Laois gift for Prince

Prince Charles and his wife Camilla accept a gift of Mountmellick Work by Ann O'Brien, from Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan and his wife Mary, during their Irish visit on May 21 2015.
A piece of Mountmellick emboidery by Ann O’Brien was presented to the Prince of Wales and his wife Camilla, by Minister Charlie Flanagan.

A piece of Mountmellick emboidery by Ann O’Brien was presented to the Prince of Wales and his wife Camilla, by Minister Charlie Flanagan.

The embroidered Mountmellick Work was presented to Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall, by the Minister for Foreign Affairs and his wife Mary, last Thursday, May 21, in Sligo.

“I am delighted to have had the opportunity of presenting the royal couple with a piece of Mountmellick work.

“The Prince was most interested in hearing of the Quaker heritage with particular reference to commerce and industry and the linen craft,” said Minister Flanagan.

The Prince said he was honoured to accept such a unique gift from the Irish Midlands and assured Minister Flanagan that he would hang the work in a special place.

Mountmellick lady Ann O’Brien is delighted her artwork has found a royal home.

“It’s marvellous, it’s great for the people of Mountmellick, that Charlie had something local to give. I feel very proud,” said Ann.

She was inspired to make the piece in 2011, after Queen Elizabeth visited Ireland.

“Her visit was about reconciliation, peace and welcome, so when Charlie asked if I had a piece, I felt it was the perfect one,” she said.

The panel depicts Tudor roses tied with strings of shamrock, held up by doves of peace. It took her over 100 hours to complete.

“It is a lovely historic piece. Inside the rose petals are butterfly wings, as butterflies signify change,” Ann said.

She learned Mountmellick work as a child from her mother, and now teaches it.

“It is lovely to do it, and lovely to teach it,” said Ann, who won first prize in the National Craft Fair for her piece ‘Phoenix’ based on 9/11, later exhibiting that in New York.

Mountmellick Work is a subtle intricate style of white on white embroidery, popularised after the famine when a Mountmellick Quaker lady employed women to make it to generate income.

Mary O’Brien hopes the publicity will increase tourism to her town, and interest in its embroidery. “Wouldn’t it be great,” she said.