Antique Clones Lace/ Irish Crochet

Shamrock Clones knot Jabot – fashionable in the late 19th century

I first saw the Clones Lace Jabot, below, in a chest of drawers, among other pieces of Lace, belonging to Eithne D’Arcy. Eithne told me that it was crocheted by an old woman in the hills beyond Roslea. When she had crocheted it, she brought it for sale to Mrs McGorry, a lace buyer in Clones and Eithne’s mother. It was brown black, from the turf fire in her cottage. The McGorrys staff then ‘did it up’ in their laundry, so that it became white, crisp and beautiful. I have always loved this piece, as it has the shamrock Clones knot filling stitch and would get it from the drawer each time I visited Eithne. When she died in November 1999, Eithne’s daughter, Daphne, kindly sold it to me and it is now a treasured part of my collection.

Venetian ‘small gros point’ needle  lace with bobbin lace edging from

early 17th century, according to lace experts  Jules Kliot (Lacis SF)

and Anne McIvor (Sunnyvale Lace Museum)

The second piece is Venetian Point lace and dates from the early 17th century, according to experts, such as Jules Kliot and Anne McIvor. The bottom edging is made with  bobbin lace, to make it easier to remove for washing purposes. This Venetian Point lace piece (small gros point) has been cut at either end and was part of a larger edging. It was part of the possessions of Lady Langham of Tempo Manor, in Fermanagh, formerly the seat of a  branch of the Maguires, up until the early 19th century. We can only imagine its history… It has a raised outline around the motifs, which is one of the identifying features of Innishmacsaint lace, and which is a feature of one of the Brady neck bands. Comparing the Venetian Point lace piece with the Brady neck bands, I became more aware of how Venetian Point lace would have influenced Clones Lace in the late 1840s-1850s, before the  people began crocheting their own motifs, inspired by the wild flowers and commonplace items around them ( see Clones Lace, 2nd edition, by Máire Treanor, Lacis 2010)

According to lace experts, the Venetian Point lace piece would have taken about 800 hours to sew, whereas the Clones Lace neckbands would have taken about 40-60 hours to crochet.

These neckbands were samples, part of Edward Brady’s ‘treasure trove of lace’

Edward was one of  the buyers of Clones lace and had a lace business in

Fermanagh St Clones until the 1940s. All the pieces on this  page are now part of the

‘Máire Treanor lace Collection’:)

The 1st and 2nd neckbands are samples and came from a trunk or a ‘treasure trove of lace’, according to Olive Byrne, belonging to a Clones lace buyer in Clones – Edward Brady, who was a lace exporter from the late nineteenth century – 1940. Dorothy Scott sent me the third piece  from Australia. It belonged to her mother, a school teacher in the Boundary Villa School, near Temora, New South Wales, in about 1903-4. All 3 pieces were made by the same group of women in the Clones area, as they have the same motifs and shape. The  second piece has needle filling stitches. The 1st and 3rd pieces have the same water lily motifs. They are very similar to Venetian Needlepoint lace, which inspired Irish Crochet Lace.


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