Can one eat too many cucumbers?

I managed to poison myself. I woke up with tummy pain. I had a light breakfast that included cheese and cucumbers, hoping it would go away. At lunch, I ate a banana – I wasn’t hungry at all.

Then I started thinking about what I had eaten yesterday. I had cheese, bread, tomatoes and cucumbers from our own garden, and then new potatoes with a cucumber salad. The only thing I might have had too much of were cucumbers. I grow them in the greenhouse and I eat most of them. I had a least one big cucumber every day since they started producing about 10 days ago. I gift them to neighbours and friends. But I love my cucumbers and they are mostly water anyhow, isn’t it?!

And then I decided to ask “doctor” Google. I landed on Quora:

“Too many cucumbers is detrimental to the renal system. It produces too much blood which is bad for blood vessels and heart. It produces too much water which overworks kidneys. The vitamin C is good but in large doses it promotes growth of free radicals. Potassium is good but large doses will overwork kidneys. Just keep with a daily recommended serving. I love cucumbers as well but too much of a bad thing is always harmful. Stay in moderation.”

Yesterday’s harvest!

and then The Times of India:

“Excessive intake of cucumbers may trigger Hyperkalemia, which is a rare medical condition caused due to the presence of high potassium content in the body. Excessive intake of potassium rich cucumber may lead to flatulence, abdominal cramps and in some cases it can affect the renal system and kidneys.”

Hyperkalemia landed me in hospital in January 2021, when I needed a cardioversion to get back on my feet. And I added a banana to the mix – talk about the body’s wisdom… Mine is a perfect idiot!

No more cucumbers for me for at least a week – until I detox!

July 31 2023 | Limerick | No Comments »

Looking for lace in Antwerp

In December 2021, we had booked a trip to Antwerp to go and see the much-advertised P.LACE.S – Looking through Antwerp Lace exhibition. Unfortunately, we had to cancel at the last minute, as another wave of COVID had reached The Netherlands and Belgium. I bought the exhibition catalogue, and followed Elena Kanagyi-Loux on social media (see her videos from Antwerp here, here, here, and here).

So this spring we naively planned a trip to Europe in May around the Vermeer exhibition at the Rijksmuseum. We didn’t manage to get tickets- didn’t even get close! But we had an enjoyable trip to Leiden and Antwerp, with stops in Rotterdam and Brussels.

In Antwerp, we went to see some of the places where the P.LACE.S exhibition happened: the Snijders & Rockox House, the Charles Borromeo Church, the Plantin Moretus Museum and the MoMu-Fashion Museum Antwerp. There was no lace to be seen anywhere. As in a previous visit in 2016, I was told that the lace collection in the Borromeus Church was open by appointment only on Wednesdays.

So my only excitement was reserved for the lace shop found opposite the Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekathedraal, Antwerps Kantwinkeltje, at Handschoenmarkt 12, 2000 Antwerpen, Belgium. I had come across the shop on a previous trip to Antwerp, and I wanted to go back ever since.

There’s a lot of machine made stuff in the shop window – a lot of tourists are buying souvenirs and don’t care much. But there are some really beautiful pieces inside. I bought a little Duchesse lace doily – it was €37.50 and the lady said she made it herself. There must have been more than 10 h of work to produce such a piece – if it was truly handmade, she was selling it for nothing!

May 19 2023 | Limerick | No Comments »

Visiting the Textile Research Centre in Leiden

I have been following the Textile Research Centre on social media for a while. When we decided to go on a trip to The Netherlands and spend a few days in Leiden, I contacted dr. Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood and organised a visit.

Dr. Vogelsang is working on an Encyclopaedia of Embroidery, and several of the Irish laces will be included in an upcoming volume.

I wanted to look at the collection of Irish Crochet Lace, as there were a lot of interesting pieces represented in the online catalogue.

May 18 2023 | Limerick | No Comments »

My bionic hip

Those who have seen me in the last year or two know that I had difficulty walking because of the terrible effects of arthritis (which is one of the blessings acromegaly bestowed upon me) in my left hip and knee. The right hip is not far behind, but it had the advantage of a supportive knee. It got to the point where pain kept me awake at night and prevented me from taking long walks or gardening. In 2021 I had physiotherapy for an extensive period of time. In 2022, I tried acupuncture and after many sessions, the pain diminished. I finally managed to persuade my doctor that I need to see an orthopaedic surgeon who confirmed my guess that my hip and knee were beyond any non-surgical options. This was in June last year. By August I had a plan: to get my hip replaced at the end of the autumn semester, recover at home while marking, and then take an extended Christmas break.

I joined not one, but two patient groups on Facebook talking about hip and knee replacements. It was a whole new education: I found out that Amazon has a hip replacement kit for sale, and that the best place to rest after surgery is not one’s bed, but a recliner. I heard horror stories and miraculous recovery ones.

Unfortunately, a tooth infection that started bothering me a week before the surgery date led to a major change of plans. Surgery had to be postponed until we were sure that the infection was gone. In a way, it was a fantastic present to get to spend the holiday season with my family before having surgery, but I was terribly worried about my capacity to go back teaching after the surgery.

When I finally got my new surgery date, it was the Friday before the start of the semester. The book says recovery takes 6-8 weeks. That meant that my teaching would be completely messed up. I pre-recorded lectures and tutorials for two weeks, marked interim reports of final year students, finished all my cooperative education “visits” (on line meetings with students who are working mostly online and with their employers), and put on an out-of-office.


Ray drove me to Bon Secours in Galway, and put me in the skilled hands of the medical staff there. Paperwork, XRays, ECG, and then I was off to the theatre. I was a bit worried about the epidural injection (never had one before) and the sedation. I asked the anaesthesiologist to make sure I’ll be asleep – people were talking about hearing hammering and sawing, and I didn’t want this to happen to me. I spoke about my previous bad reaction to morphine, and I was given a red hair net (as opposed to the ordinary blue ones) to signal the team I had an allergy of some sort.

I woke up in the recovery hall approximately 3h later. Someone was speaking Romanian to me, and I thought I was dreaming. No – my nurse’s name was Mihai , and he was indeed Romanian. On my other side was Catalina, another Romanian nurse. I couldn’t feel my legs nor wiggle my toes – actually I felt nothing at all, but this was all normal. Someone with a mobile X Ray machine showed up, and they took a picture of my new hip. And then “off I went” to the ward, wheeled over with my bed by Catalina. I slept a bit, then it was time for more toe wiggling attempts and a visit of the surgeon, who told me it all went well. I was a bit cold and asked for another blanket, but my lovely nurse brought a Bair Hugger to my bed. What a magic machine! I wish I had one at home to blow warm air under my duvet! In the afternoon I got tea and toast, and I got to choose my dinner from the menu. A pair of booties connected to my bed that were inflating alternatively at regular intervals were another treat – they massaged my feet, and together with the surgical socks, they were working to prevent the formation of blood cloths, which are one of the dangers of this type of surgery.

Before long, I got to stand up on my two legs, and I was told to put my weight on the operated leg. If you’ve never looked up what happens during a hip replacement surgery, I must tell you it’s pretty brutal. The fact that you can stand up immediately after is nothing short of a miracle.


On Saturday morning I got to wash myself in a tiny bowl with about 100 ml of water ( I was really grateful after that!) I changed into my own clothes and took another trip to Radiology, being wheeled with my bed by a porter. The XRay technician was Serbian, and he asked the usual: where are you from? On our way back, the porter got new marching orders and I was brought straight to the regular ward, sign that all was going well and they weren’t worried about me anymore. I got a room with a view to the world outside, and my ward mate left on the same afternoon. So I was on my own, watching telly, dozing off, taking pills, getting infusions, chatting to the nurses and eating fabulous food. The caterer had a tablet for reading the menu and ticking my options, which was really impressive. Never got one thing wrong! I was able to use a frame and go to the bathroom on my own, but in the afternoon I got a visit from my physiotherapist who gave me my crutches. I had no difficulty walking, I actually enjoyed it.


On Sunday I was feeling a lot better and I got dressed with a bit of help from the nurse. See, I was hoping I could go home. Some of the US patients in my group were sent home on the same day!


Monday was busy. A new nurse, a bit bossy, saw immediately that I knew far too much and I had “notions”. But she agreed to cooperate and help me have a shower and change into my street clothes again. Without the ton of painkillers from the previous days, I was able to read the novel I had brought with me. I was told to book my lift home for 1pm, and Ray arrived promptly after lunch. I got not one, but two porters to see me off. They waited for Ray to pull the car at the front and helped me into the car. This was the moment I dreaded – some hospitals run short courses for patients before surgery to teach them to get in and out of the bed, in and out of the car… But I made it! A plastic bag on the seat made all the difference! Thank you, thank you, thank you, Facebook buddies!

February 10 2023 | Limerick | No Comments »

Good bye, 2022

Looking back at 2022, I realise it was a good year for us. The COVID-19 pandemic slowly became less frightening, as the majority here got vaccinated. I started teaching again face-to-face in January and wore a mask consistently every time I was indoors- and so did my students! There were people testing positive and self-isolating left and right, but we were lucky enough to escape. We had a horrible flu instead, and the jury is still out if that was Covid-related or not. The most difficult thing was the “hybrid” teaching – I had to work with very small groups of students- a few in class, a few online, and simultaneously record both lectures and tutorials for those who couldn’t make it. At the end of the spring semester, I promised myself to never do anything like that again. It was draining, nerve racking and inefficient.

My main professional achievement was keeping my sanity throughout this, and helping my students to do the same as much as possible. Somehow, after a few really chaotic online conferences, I lost the will to attend, as I couldn’t focus. I also wrote less, as I couldn’t find my motivation. Everything else than teaching, supervising students and keeping projects on track went out of focus.

As many of my projects came to an end in 2022, I enjoyed a calmer year. Less firefighting, with the majority of meetings still taking place online meant that I was able to have lunch every day, and spend some of my short breaks out in the garden, doing minor chores. Having lunch every day is a gift the pandemic brought to me – I remember going to a health practitioner in 2018, and leaving with the “prescription” to try and have lunch at least 3 times a week. I had no time to eat, no time for breaks, and I was working 12-14 hours a day, 7 days a week. A miracle I survived!

I took on a reading challenge – to read 70 books this year. I haven’t reached my target – I am at 64, but read a lot more than in other years, and discovered new authors and genres. I signed up for Audible and started listening to audiobooks while gardening – this brought on strange associations between certain plants on my allotment and books or podcasts that seem to jump back at me while I’m harvesting what I sowed then. A bit of allotment psychogeography?

I joined East Clare Paddlers last year, and continued to go out with the club this year. It was wonderful to get out on the water as often as I could, from mid March till the end of October. I always loved being on the water, or in the water, and Scariff is a very special place, with a lot of interesting birds and plants. I was persuaded to do a Level 2 course, and I ended up enjoying it very much. We had two trips with Kayakmor, one on the sea in Galway Bay, and one on the Corrib, starting from Cong, around Ashford Castle. We paddled in the rain and in glorious sunshine, and I have learnt a lot.

I love swimming in the sea, in lakes and rivers, but before the pandemic I have never tried to get into open waters outside the summer months. In 2021, we had an October holiday by the sea and I swam every day, and now I am much more open to the idea of swimming all year-round. I am a good-enough swimmer, but can’t swim very long distances. There’s something special about being immersed in the water, and feeling one with nature! My last swim this year was in Snamh, in West Cork, at the end of October.

Lace making was another thing that brought me joy this year. I took several online classes, which proved quite good. The pandemic pushed the boundaries, and a lot of technical skills had to be acquired on the go, to make teaching possible. Having a peer group and pace helped a lot to get work done and avoid giving up! In the summer, I got to attend classes and events in person and meet other lacemakers – after so much time in isolation!

Travelling abroad wasn’t high on the agenda. I went to Timisoara for a week in March – that’s when my daughter got Covid and she could only join me for the last few days, and then we went to Siegen in June for the 25 years of Socio-Informatics conference – and that’s when we both got Covid. It wasn’t fun! However, we travelled up and down the country, falling in love with new places and going back to our favourite haunts.

Probably the biggest event of the year was volunteering for the West Cork Chamber Music Festival. I had this idea in 2019, when I was younger and had more energy. After attending the festival for 10 years in a row, I wanted to give something back. Then the pandemic came, and the 2020 and 2021 editions moved online. As I was already on the list in 2022, I decided to go ahead. We rented a place for 10 days, and was there from the opening till the closing.

I remember getting the email appointing me “lead usher” for the Bantry House venue – I was so excited! I got to work on 3-4 concerts every day, so there wasn’t time left for anything else. Ray, who worked online from there, “was volunteered” as well for most evenings. We got to listen to some amazing chamber music – many I wouldn’t have chosen to go to if not working. Hopefully I’ll get to write more about this experience – there’s a draft waiting to be finished here somewhere! If I were 5 years younger, I would do it every year. We’ll definitely be back in 2023 as spectators!

It was a good year for me and my dear ones – a more “normal” year than 2021, although nothing is normal when we have a war going on in Europe, and everybody seems to be struggling. Hoping that 2023 will find us a bit wiser, kinder to our fellows and to the planet, and more open to make much-needed changes!

December 31 2022 | Limerick | No Comments »

Teaching in the COVID era

As someone who has been working online for the last 10 years (at least), moving my teaching online wasn’t a big deal. Also, I had been working with the 2019-2020 cohorts of students for 6-7 weeks already when the first lockdown happened in March 2020, so I knew them quite well and the online interaction was an oasis of human interaction in the madness and fear of those early days of the pandemic.

The autumn of 2020 was probably the most difficult one for me. 250+ students were added to one of my modules – Introduction to Digital Media. I was teaching fully online and the rules kept on changing from one day to another. I was trying to place students in groups, while for the majority of them it was only a matter of trying out this module and moving to another one. And sometimes coming back after 2-3 weeks. And somehow we all survived. What I learnt last autumn was that I needed the audience to be able to lecture. Dry runs did not work for me. And even if my students rarely asked a question, I found ways of conversing with them. They preferred anonymity, so I gave them anonymous surveys and discussed the answers in class. The things I found out this way…

This year, the 300+ module is split in two groups – the one where people keep on coming and going- has about 200. The second one has around 100 students, including many Erasmus and international students. And I am blessed to have two colleagues helping with the tutorials- at the beginning of the semester I was also doing 6 1h tutorials every week. One of the things I attempt to teach these students is starting their own blog/portfolio. Some hit the ground running, some others need a lot of handholding, which is easy in a lab, but gets a bit complicated in an online environment.

Their first blog post/ assignment was due at the end of October. I did my best to read and mark each and every assignment, so that the most common mistakes would be eliminated before the second assignment was due. To be more efficient, I used a spreadsheet. There is a tool in the learning management system that allows me to upload the spreadsheet and allow each student to only see their own detailed feedback. It took about 6 days of working from 9am to 9pm to get through all of the posts. The first batch, for the 200+ group was uploaded midweek – I had 2 errors, but they were easy to identify and remove. Feedback caused a flurry of emails, but all was good. The second batch – about 100 assignments – took longer than expected (there was some firefighting on other issues in the meantime), and on Thursday evening when I tried to upload my spreadsheet I got a strange error. It was close to midnight, so I decided to call it a day.

On Friday morning, I got up at 5 am and attempted the procedure again. Same error. I looked at my spreadsheet, and the Korean-like name of a student’s blog jumped at me. I deleted it from the list, and tried again.

That error was gone, but instead I got a list of students who allegedly were not known to the system. Actually, all of them minus two. The two students were late transfers, and I remember having looked for their student numbers in another system and having typed them in. So that content was somehow different. I eliminated them from the list. I tried formatting the Student Number field as Text. Then as General. Then as Number. Nothing worked. Same stupid error.

9 am was getting close. I had a lecture at 10, and if I couldn’t get the feedback out by 10, it was going to be completely useless, as the students had to submit the second assignment by 5pm on that day. I tried to remember how I did it in the old times, with a spreadsheet and a form, copying the content of each form to an email. It was doable for 25 students, but now I had 100. Couldn’t find that functionality anymore. I decided to try Google Sheets- maybe it was there, so uploaded the spreadsheet to the Google Drive. No luck – form was creating a new empty form. 8:55. I decided to try something stupid – to download the Google Sheet as CSV. Guess what? It worked! This time it worked! I have absolutely no explanation for this. Google “healed” my ailing spreadsheet. No idea how. Magic! I emailed the students, and I couldn’t refrain from thinking of Google with gratitude.

Maybe I should have lit a candle to Saint Efrem the New – who allegedly oversees IT in Romania. And I’m afraid I haven’t learnt anything from all this other than to continue trying out all ideas, no matter how stupid they appear to be. So now I’m going to the market to enjoy my well deserved weekend. I don’t want to think about how I would feel if this hadn’t worked out!

November 13 2021 | Limerick | No Comments »

Acromegaly Awareness Day

1st of November is Acromegaly Awareness Day and encouraged by our wonderful Acromegaly Community leader Jill Sisco, I decided to write a post on being a patient with acromegaly.

For years, I have experienced horrendous headaches and sinus infections, extreme fatigue and loss of sight. I was a busy mother, auntie, wife and daughter with a big house, a big garden and a full time job that also involved travel. My GP dismissed all my complaints, and all he ever prescribed was a holiday. At one point, I visited a friend whose mother was a neurologist. She looked at me and said I should get an X Ray of the sella turcica. I paid no attention – doctors only see diseases in people, and at that point I was feeling just fine. And then, a couple of years later, when the headaches became more frequent and the ENT saw me every month and prescribed yet another antibiotic, a cousin of my husband, a doctor living abroad who had never met me, came for lunch. 5 minutes after he left our house, he rang my sister-in-law in another city, recommending that I get tested for acromegaly. At this point, I was desperate for a diagnosis and a cure. When the GP yet again laughed in my face, I went to see a neurologist. She sent me for a CT scan (MRI was not available at the time), and the radiologist, whose son was a friend of my kids, looked really worried when she told me there was something there, in the sphenoid sinus, but more investigations would be needed. All I could think of was a malignant tumour. I knew it was there, and it was good to get a confirmation.

At this point, I was living in Romania and teaching in a private university. I had just received a postdoctoral research grant from ERCIM and I was going to join Fraunhofer IESE in Kaiserslautern, Germany on September 1st 2003. Working in research was a dream I had all my life. Nobody had any idea of a diagnosis in Romania, and much less of a treatment, so I decided to go to Germany anyhow. I would pursue the fellowship and then come home to die.

All seemed great in Germany until I got a really bad sinus infection, an eye looked like it was going to pop out of my head, and I went to the ER in the local hospital. I was sent to a university hospital nearby, where my sinus infection was treated with one antibiotic after another. I got an MRI and a biopsy of the mass in the sphenoid sinus, and the diagnosis was acromegaly. The neurosurgeon was in a hurry to excise it, but the brilliant endocrinologist in charge of my case prescribed a 3-month treatment that managed to shrink my adenoma to half of its initial size, making surgery possible. The doctors who treated me reckoned that the adenoma had grown there for 10-15 years prior to surgery. A pituitary adenoma is not a brain tumour, and it is usually benign. But it can wrap itself around arteries and the optical nerve, which makes surgery dangerous and difficult. My adenoma was 2.5 cm in diameter – which is considered a macro-adenoma. It had grown through the bone into my sphenoid sinus and it had filled it – hence my horrible headaches.

I had surgery at the Grosshadern Clinic in Munich on the 9th of March 2004. For a while, my blood tests approached normal values. But then the symptoms reoccured, although there was no new adenoma. I moved to Ireland in 2005 and it took 4 years to find a consultant who understood what was going on. He told me that I was in denial, and I had never been cured, and I needed medication to control my acromegaly. I am on a drug called Sandostatin LAR monthly since May 2009, and luckily I can lead a normal life.

The most important thing in relation to rare diseases is early diagnosis. TV series such as House, Grey’s Anatomy and ER have done a great job at increasing awareness about rare diseases. Grey’s Anatomy even had an episode with an acromegalic patient.

I am forever grateful to the Acromegaly Community leader, Jill Sisco, who works tirelessly with specialists and Pharma companies to increase communication and to make sure the patients’ voices are heard. Due to her, we get invited to conferences and seminars where the latest developments in diagnosis and treatment are discussed.

I am one of the lucky ones – medication works for me, and there was no reoccurrence of the adenoma. Having the support of an international community of patients and families makes a huge difference. I have a brilliant consultant endocrinologist looking after me, I was invited to take part in several studies and Ireland has an acromegaly patient register. For a couple of years, I have curated a resource titled Acromegaly News on Nowadays I collect resources on diigo.

I want to leave you with an excellent explanatory video made by a fellow patient based in the UK, Dan Jeffrey. Dan published a memoir on his experience of living not with one, but with two rare conditions.

Dan Jeffrey –Me, Myself & Eye blog

And if you are interested in the experience of other patients with acromegaly, there’s another 2011 anthology I can recommend: Alone in My Universe.

November 01 2021 | Limerick | No Comments »

Going back to normal…

After spending so much time at home between March 2020 and now – 18 months, they say, I’m afraid I can’t do “normal” anymore. We went to the market this morning.

I spotted a few acquaintances – normally I would have made sure to say hello, but I found myself paralysed and wondering what should I do. I wore my mask in all the crowded areas, noticing with terror that a lot of merchants had given up their face coverings.

We split our tasks, to minimise the amount of time spent in shops. And when we decided to sit down for a cuppa in an outdoors cafe, I chose the most isolated and remote table, away from the awning.

I carry a small bottle of disinfectant in my bag at all times. I am weary of any kind of approach, even when it comes to cute children or dogs. Will sociality ever come back to me?

I was watching people going about their business, and noticed how everybody’s dressed for the home, in track suits and runners. I’m wearing jeans and a T-shirt myself – I couldn’t be bothered to make more effort. In the beginning, I kept on applying lipstick when going out, and smearing it all on the inside of the mask. I’ve stopped a long time ago. I haven’t even looked at my high heel shoes since this started. And last time when I made an effort to dress up was in spring when I finally got an appointment for a hair cut.

Is this the new normal?!

We got so used to walking “the three bridges” walk, or the Canal Bank, or visiting the Barrington’s Pier. or quiet neighbourhoods , that the city centre appears too crowded and noisy, with all the news on “relaxation“.

I can’t even imagine going to concerts, restaurants and cinemas anytime soon. I am languishing. I think I’ve turned into a recluse, and it will take a lot of work and reassurance to go back to any kind of “normal” from where I am today.

October 28 2021 | Limerick | No Comments »

Finding my lace tribe

While meet-ups and events with local lacemakers have all been cancelled, the last 20 months have been extremely rich in online events, that I was able to attend from my own bedroom, sometimes with some crochet or knitting work at hand.

I took a contemporary lace design workshop titled Needle Lace Narratives with Maggie Hensel-Brown at DFZ 2021 and I have been completely fascinated by her art since. Here’s an article about her work and she’s giving a talk soon as part of the CDMC series of talks on textiles soon.

I have been attending a Clones Lace class offered by the Lace Museum lately, and our teacher Maire Treanor and the Lace Museum organised a special talk on Orvieto lace last night. Orvieto is a small city in Umbria, and Orvieto lace has a very interesting history, being heavily influenced by Irish crochet lace.

Instrumental in the revival and preservation of Orvieto lace was the great Maria Vittoria Ovidi Pazzaglia, who taught Orvieto lace and published several books on lace. This is an interview with her that I managed to trace down and read via Google Translate.


Unfortunately, Maria Vittoria passed away last year, so we had her daughter Natalia Pazzaglia, and a former student, Alessandra talking to us, a group of Clones lacemakers and our teacher. Maria Vittoria and Alessandra had visited Clones a couple of years back.

The time spent with the two ladies was a delight. The meeting had no set agenda, so we were free to ask questions and satisfy our curiosity. Alessandra did not speak English, so Natalia played the role of interpreter, and also spoke with great emotion about her mother and her work.

Orvieto lace has very distinctive 3D characteristics, and to find out how that effect is obtained was a real surprise. The lacemakers use a “chiave a brugola” (which we identified as an Allen key with the help of Google Translate) that they heat in fire, to press their lace from behind and create the 3D effect. In the old time, they used oversized gate keys. The conversation also revolved around materials (helping me to discover the source of Presencia thread), themes and shapes. We were showed beautiful earrings and other ornaments made in Orvieto lace.


A lace school is functioning nowadays in the nearby city of Bolsena, and is organising an exhibition every second year.

This is a video introducing Ars Wietana or Orvieto lace (in English).

It also helped a lot when Natalia mentioned other types of lace made in Italy, such as sfilato siciliano, punto taglio merletto and pizzo macrame (not sure of my spelling!).

Recently, an Italian friend who visited Isola Maggiore also told me about the local lace inspired by the Irish crochet lace tradition.

October 14 2021 | Limerick | No Comments »

Learning more about Lace

My interest in lace started with the Amazing Lace project initiated by the Limerick Museum. In March 2014, I was invited to join a team led by city archivist Jacqui Hayes and Dr. Matthew Potter, working on an exhibition and a book dedicated to the history of Limerick lace. I was incredibly fortunate to have our master in Interactive Media student Suzanna Melin joining me on this journey. From March till December, we participated in team meetings and worked as part of a team on an interactive installation that was part of the exhibition launched in December 2014.

This is when I decided I wanted to learn how to make this delicate lace. I attended an initiation workshop in Limerick lace in 2014, and then another one in 2015. In 2015, I joined Toni O’Malley’s class for an autumn term in the Hunt Museum and managed to acquire the basics.

When COVID hit, we had planned a series of lace making sessions in the fabulous Captain’s Room in the Hunt Museum. The idea was to allow visitors to see that Limerick lace is alive and thriving, and to be able to answer their questions. Only the first session happened, in February 2020. We attempted a second one online, in May 2020. But the interest was limited, and so I almost completely lost touch with the other lace makers.

This made me turn my attention to online events, and in August 2020 I joined IOLI, The International Organisation of Lace.IOLI offers an online lace talk each month, and is organising a full online Virtual Convention in July.

On February 21st, I had the chance to watch a fascinating lecture by Michael Yonan on Empress Maria Theresa’s Lace Dress.

You can read Michael Yonan’s article on the topic here.

A piece of the dress (possibly a sleeve) is in the collection of the The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

And a few days later, the amazing Fashion and Lace Museum in Brussels offered an online talk by Caroline Esgain on the history of the Brussels Lace (French only) – where the story of this incredible dress surfaced again!

March 18 2021 | Limerick | No Comments »

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