Headford Lace


Making Waves: Headford Lace

> Sorcha Nic Aodha

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After hundreds of years, the craft of lacemaking in Headford is enjoying a come-back, with the Small Towns Big Ideas Headford Lace Weekend taking place from 21 to 23 September.

Organised by The Headford Lace Project, which was established in 2016 after Headford’s Galway 2020 Pilot Project for Small Towns Big Ideas, The Nesting Lark, the festival aims to revive the craft of lacemaking through a number of events.  

Popular among European aristocrats in the mid-1700s, lace was made by many poorer families in Ireland to be sold throughout Europe, with lacemaking schools being established throughout Ireland around that time. 

Organiser, Ester Kiely, says that with the Headford Lace Weekend, it is hoped that a new generation of lacemakers will be formed, to contribute to the revival of the tradition throughout the West of Ireland.   

“Historical documents refer to bobbin lacemaking in Headford as far back as the 1740s, which gives Headford a unique story to tell. As a textile artist and community collaborator, I was amazed that Headford had such a rich textile history that I had never heard of, despite living in the area for 13 years. Through the Lace Project, we’re doing lots of research and building an archive to include books, photographs, online research and a collection of lace samples both antique and contemporary.”  

“We also want to reimagine the story of Headford Lace for a new generation,” adds Ester. “As well as appealing to those interested in lacemaking and local history, we hope to bring the story alive by reaching new audiences locally, nationally and internationally through collaborations with other disciplines.” 

Just some of the projects taking place throughout the weekend include; Mountmellick Embroidery with Dolores Dempsey; Beginners Bobbin Lace with Jackie Magnin; Improvers Bobbin Lace with Jackie Magnin; ‘Lacemaker’s Shoes’, a walking history tour of Headford Lace; ‘The Story of Lace’, an illustrated talk by the Headford Lace Project; ‘Lace by Moonlight’, an after dark projection onto buildings for Culture Night in Headford and ‘The Lacemaker’s Gathering’, an opportunity for lacemakers to meet, share skills and stories and exhibit a wide range of lace.  

The Lacemaker’s Garden has also been created in a collaboration with Headford Environment Group and Kilkee Forge and includes a specially commissioned bench, fence and pollinator garden in the Headford Community Orchard.  

The Lacemaker’s Scarf is another project kickstarted by the Headford Lace team – a collaboration with fashion designer, Niamh Daniels, in addition to The Lacemaker’s Song, a collaboration with folk musicians, The Whileaways, due for local release in September. 

Being involved in such a project has many benefits for the community, Ester enthuses, one being a new connection with the community. “It has also allowed us to contribute towards a pride of place, and we’ve benefitted from the experience, skills and friendships that developed through our involvement in the project.”  

Headford Lace Weekend is one of 52 Small Towns Big Ideas projects – a Galway 2020 programme that aims to shine a light on and support community projects throughout Galway County and City. To find out more about the project, go to headfordlaceproject.ie. For more info on Small Towns Big Ideas see here. 


Photos via Headford Lace Project
Headford Lace

Example of Headford Lace

Lepoglava Lace sample

Croatian Lepoglava Lace sample



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