Presentation of Commemorative Bonnets to Mrs. Sabina Higgins

A presentation of commemorative bonnets was made to Mrs. Sabina Higgins by Headford Lace Project and Dr. Christina Henri.

The bonnet made by HLP was to mark the visit of Mrs. Sabina Higgins to  the ‘Lace Notes and Other Stories’’ concert at St. Fursa’s Hall, Headford. It is decorated with a garland of Irish Crochet Lace roses made by Anne O’ Hara Quinn. Roses are symbolic in both bonnet tribute projects, ‘Roses from the Heart’ an ‘Irish Roses Bride Ship Lasses’. It also has two blue flower motifs of bobbin lace made by Jackie Magnin, tutor to HLP. This is the type of lace which has been made in Headford since the mid 1700s up to 1918. One motif contains a small heart and the other motif is more decorative as the bonnet would have been intended for a wedding. The bobbin lace is worked in tones of blue which are the Headford colours. The name ‘Sabina Higgins’ and ‘Headford 2019’ was embroidered on the brim by Ger Henry Hassett, coordinator of the bonnet project.  While  remembering all those transported on the night a small piece by John O’Donoghue was read, ‘ Our friends among the dead now live where time and space are transfigured. They behold us in ways they never could have when they lived beside us on earth’.
By Ger Henry Hassett

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Dr. Christina Henri presented a bonnet to Mrs. Sabina Higgins to remember the life of Ann Higgins an ‘Orphan Girl’ who sailed on the Thomas Arbuthnot to Sydney, New South Wales in 1850. Ann’s parents Thomas and Alicia had both died. Sixteen year old Ann was from Dublin and she was a Roman Catholic. Along with over four thousand other young lasses was part of the Earl Grey Scheme 1848-1850. Subsequent schemes of assisted passage followed. Plucked from the workhouse, Ann’s choice was either ‘leaving by the back door’ - burial in a recyclable coffin or sailing to the far-off land of Australia.
The colour green (buttons and thread) was chosen as a reminder of the verdant green Irish landscape, left behind and the symbolic colour of the Gaelic, Catholic political order. The bonnet is created from calico a material evoking Ann’s early life. The silk lining implies her improved circumstances in Australia. The lace butterfly on the brim refers to migration. Images of butterflies have been used as the untethered spirit often in association with the free settler ‘Orphan Girls’ to Australia. The bejewelled lace attached to the back of the bonnet was donated by a dressmaker in Sydney for the project. Pieces of this lace had been used to adorn contemporary wedding dresses. The main piece of lace/silk on the central section is from a heritage collection. The lace ties are from Christina’s sewing box and the cream ribbons are from Ger’s haberdashery collection as is the slender blue ribbon that attaches the card tag to the bonnet. The choice of ribbons both from Tasmania and Ireland is deliberate, highlighting the intertwining of the two countries connection through migration. The choice of the blue ribbons recalls Headford and Dublin’s, Áth Cliath, symbolic colour blue.The ‘Made in Ireland’ tag on the inside of the bonnet was sewn on in Headford subsequent to the bonnet being created in Tasmania. The tag was donated by Ger and is a metaphor noting Ann’s birthplace in Dublin and remembering Christina Henri’s ancestor Mary Monks who was also born in Dublin.
By Dr. Christina Henri

Christina also presented a tribute bonnet dedicated to Ann Higgins to the Headford Lace Project Committee as a lasting reminder of our involvement in the Bonnet Tribute Projects.