A Year of Headford Lace Project

The Headford Lace Project began in September 2016 with the aim of researching and reviving Headford’s lacemaking heritage. Since then, we have translated these aims into a series of activities with a focus on community engagement.

Our five Headford Lace Weekends have trained keen apprentices in the skills of bobbin lacemaking and bobbin making. We have also participated in a number of external events, including Heritage Week, Culture Night, Headfest, Galway Fringe Festival and International Lace Day. Members of our committee have undertaken a multitude of training initiatives to expand our collective knowledge and skills and we have grown our network of lace contacts internationally through our social media channels.

It has been a wonderful first year and we would like to thank everyone who supported the project thus far.  


Headford Lace Project Committee

Click here to view the Headford Lace Project Annual Report 2016-2017


Committee Members:

  • Ester Kiely - Chairperson
  • Eilís Nic Dhonncha - Vice Chair &  Acting Secretary
  • Anne O’Hara Quinn - Education Officer
  • Giulliana Victor Harte - Social Media Officer
  • Ger Henry Hassett - Librarian/Archivist
  • Selma Makela - Research Officer
  • Ella Hassett - Research Officer/Graphic Designer
  • Rusty Weise - Committee Member


Our Highlights

  • International links with other lacemakers in Slovenia and the US
  • Local press coverage in Tuam Herald, Connacht Tribune, Galway Independent
  • Journal of the Old Tuam Society
  • Almost 50 people have attended our workshops.
  • Presentations to the Guild of Irish Lacemakers, Renmore ICA, Galway Civic Trust,
  • Galway City Museum and the Irish Patchwork Society
  • Some of our members have joined Traditional Lacemakers of Ireland and the Guild of Irish Lacemakers
  • Articles published about Headford Lace for the Guild of Irish Lacemakers newsletter and Making.ie
  • Headford Lace Project Archive established including, a collection of our historical research documents, donated lace samples and library of books on lacemaking


Tidy Towns Heritage Award 2017

171117 heritage award02 

In 2017, Headford Lace Project was awarded the Tidy Towns Heritage Award. Committee members Eilís, Ger, Giulliana and Anne attended the prize giving ceremony on the 17th November 2017 in Westport, Co. Mayo. This was a huge success for the Headford Lace Project considering we are a relatively new collaboration. It included a prize of €1,000 putting us in a stable financial situation for the coming year and allowing us to dream big for the future of the project.


Headford Lace Weekends

Over the course of the year we held five Headford Lace Weekends, incorporating bobbin and mixed lace classes with public talks and events.

November 2016: Inaugural Headford Lace Weekend at the Anglers Rest Hotel included a free talk with approximately 50 attendees, a beginners bobbin lace workshop with our teacher Jackie Magnin for 8 participants and a walking history tour of Headford Lace Cottages and St. Georges Square.

workshop jan17 0026

January 2017: 2nd Headford Lace Weekend the Angler’s Rest Hotel, including a free talk, beginners and improvers bobbin lace classes with Jackie, a walking tour of Headford Lace Cottages and St. George's Square and a video call with Slovenian lacemakers.

April 2017: 3rd Headford Lace Weekend at the Angler’s Rest Hotel, including a Vintage Lace Tea Party, beginners and improvers bobbin lace classes with and a walking tour of Headford Lace Cottages and St. George's Square. The Vintage Lace Tea Party is featured below.

July 2017: 4th Headford Lace Weekend at the Galway City Museum as part of the Galway Fringe Festival including a public talk, free demonstrations, beginners and improvers workshops and research collaboration with the Museum’s Education Officer.

September 2017: 5th Headford Lace Weekend at Anglers Rest Hotel, including a mixed lace class (Mountmellick, Carrickmacross and Limerick laces) with Veronica Stuart of Traditional Lacemakers of Ireland, beginners and improvers bobbin lace classes with Jackie, talk and display of antique lace items by Veronica and her assistant Eleanor Power, a display of Irish Crochet items locally made from the early 1900s loaned by Mary O’ Grady, Cong. This weekend coincided with Culture Night, featured below.

We also hosted some informal gatherings during the year for lacemaking apprentices to come together and practice their new skills including celebration of Nollaig na mBan, International Lace Day and St. Catherine's Day (the patron saint of lacemakers).


170625 lace mural

Headford Lace Project launched its new logo in 2017, designed by Ella who has an interest in graphic design. A temporary wall mural of our logo was erected on the Main Street, Headford raising awareness within the community and internationally on International Lace Day.


Culture Night 2017


Culture Night, 22 September 2017, was a celebration of Headford’s lace heritage and involved several different events. With the permission of local businesses, we curated ‘Intertwined’, a week long lace themed exhibition in 17 shop windows along the Main Street of Headford and into St. George’s Square. We collaborated with Headford Camera Club resulting in a lace themed photo exhibition held in Keadys on St. George’s Square. On the Main Street, we commissioned a lace themed ‘Selfie Station’ created by local artists, Carrot Puppet Theatre. These events were brought together during “The Lacemaker's Shoes”, a walking tour through the town on Culture Night. The tour recounted the history of Headford Lace stopping at the lacemakers cottage where our teacher Jackie Magnin re-enacted how bobbin lace-makers of the past would sit outside their dark cottages to work in daylight. The tour ended with a public talk by Veronica Stuart, assisted by Eleanor Power, from the Traditional Lacemakers of Ireland at the Angler’s Rest Hotel. This talk showcased very fine examples of antique lace and served to place Headford Lace in context within the history of Irish lacemaking. There was also a display of exquisite Irish Crochet items locally made from the early 1900s loaned by Mary O’ Grady, Cong. The exhibition was further brought to life after dark (8pm-8am) with a large-scale slideshow of photographs from the project projected onto the side of a building on Main Street.


Community Development


The Vintage Lace Tea Party provided a way to create a socially inclusive event for the community in Headford through which we could share stories, collect history and spread the work of the Headford Lace project. It included an exhibition of lace and the history documentation collected so far. Committee members developed Headford Town Hall into a vintage setting with giant gramophone outdoors, vintage decor, tablecloths, china cups and an old-fashioned soundtrack. Tea, sandwiches and fancy cakes were also provided. 



From the outset it was clear that the Headford Lace Project would encompass more than simply the revival of lacemaking. The visionary approach involves integrating as much of the Headford community as possible as well as developing Headford Town itself as a thriving place to live and work. Careful positioning of lacemaking in context forms the heart of this work e.g. the ‘Intertwined’ exhibition and walking tour promoted footfall on the Main Street and the collaboration with other groups ensured a buzz about the town for Galway Culture Night. The work with Headford Environment group to establish a Lace Garden within the community orchard not only adds to the visibility of the Lace Project but also provides a pleasant place for recreation in the town. Work with Cairde Áth Cinn, the Men's Shed and other groups promotes greater networking and collaboration between various groups in Headford which develops community spirit. In the above image, Eilís is learning how to woodturn bobbins in collaboration with the Men’s Shed and Cregboy-based master woodturners, Bríd and Ambrose O’Halloran.


Participation in Events

Throughout the past year, we were involved with several events which show engagement with the local Headford community and groups further afield.

  • 17th March 2017, St. Patrick’s Day - Lacemaking demonstration, display and historical information at a stand in St. George’s Square, Headford.
  • 29 April 2017, Kilconly Food & Craft Fair - Lacemaking demonstration, display and historical information.
  • 28 May 2017, Athenry Agricultural Show - Lacemaking demonstration, display and historical information.
  • 17 June 2017, Headfest – Lacemaking demonstration, display and historical information with Headford Cottage Market.
  • 1 July 2017, Ballinrobe Heritage Day & Market - Lacemaking demonstration.
  • 28-30 July 2017, Galway Fringe Festival - Headford Lace Weekend held at the Galway City Museum as part of the festival.
  • 22 August 2017, Heritage Week - Lacemaking demonstration at the Galway Civic Trust.




The project has been fortunate to have the commitment of tutor, Jackie Magnin of the Traditional Lacemakers of Ireland. She delivers a weekend bobbin lace workshop every three months. She confirmed the 1904 sample of Headford Lace was bobbin/torchon lace and to our amazement, replicated it (as you can see on the left). A skill takes practice - “Namhaid an cheird gan í a chleachtadh”. So, as a follow-up to our weekend bobbin workshops, we endeavour to meet once a month to practice and share skills and ideas. For our first workshop of 2018, we will invite our apprentices for a ‘refresher’ session, as we aim to invest in developing our bobbin lacemaking skills further. Training is a key component of passing on a skill and our committee members attend relevant training. 

lace old new


Headford Lace Project Archive and Library

In 2017, Ger established the Headford Lace Project Archive using knowledge gained from the Archival Practice and Publishing course she attended. The archive includes 53 lace pieces, both hand and machine made. These pieces are used for display purposes at our events and teaching aids during our classes. The pieces were donated by the community. The archive was organised using the General International Standard Archival Description ISAD(G).

The Headford Lace project has a fine historical record of papers tracing the history of Headford Lace back to the late 1700s up to 1917. This historical record was initially started by committee member Selma during the Nesting Lark Project of 2016 when she discovered Headford’s lacemaking heritage. This research was continued by Selma and Ella with hopes to visit international archives in the coming year for further historical documentation, such as the archives of the Kensington Museum of Art and the Northampton Lace History Archive.

From the beginning of the Headford Lace Project, we also began to gather a small collection of books on the topic of lacemaking and its history. Some of these were donated by the National Museum of Country Life and members of the Headford community. This library now consists of 13 titles covering many aspects of bobbin and needlepoint lace. These items can be loaned from us by interested apprentices or members of the community. We plan to further expand our library in the coming year and develop it into a key lacemaking resource including digital copies of antique books available online.


Objectives for 2018

  • Deliver four Headford Lace Weekends, including one in collaboration with the National Museum, Castlebar, one to coincide with Culture Night and one to include a Vintage Tea Party.
  • Train 40 new apprentices in lacemaking techniques.
  • Expand the range of lace techniques for both beginners and improvers.
  • Train additional trainers in delivering beginners workshops to assist tutor, Jackie.
  • Continue to participate in Bealtaine, Heritage Week, Headfest and Culture Night.
  • Develop project ideas to build annually with the aim of a major project implementation in Galway European Capital of Culture 2020.
  • Commission and install a lace-inspired public bench in the Headford Community Orchard.
  • Consolidate our archive and create a digital resource to allow us to share our information easily.
  • Increase wood-turned bobbin-making skills.
  • Expand collaborations with other community groups.
  • Develop youth programme.



We would like to acknowledge our funders:

  • Galway Roscommon Education Training Board (GRETB) Community Education Fund
  • Tidy Town’s Heritage Award
  • Galway County Council Facilities Scheme
  • Galway County Council Community Support Scheme
  • St. Jarlath’s Credit Union Community Fund
  • Ballycurrin Artists & Friends
  • Galway County Council Culture Night

The Headford Lace Project is grateful to the following individuals and groups who have helped us over the past year:

  • Jackie Magnin of the Traditional Lacemakers of Ireland, our ever patient teacher!
  • Veronica Stuart and Eleanor Power from the Traditional Lacemakers of Ireland
  • Ann Keller from the Guild of Irish Lacemakers.
  • The Men’s Shed for making our wooden display stands and for participating in the bobbin woodturning class with Master Woodturner Ambrose O’Halloran.
  • Margie McNamara, Anne Greaney and Mary O’Connor for their help with the historical research and Nicola Gray for her archival expertise during the organising of our lace archive.
  • Seán Hassett for designing and donating a branded pop up banner.
  • Michael Kelly for presenting the project with a gift of a pair of African Blackwood bobbins.
  • Tom Doyle at Turlough House for the donation of a vintage cushion and bobbin collection.
  • Norma Owens for her technical expertise in developing our website.

On behalf of the Headford Lace Project we would like to thank everyone who supported us in any way over the past year.