Local floral inspiration for Mountmellick Embroidery Patterns

06 Aug 2021
Ivana Safran By Ivana Safran

Hello again all friends of Mountmellick Embroidery and Heritage Museum, we hope this finds you keeping well and staying safe. Eighteen months on from this Covid outbreak, we are collectively in a more promising position with the rollout of the vaccination programme, in addition we are psychologically adapting to manage and live with Covid which is likely to be with us for the foreseeable future. 

Unfortunately, we are still not in a position to resume museum visits which we would love to do and show off the many improvements to our visitor experience which we have completed during the lockdown, while complying with all Covid guidelines, in line with Government Deadlines, we will reopen when deemed safe to do so, details will be posted on our website when known. 

However, in the interim, not resting on our laurels, we are presently in the process of finalizing some additional enhancements which when complete will further add to the visitor experience. We will insert some photographs on our website when these are complete.

Thank you for the many positive comments received in relation to Marie's article published last week concerning the floral inspiration for Johanna Carter's unique Mountmellick Embroidery patterns. In a continuation of this theme, Marie has penned a follow up piece below which further informs the reader. 

Over to you Marie and thank you.

Ann Dowling

Chairperson of Mountmellick Embroidery and Heritage Museum.


Our article last week referred to the local floral inspiration for Johanna Carter's Mountmellick Embroidery patterns.

The positive comments and reaction to the text and photographs have encouraged us to do a second article on the same topic.

The following is a list of plants from one of our museum storyboards, most commonly used in patterns for Mountmellick Embroidery: Blackberry, Acorn, Dog Rose, Holly, Wheat, Ivy, Elderberry, Shamrock, Catkins, Vine leaves, long stemmed Blackberry, Grapes on Vine, Daisy, Tiger lily, Fuchsia, Hops, Bindweed, Virginian Creeper, Forget-me-not, Elder, Clover, Honeysuckle, Passion Flower, Thistle, Sweet pea, Pimpernel, Bryony, Oak leaves and Maidenhair Fern. 

Most of these plants would have grown in profusion along the banks of the local river Oweness, on stone walls, laneways, fields, and gardens. However, a few were cultured varieties grown in greenhouses e.g., the Tiger Lily, Passion Flower, and Grapes on Vine. 

A couple of the above plants might be considered as invasive weeds in our gardens, for example the Bindweed and Thistle! I refer to bindweed as 'The Garden Strangler'! However, at the moment, as both are in full bloom, we can appreciate the beauty of the purple thistle and the snow-white flower of the bindweed.

When cuttings of the plants and flowers are laid down on the patterns, we can see how detailed and accurate the sketching and drawings were, works of art in themselves.

In nature we see the flowers blooming in glorious colour, in the patterns we appreciate the black and white detail and drawing skills, and in the embroidered pieces we marvel at the shape, detail, texture, density and stitchery of this hand-crafted art form. Occasionally a little bird or butterfly are also included in the pattern.

Mountmellick Embroidery is Irish in origin and design and part of our Intangible Cultural Heritage.

We are also including one picture from a book 'Pictorial Guide to The Quaker Tapestry', of Quaker Botanists. The caption reads "The universe is always singing, and that man must learn to listen, so that his heart may join the universal chorus." 

Text from that book page reads Friends considered gardening and botany as innocent relaxations, likely to lead to habits of contemplation.” 

Perhaps today we might refer to this as creative mindfulness!!!

We hope you enjoy the rest of the summer days and get out to appreciate all nature's wonderful beauty. Does anybody just go out for a 'stroll' anymore?

Marie Walsh 

Secretary and Treasurer of Museum