Headford regains its sense of lace — Can you help restore this tradition?

Lacemaker Jackie Magnin and Headford Lace enthusiasts Selma Makela, Anne Quinn, and Ester Kiely.

Lacemaker Jackie Magnin and Headford Lace enthusiasts Selma Makela, Anne Quinn, and Ester Kiely.

Headford’s proud tradition of lacemaking which dates back to the Middle Ages is set to be restored following an initiative set up as part of the Galway 2020 bid.

The Headford 2020 Collective is a group of community members, artists, musicians, craftmakers and other creatives who came together during Galway’s successful bid for European Capital of Culture 2020.

Following a vibrant initial pilot project in May, entitled “The Nesting Lark”, the group has continued to collaborate creating colourful yarn-bomb installations, participating in Culture Night activities and developing new ideas through online discussion groups.

An interesting legacy of the group’s activities is the re-discovery of the lost tradition of lacemaking in Headford dating back to the 1600s. The Lacemaker Cottages still exist on New Street and apparently these were once humming with the sounds of the lacemakers’ chatter and clicking of bobbins, as they made what was known as pillow, bone or Torchon lace. It is likely the lace was made of linen thread supporting the growth of flax locally.

Discussion with staff members of the National Museum, Lacemaking Guilds, textile experts around the country and other online sources suggest bobbin lace-making skills were introduced by Mrs. St. George to improve the incomes of estate workers by selling to the many merchants travelling to Headford at this time.

An original sample of Headford Lace was found and members of the group recently met the Traditional Lace Makers of Ireland to find a suitable tutor to teach the necessary skills to reproduce this lace in Headford once more. The Museum of Country Life in Castlebar has also donated some original bobbin lacemaking equipment to support the group in this endeavour.

On Friday 11 th November at 7pm in The Anglers Rest Hotel, we will launch our inaugural Headford Lace weekend with an open invitation to the community to come along and hear the fascinating story of Headford Lace: History and Revival. This event will be followed by an already fully-booked two-day introductory bobbin lace workshop with lacemaker Jackie Magnin.

If you have any stories, information or photographs relating to Headford Lace, the Lacemaker Cottages on New Street, or any lacemaking in Connaught, we would be delighted if you would come along and share these with us.

For further information or to enquire about future workshops, please contact Ester Kiely at 087 6193870.



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