The Irish Lace Industry dates back from the period of the Great Famine.  Lace making, which had been an occupation for the leisure of ladies of position, was to be pursued as a profitable industry by humble workers and it was introduced among the peasantry.
It was Mrs. Grey Porter, wife of the then Rector of Donaghmoyne, Co. Monaghan, who imported some lace from Italy and her maid, Ann Steadman, copied it.  This work attracted great attention - so much so, that a Miss Reid of Rahans, conceived the idea of relieving the misery of the surrounding poor by giving them this new means of earning a livelihood.  The first Lace School was an outhouse on her brother's farmyard - where girls had come to make this lace from designs brought from Italy by Mrs. Porter.  A school-house was built in Culloville, Co. Armagh, and girls came from surrounding districts to learn this work whose reputation spread far and wide.
It was about 1846 that Carrickmacross became the centre of the Industry and gave it's name to the appliqué work that had so long been made in the immediate neighborhood.
A Mr. Tristan Kennedy was the then manager of the Bath Estate, and in conjunction with Captain Morant, the agent of the Shirley Estate, turned a vacant house into a school called "Bath and Shirley" School which did much good work to hand down the industry to the present day.
Further steps were taken to extend the industry by the introduction of "guipure" lace, which is very distinct and equally celebrated kind of Carrickmacross Lace.  A new stimulus was given to the work when the lace was undertaken by the Sisters of St. Louis, who arrived in Carrickmacross on the 24th September, 1888 and opened a convent in the once famous Essex Castle.  The lace tradition has been passed on through many caring hands - Sr. Mary Catherine, Sr. Lawerance and Sr. Cronin until their lace department closed in 1988.
Much of the delicate beauty of Carrickmacross appliqué lace is owing to the various fancy stitches, which are worked on plain net background, i.e. cobweb, diamond and florettes, the latter which can be used singularly, in clusters or in successive lines.  Filling-in stitches, on each piece of lace, will vary accordingly to taste.  Each piece of lace is looped to complete the border and these loops are one of the distinctive characteristics of Carrickmacross Lace.
A hand-made piece of lace always shows something of the character of the artist and, when the design and stitching are of high quality, the lace will be sought after by the connoisseur.