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The Art of the Stitch: The Enduring Legacy of Maude Kearney launches at Limerick Museum



Councillor Gerald Mitchell, Mayor of the City and County of Limerick launched an exhibition, The Art of the Stitch, The Enduring Legacy of Maude Kearney exhibition of lace from the Maude Kearney Collection. Maude’s granddaughter Grania McElligott toghther with her family officially handed over of the Maude Kearney Lace Collection to Limerick City Museum represented by Zara Power. Picture: Keith Wiseman

The Maude Kearney Lace Collection has been officially handed over to Limerick Museum by Maude’s granddaughter Grania McElligott

Mary and Lilly O’Sullivan Castletroy admiring the needlework. Picture: Keith Wiseman

The Art of the Stitch: The Enduring Legacy of Maude Kearney exhibition is now open at the museum located in the Old Franciscan Friary on Henry Street.

Maude Kearney (1873-1963) was one of the greatest figures in the history of Limerick lace. In 1904, she opened her lacemaking business in Limerick, revitalising the art of Limerick lacemaking.

At a time when women’s roles were largely confined to the home, Maude whizzed around in a sports car, ran a thriving commercial enterprise, which provided a source of employment for at least fifty local women, built a property empire in Dublin – and all while caring for her family of five children. Maude was a Renaissance woman in the truest sense, and this exhibition celebrates her lasting legacy, fifteen decades after her birth.


Earlier this year, Grania McElligott agreed to donate her grandmother’s historic lace collection to Limerick Museum and the Mayor of the City and County of Limerick, Cllr Gerald Mitchell, accepted the collection on behalf of the people of Limerick.

Mayor Cllr Gerald Mitchell said, “This is one of the most significant donations to Limerick Museum for many years. It is one of the biggest collections of Limerick lace in private ownership, so this donation will make the Museum’s collection of Limerick lace the largest in existence.”

The Mayor noted the collection as being “of very high quality” and also commented on the “many unique and rare items” saying, “It has a very historic provenance in that the collection belonged to Maude Kearney, the leading figure in Limerick lace for fifty years.”

He added, “On behalf of the people of Limerick I wish to thank Grania and her family for their great generosity in giving their priceless collection to Limerick Museum. I am honoured and delighted to accept the Maude Kearney Lace Collection from Grania McElligott. Thank you.”

Dr Matthew Potter, Curator of Limerick Museum said, “I want to thank my colleagues Dr Zara Power and John Elliott for their work on this exhibition. I expect that many Limerick people and many other people from outside Limerick will come to see the Maude Kearney Lace Collection, both to enjoy these beautiful artefacts and to get a better picture of Limerick’s rich tradition in the decorative arts – a tradition that we need to both understand and commemorate.”

Maude Kearney lace collection
Maude’s granddaughter Grania McElligott toghther with her family officially handed over of the Maude Kearney Lace Collection to Matthew Potter and Zara Power Limerick City Museum. Picture: Keith Wiseman

Grania McElligott commented, “I think that, through Maude’s extraordinary influence, the heritage of the Art of the Stitch, which she passed on to me and to many others, is now being passed on to other generations, albeit in a rather different way. On behalf of my sisters Fionnuala and Geraldine, I wish to formally hand over the Maude Kearney Collection into the safekeeping of Limerick Museum. Having it here in the city where it belongs is a wonderful opportunity to portray the influence of this awe-inspiring, indomitable woman, whom we are proud to call our grandmother.” 

The Art of the Stitch: The Enduring Legacy of Maude Kearney, continues in Limerick Museum until 31 January 2024. Limerick Museum is situated in the Old Franciscan Friary on Henry Street, across from Dunnes Stores.

The Museum is open to the public Monday to Friday 10.00am to 5.00pm; Saturday 10.00am-1.00pm and 2.00pm to 5.00pm

Find out more here.
Read more Limerick culture stories here.

Richard is a presenter, producer, songwriter and actor. He was named the Limerick Person of the Year (2011) and won an online award at the Metro Éireann Media and Multicultural Awards (2011) for promoting multi-culturalism online. Richard says that the concept is very much a community driven project that aims to document life in Limerick. So, that in 20 years time people can look back and remember the events that were making the headlines.