Condon’s Florist, North Main Street were delighted to host the Youghal Lace & Historical Photographic Exhibition during Culture Night 2012 in Youghal. The tools and skills involved in Lace making were on show as well as a beautiful antique Crochet/Lace Wedding Dress.
Click on the video below to see some of the exhibits.
Youghal Needlepoint Lace was inspired by a piece of antique lace of Italian origin, which was unravelled by Mother Mary Ann Smith at the Presentation Convent in Youghal in 1847 and they stared to manufacture in 1852. However the lace in Youghal was entirely different, it was made with a sewing needle, a single thread button hole stitch technique in which a series of loops are linked together to produce a stable fabric. The Presentation Convent in Youghal closed in 1989.
Passage from an old manual: ‘Youghal needlepoint lace was born in poverty and fostered in famine from 1845-1847. Mother Mary Anne Smith found in the convent a small piece of old Italian lace known as Crecian Point. She carefully took it asunder, examined the stitches and soon devised a method of reproducing them. A regular lace-school was then started.’ Thus did Youghal lace begin, the nun’s mission assisted by Youghal’s then stature as a vibrant trading port, meaning cotton/linen was in plentiful supply
From the outset, the lace makers were well paid, suitably reflecting the high esteem and prices associated with their produce. A ledger from 1906 reflects such rates as “handkerchiefs from 25 shillings to £12, scarves from £12 to £50 and babies’ bootees from £2 to £4.”
Those who could and would support such acquirements were the nobility, the gentry and the exalted classes throughout Europe and beyond. The Vatican prized Youghal lace in priests’ vestments and much of it probably still lingers behind those secretive Roman walls. The British royal family were particularly patrons. It is recorded that in 1896, a Youghal Lace fan leaf produced at the Presentation convent held “a crowned M in the centre” it being a wedding gift to Queen Mary’s sister-in-law Princess Maud. Another such fan presented to Queen Alexandra on her first visit to Ireland in 1903 includes an Irish harp in the centre and a ribbon inscribed (in Irish) ‘I cool, I refresh, and I can keep secrets’. In 1905 Princess Margaret of Connaught, received a wedding gift of a Youghal lace fan which had won a prize at the Dublin exhibition in 1897- an early example of the many accolades to be earned by Youghal lace over the years. In 1911, on behalf of Northern Unionists, Youghal lace-makers made a lace train gift for Queen Mary to wear at the time of the Delhi Durbar (a mass assembly in Delhi to mark the coronation of the king and queen.) Said to be the largest lace creation ever, the donors had the Gaelic reflection, ‘Deanta (made) in Eireann’ removed and replaced by a shamrock!
The advent of machinery in the early 20th century heralded the end of Youghal needlepoint lace’s illustrious stature. It remained unique but mass production of lace diminished demand for the unique artefacts. It all but died except for a few private and personal practitioners. Most of the made lace was and is stored in such places as Cork’s Fitzgerald Museum, for the want of a proper storage place in Youghal.
98 North Main Street
Kay Curtin 024-92634 086-887449 firstname.lastname@example.org
Click on images below to see more of the wonderful Youghal Lace Exhibition on display for Culture Night 2012