Carrickmacross has two forms-applique and guipure. Applique is organdie, muslin or cambric applied to net: the design is outlined with couched or buttonholed thread, sections of the organdie are cut away and the net decorated with filling stitches. In guipure, both net and organdie are cut away and spaces filled with bars/brides. Designs are usually floral, sometimes derived from Brussels lace patterns or from Italian whitework. Distinctive features are: POPS - small buttonholed circles THORNS - buttonhole bars known as brides TWIRLS - circles of thread couched to the outer edge


In the vicarage of Donaghmoyne near Carrickmacross in Ireland, Ann Steadman, employed as sewing maid for Mrs Grey Porter, the rector’s wife, was encouraged by Ann to copy examples of Italian appliqué lace she had collected in Italy in 1816. The lace on which they worked was to become known as Carrickmacross.

Around 1820, Mrs Porter saw this as a way to provide much needed employment for young women in rural Ireland. The time was opportune with the introduction of machine made net. Schools were set up and production commenced. Articles included wedding veils, collars, cuffs, handkerchiefs and table linen.

After the famine in 1846, the women from poor families were encouraged to supplement their income by producing lace. This production began to decline in the 1860s. Slowly, as the 19th Century approached its closing decades, interest in Carrickmacross was revived by the nuns at the St Louis Convent at Carrickmacross who taught the young girls in schools. This great era of lace making ended with the Great War in 1914.


Butler, M. and Trubshaw, Carrickmacross Lace, Batsford, 1990
O'Cleirigh, N. Carrickmacross Lace, Dolmen Press, Mountrath, Ireland, 1985
Preston, D. C. Needle-Made Laces and Net Embroideries, Dover, N.Y 1984

Valerie Cavill