Limerick Lace is net embroidery. There two types: Limerick tambour and Limerick run lace. Tambour lace is said to have originated in the East and is thought to have arrived in Europe through Turkey in the mid 18th Centuary.
It was made possible after a machine for making net was invented in Nottingham in the early 1800s.
The story of Limerick Lace begins with Mr. Charles Walker from Oxfordshire who was studying for the church. He met and married the daughter of a lace manufacturer. He gave up his studies to set up a factory manufacturing lace in Essex. In 1829 he relocated to Ireland, bringing over twenty four girls as teachers and founded a thriving lace industry in Limerick.Mr. Walker’s factory produced mainly Tambour Lace.In the 1830s Mary Mills came from Cogeshall to teach run lacemaking. Mrs. Mills had won a gold medal for one of her designs at a South Kensington lace competition.A Mr. Lloyd had come to Limerick to help Mr. Walker and later opened a factory of his own. “Another significant piece of information supplied by the Halls (well known 19th c. travel writers) was that Mr. Loyd annually visited Brussels, Caen and other parts of France to collect new designs.”
The industry in Limerick continued to prosper although the standard began to decline somewhat. Mr. Walker sold his factory in 1841 and died in 1843As a result of a lecture given by Alan Cole “In 1893 Mrs. Vere O’Brien set up a lace school to teach drawing and design, using her own artistic talents to revitalise the industry” Another factor in the revival of the lacemaking industry in Limerick was that The Good Shepherd nuns left bobbin lacemaking in favour of Limerick Lace.Limerick Lace was made in many other centres including Kenmare, Kinsale, Cork, Killarney, Cashel, Sligo and Dublin. Both Tambour and run Lace were made in Kenmare.Demonstrations in the making of Limerick Lace can be seen at The Kenmare Lace and Design Centre in Kenmare daily during the summer months and by appointment all year round.