Newly acquired Limerick Lace shawl belonging to Kitty Kiernan to be on display as Limerick Museum re-opens

Limerick Lace

Limerick Lace shawl: Limerick City Museum, Limerick Lace exhibit with Mayor of Limerick City and County, Michael Sheahan. Picture: Keith Wiseman

Newly acquired Limerick Lace shawl belonging to Kitty Kiernan to be on display as Limerick Museum re-opens

An iconic Limerick Lace shawl belonging to Kitty Kiernan (1892-1945), fiancée of Irish revolutionary Michael Collins has been acquired by Limerick Museum.

The 100-year old antique shawl is in itself, a most stunning piece, which measures 109cm by 98cm and features intricate and beautiful floral designs. However, what makes it iconic is that it was a gift to Kitty from her husband Major-General Felix Cronin. It comes with a handwritten note which reads:

‘I purchased this piece of Irish lace in 1942 in Limerick. It was stated to be from a Mrs. O’Brien House who was a lacemaker and teacher of lace-making in County Limerick about sixty years ago. I purchased the lace shawl for my wife at a cost of two pounds. Signed Felix Cronin.’

The reverse side of the note reads: ‘Purchased Mr. Bennet’s Shop, Adare, Co. Limerick, Old Creamery Road, June 1942.’

Limerick Lace

Limerick Museum, Limerick Lace exhibit with Mayor of Limerick City and County, Michael Sheahan. Picture: Keith Wiseman

Kitty Kiernan was born in Granard, Co Longford where her family had several businesses including the Greville Arms Hotel, where she met Michael Collins in 1918. They were engaged to be married when he was killed at Béal na mBláth during the Civil War, a tragedy from which she never fully recovered. In 1925 she married Felix Cronin and they had two sons, the second of whom they called Michael Collins Cronin.  At her own request, she was buried in Glasnevin Cemetery as close as possible to her great love, Michael Collins.

The shawl will be on display to visitors when Limerick Museum re-opens on Monday 29 June as part of Phase 3 of the Roadmap for Reopening Business and Society.

Limerick Museum is open from Monday to Friday from 10 am to 5 pm. Admission is free.

Specific guidelines to help stop the spread of Covid-19 will be in effect in the Museum including social/ physical distancing, proper hand, and coughing hygiene protocols. All these measures are being introduced for the protection of visitors and staff.

Mayor of the City and County of Limerick Cllr Michael Sheahan said: “I’m delighted that Limerick Museum is re-opening. What Coivd-19 has thought us is that arts and culture are a very important outlets for us. Let’s hope more people will now visit what is truly an important part of our culture. Indeed the acquisition of Kitty Kiernan’s shawl is a wonderful addition to the Museum’s fantastic collection of Limerick Lace. The love story of Michael Collins and Kitty Kiernan is one of the most famous and tragic in Irish history. It is fascinating to discover this previously unknown connection between Kitty and one of Limerick’s most iconic industries.”

Dr Matthew Potter, Curator of Limerick Museum added: “We are overjoyed to add this beautiful lace shawl to our collection, especially as it was made in the Limerick lace-making school established in Limerick by philanthropist and lace designer Florence Vere O’Brien.”

“Last year, Florence’s magnificent collection of Limerick lace was given to Limerick Museum on long term loan by her granddaughter Veronica Rowe, who was thrilled to hear that we had got the Kitty Kiernan shawl.”

“We are delighted that the Museum is re-opening next Monday. The Museum is a window into a Limerick that’s past and we have seen such a huge interest during the lockdown that we are looking forward to welcoming many new as well as familiar faces back when the doors open on Monday.”

Limerick Museum is open from Monday to Friday from 10 am to 5 pm. Admission is free.

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