Bobbins and Pens

Collaboration between Portumna Pen Pushers and Headford Lace Project

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CLICK HERE to download a copy of the Bobbins & Pens catalogue.

In 2020, the Agents of Change workshops were facilitated by Sharon O’Grady, Arts Officer, Galway County Council and at these workshops Ester met Noelle Lynskey, Director of the Shorelines Festival in Portumna. Noelle visited Headford in 2020 to see The Space Between exhibition and the seeds for a future collaboration were sown.

In 2020, DCCI supported HLP to digitise our archive through Network Support Funding. Our archive now comprises 201 lace items, some handmade and some machine made, all generously donated by the public. Much of this collection is a reflection of the social history of craftwork done by women in different eras. These threads of life bind us together and keep the memory of the makers alive. This project was an unexpected and exciting outcome of the digitisation project. Initial contacts with Portumna Pen Pushers (PP) were made through Zoom and email due to Covid restrictions. The writers took a decision to use our digital archive as a source of inspiration for their writing and the project began. The results of this collaboration included an exhibition titled ‘Bobbins and Pens’ comprising a display of both the written pieces and lace items held in the Café Gallery at Portumna Castle and curated by artist Jenny Wood Sullivan. It ran from September to November and was overseen by OPW staff, we are grateful to them for facilitating this. A beautiful accompanying catalogue of the same name was also designed by Abby Dillon of Little Bird Design Studio, Portumna. In 2019, HLP donated three bonnets to Portumna Workhouse to honour the memory of girls, Maria Maher, Catherine and Mary Naughton who left that area under the Earl Grey Scheme. Four sonnets were written around this theme. As part of the Shorelines Festival, HLP did a demonstration of bobbin lacemaking and a talk about the craft and remarkable history of lacemaking in the town of Headford going back to the mid 1700s. This was very well attended and generated a lot of interest. This collaboration could not have happened without funding from Galway County Council Arts Office and Arts Council FIS.

“Feedback was very positive overall and people enjoyed both the workshop and the exhibition. Portumna Castle were thrilled to host the exhibition and have it’s stay extended until November” - Noelle Lynskey, Portumna Shorelines Festival.