Limerick Archives Led the Way During Heritage Celebrations

Sharon Slater from Limerick Museum & Archives looks back at a successful Heritage Week 2014.

As the Education and Outreach officer for the Limerick Museum and Archives, one of my tasks is to co-ordinate projects for major events on the history and heritage calendar. Every year in Ireland the last week in August is Heritage Week, one of the many events the Limerick Museum and Archives (LM&A) team are involved with.

The week is filled with activities focusing on history, heritage, archaeology and related disciplines and the team in LM&A put together a hectic schedule with four varied events during the course of the week. This schedule was months in the planning and aimed to highlight our new work as well as our long standing projects.  

Our work is a major team effort and the staff of the Limerick Museum, Brian, Tim, Ed and John, were of immense support throughout Heritage Week.

Mount Saint Lawrence Tour

The first event on our calendar was a tour of Mount Saint Lawrence Cemetery on Sunday 24th August. The weather conditions didn’t look too suitable for a guided tour of a cemetery but despite this the crowd began to gather, umbrellas in hand! 

Led by Dr. Matthew Potter, the crowd learned about the history of the cemetery, from when it opened in 1849, to the 70,000 people interred there.

We visited the graves of noted politicians, sports people, authors and even the architect who designed the cemetery, while I held up the rear taking photographs and insuring that no one slipped as we traversed the cemetery.

Everyone left having learned something new, and were told about the online burial register and grave marker databases we have worked on for Mount Saint Lawrence Cemetery. 

Limerick Museum Talk

The second of our talks took place out of the inclement weather in the Limerick Museum, City Hall on Monday 25th August. I led the group of 15 through 100 years of the history of the Museum. 

From why the museum was established to the individual items within the collection and how they were acquired, the group learned of the fascinating history of the Limerick Museum, currently located in City Hall, Merchant’s Quay. 

Disappointed you missed the tour? Don’t be – you can access the online collection of over 55,000 items online here.

The Local Government Tour

Our third event of the week was the Local Government Tour, also in the Limerick Museum, led by Dr. Matthew Potter on Wednesday 27th August. Dr Potter, the leading expert in all aspects of local government in Limerick, led a group of 12 through 800 years of social and political history, recalling how the city developed from a Viking stronghold to the amalgamated City and County Council that governs today. 

This tour is bookable through us until our Limerick Lace exhibition starts in December. Email us to book - archives@limerick.ie.

Limerick Lace

Our final event on Friday 29th August focused on Limerick Lace with both a talk and a workshop.

The eager crowd gathered early for the talk, we had planned for 12 but almost double that arrived and we had just as many spectators for the workshop as we did participants! Such interest in a chapter of Limerick’s history was a pleasure to see.

Dr. Matthew Potter wowed the interested audience with newly discovered facts about Limerick Lace production as well as dispelling myths along the way. The talk was held in the Limerick Museum with a small collection of our Limerick Lace as a back drop.

The audience included the grandchildren of one of the lace factory owners and women who had made Limerick Lace in their youth. 

Some attendees even brought Limerick Lace items held by their own families including a veil handed down through generations of brides for over 150 years!

During the course of these two events we had a visit from BBC World filming a documentary on the life of Gabrielle North who created the christening shawl given to John F Kennedy during his 1963 visit to Limerick. The workshop group were in awe to be in the presence of an original lace maker.

She happily gave a helping hand and sat in and listened with interest to our Lace talk before filming both the workshop and the Limerick Museum. This documentary will be shown on BBC World later this month. 

Jacqui Hayes, the Limerick City and County Archivist, co-ordinated the Limerick Lace workshop in the exhibition area and under the guidance of Marion O’Callaghan, a hand craft teacher, the participants put their first thread to net. They soon realised how delicate the work was as they stitched and unstitched sections which were too tight or loose.

By the end of the class the participants were satisfied with their results no matter how small!

The search is still on for information on Limerick Lace so if you feel you have an insight, no matter what, please contact archives@limerick.ie.

Limerick Museum & Archives
City Hall
Merchant’s Quay Limerick
archives@limerick.ie
www.limerick.ie/historicalresources
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