’Brien herself oversaw a class at her charming Irish country home in Ballyalla.

One of Mrs. Vere O’Brien’s notable achievements has been the introduction of motor veils made from Limerick lace. These innovative designs have garnered tremendous success and have further contributed to the recognition and popularity of Limerick lace.

Through her dedication, vision, and collabouration with skilled artisans, Mrs. Vere O’Brien has not only revived Limerick lace but has also provided employment opportunities for lace workers and preserved a cherished aspect of Irish cultural heritage. Her contributions to the craft and her commitment to nurturing creativity and skill development have left an indelible mark on the world of lace-making.

Gentlewoman – Saturday 29 August 1903