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Irishtown, Mountmellick, Laois,
Miss Dolores Dempsey
The Mountmellick Museum is located in a refurbished grain mill built in 1830 overlooking the Owenass River, in Mountmellick County Laois. It is dedicated to showcasing Mountmellick's rich Quaker industrial past.
Nestled at the foothills of the Slieve Bloom Mountains, Mountmellick was once known as the little Manchester of Ireland due to the presence of a large and diverse industrial base, which included flax and cotton mills. Traces of Mountmellick’s rich heritage as a Quaker settlement remain in its Victorian and Georgian architecture and warm friendliness of the people.
During the 19th Century this quiet residential town gave its name to the world renowned Victorian White on White embroidery called Mountmellick Work. The Museum has built up a treasure trove of old and contemporary pieces of this magnificent work. Heirlooms of bed coverlets, pillow shams, tablecloths and nightdress cases survive today in excellent condition which is evident in the items on display in the museum. This embroidery is unique as it is the only form of embroidery that can claim to be entirely Irish in origin and design.
One of the features of Mountmellick Work, is its serviceability. The work was carried out on cotton satin jean fabric using cotton thread. Designs of local flora and fauna were used including blackberries, dog rose, wild clematis and viola. The craft has a long association with the Quakers who fostered the tradition by teaching it in the schools. A government report of 1858 tells us that the needlework was taught in the Mountmellick Quaker School in both fancy and plain designs.
Mountmellick Embroidery became a popular hobby for ladies of the Victorian era which led to a major interest in the work.
The Museum is passionate about keeping the tradition of Mountmellick Work. Group and one-to-one workshops are provided on demand and are tailored to your individual needs. Advance booking necessary.
This is an opportunity to stroll through the town of Mountmellick and explore its historical and cultural depths. Starting at the Museum the trail takes the format of two circuits set in a figure of eight, which facilitates a looped walk with storyboards at each point. A booklet and map are available in the Museum.
If you are interested in tracing your family history, the Museum has a database of Quaker Records dating back to the 17th century.