Irish or "guipure" lace began to develop in Ireland in the middle of-1800s. Originally it was derived from the Venetian Point Needle lace, first brought by nuns of the Ursuline order to the Irish city of Cork from France in the 1830s.



Point Needle lace:


Certainly lace is a luxury, but it was first made ​​in Ireland, as a direct consequence of poverty. At that time Ireland was in the period of Great Famine (or, as they are called "potato" famine), which killed about 1 million people and another million emigrated. Country badly in need of solving this problem.  Lace-making was a lucrative business. But traditional manufacturing methods of lace by needle were too slow. In an attempt to copy the elegant figure of Venetian lace comes a way to simulate them with a hook, which was faster and more profitable. To make a seven-inch piece of lace by needle required more than 200 hours. Imitation of the same picture by crochet hook required 20 hours.


Irish Crochet Lace:

1850 Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art


By the early 1840s, the first instructions for performing the Irish lace began to appear. One of the initiators were Eleanor Riego de la Blanchardiere and Frances Lambert. Mademoiselle Riego de la Blanchardiere published the first book “a picture of Irish crochet” in 1846.



Under the different data, beginning in 1847, there were employed between 12,000 and 20,000 girls for the production of lace. By the end of the XIX century crocheted lace became very popular in Ireland and the lacemaking teachers went to the starved regions to teach the craft.


c. 1900 Ecru Irish Crochet Lace Overcoat


By that time, the regional varieties of crocheted lace have already appeared. For example, the lace from Southern Ireland more open and inherent in large forms than laces crocheted in the north. The main centers of crochet lace were the Clones, Limerick, Cork, Kenmare, Carrickmacross.


Dress, Afternoon 1908–10 Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art


Lillie Langtry (October 13, 1853 – February 12, 1929), usually spelled Lily Langtry when she was in the U.S., born Emilie Charlotte Le Breton, was a British music hall singer and stage actress famous for her many stage productions including She Stoops to Conquer, The Lady of Lyons and As You Like It. She was also known for her relationships with nobility, including the Prince of WalesAlbert Edward, the Earl of Shrewsbury and Prince Louis of Battenberg. (From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)



Masters imitated motifs with trefoils, ferns, flowers, milk thistle, wild rose, lily, with elements of vines and grapes.  Almost all families have some secrets of mastery and cherished motives. When neighbors entered a house unexpectedly the lace was hidden from view. Ready irich motifs  attributed to the nearest center of lace, and there experienced craftsmen are ready to collect refined crochets things.



Irish crochet lace coat, c.1920s Pic. from vintagetextile.com


Irish crochet lace blouse, c.1910s Pic. from vintagetextile.com


Irish crochet lace dress, c.1910s Pic. from vintagetextile.com


Charles Klein. ca. 1910. Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.


Wedding Dress ca. 1870 Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art


Dress, Afternoon 1908–10 Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art


By the year 1900 began the decline of Irish lace. World Wars shallow fashion for elegance and luxury. Also soon faced a challenge from machine-made lace. Hand-lace was hard to compete with readily available and cheaper machine-lace.

At the end of XX century  there have been changes in fashion and crocheted lace is again popular. Many couturiers and designers began to use the Irish lace in the worksand it is now in demand again. You can see it in their wedding clothes, christeningsets, in decorating the bags and shoes, to furnish household items.


Jean Paul Gaultier Haute Couture SS 2009

Laura Biagiotti Spring-Summer 2007

Ralph Lauren SS 2011