A Clones Lace Heirloom

The story of Irish crochet lace is well known. Its popularity in the mid-1800s saved the lives of Irish families devastated by the drought. What many don't know is how close we came to losing this incredible crochet lace technique.

 
Máire Treanor's family Clones lace christening robe. Irish crochet. Linen. Twentieth century. Ireland.  

Here is Máire Treanor to tell you how she learned this amazing technique and turned it into a family heirloom.

A Family Tradition

In 1987, I came to Clones as a young woman and met Mamo McDonald, a vibrant personality in the town, who introduced me to the beautiful heritage lace of the area and told me how the lace industry had saved thousands of local families during the famine. I was hooked. Although I began my research into Clones lace in 1987, it wasn't until after the birth of my eldest daughter, Máiréad, in 1989 that I began crocheting it. About the same time, we, a group of ­fifteen local people emulating the old way in which Clones lace was made, formed the Clones Lace Guild, a workers' cooperative.

 
  Máire Treanor's Clones lace christening bonnet, adapted from the original she crocheted for her own children, showing the Clematis, Small Vine Leaf, Grapes, and Small Rose motifs.

A year later, and aware that the people who made Clones lace in the past had no heirloom pieces in their own families, I decided to make a linen christening robe with inserts of Clones lace for my growing family. In 1990, I was the proud mother of a second daughter, Aine, who wore the christening robe and a Clones lace christening bonnet that I also had designed and crocheted for her.

 
The Clones lace bonnet pattern in PieceWork May/June 2014  

The following summer, I added 2 inches (5.1 cm) of Clones lace around the bottom of the skirt of the christening robe, and my godson, Seán, wore it. In April 1992, my third daughter, Cáit, wore it. I had by then added lace to the bodice and sleeves and a lace inset down the middle of the dress. In the traditional fashion, I had hand-rolled the edges of the linen and attached the lace to it with crocheted slip and chain stitches.

-Máire Treanor, PieceWork May/June 2014

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Best wishes,

P.S. Do you have a crochet heirloom you have passed down?

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