Borris Lace

This is an extract from an article that was printed in the Nationalist and Leinster Times on Friday, November 1, 1991.

Borris LaceBorris lace is a craft which was introduced to the South Carlow town around 1857 by Lady Harriet Kavanagh of Borris House. It was established as a local craft to provide much needed employment. Tradition has it that Lady Kavanagh visited Corfu and was so impressed by some specimens of Greek lace that she bought some. She fostered the craft at a time when Borris and its estates were ravaged by the effects of the Great Famine. In the days when the craft was vigorously pursued by the ladies of Borris they carried out their lace work in the daylight outside their homes as it was not possible to work in the dark environment of their houses.

MaterialsIt became so highly successful that a sample was presented to Queen Victoria and later many members of the Royal Family wore the lace. It ceased to be a cottage industry during the first world war. Craft workers within the Carlow Federation funded the employment of a lace craft teacher, aided by a contribution from Fas and some sponsorship. That teacher was Faith Green, from Plymouth, who is an expert on Branscombe Needlepoint Lace which is very similar to Borris Lace.

This sampler piece of Borris lace was made by local lacemaker Ena Atkinson, who was involved in the Borris Lace revival in 1991.

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