Mother Mary Anne Smith was a nun at Presentation Convent, Youghal, in the mid-1800s. A time in Ireland that was neither prosperous nor pretty. The great famine was wreaking havoc and devastation all over the country. Mother Mary Anne, recognizing the need for a turn-around in local economy and income, did not set about on a national campaign – No… Mother Mary Ann started at home –she set out to improve the lives and livelihoods of Youghal.
At around that time Mother Mary Anne had in her possession a piece of cloth – Italian Lace. Inspiration! Mother Mary unpicked and unravelled the intricate stitches in that cloth and memorized their make-up. She practiced until she mastered the art of the Lace stitching to such a degree that she was in a position to teach the young girls at the convent how to make lace – always with a view to making the entire exercise into a marketable commodity.
Such was the adeptness of many of the girls at this lace making that a School of Lace was established 1852. Youghal School of Lace was an All Girls school and soon developed into a thriving and profitable “cottage industry”. The school flourished in recognition e.g. 1863: a Youghal Lace shawl was commissioned and presented to the Princess of Wales as a wedding gift and indeed the school was commissioned to make many lace gifts for Royal households. Youghal Lace was awarded many prizes for their product at international exhibitions over the years….
After the death of Mother Mary Anne in 1872 the work at Youghal School of Lace was continued under the able guidance of Mother Mary Regis Lynch and continued to thrive.
For recognizing a need, finding a solution and following your ideals, on this
International Woman’s Day 2022
Mother Mary Anne Smith we say Thank You and salute you!
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