Kilcoole woman Clodagh McCormick (nee Grubb) has officially launched her book, Samplers, Sewing and Simplicity in Quaker Ireland at Dun Laoghaire’s Lexicon Library. Taking almost a decade or thereabouts to complete, it was the covid lockdown of 2019 which finally gave Clodagh the time and space to complete her book.
Hailing from a sheep farming family in Fethard, Co.Tipperary, Clodagh would often be found churning butter, stitching or hiding in a corner, head deep in a book, so it’s no surprise that she herself has penned and illustrated a book about needlework. Growing up on a working farm during World War 2 certainly helped form her staunchly practical outlook and it was the realisation that there was no officially recorded history or archives of Irish samplers (excluding Heather Crawford’s ‘Needlework Samplers of Northern Ireland’), that was one of the spurring factors for her to embark on her book.
Both of Clodaghs’ parents placed a high value on the importance of education for both girls and boys and it’s no wonder that she had a place in Trinity College at the age of just 17. She continued on to graduate with a degree in History, Geography & English before training as a teacher and commencing her career as a teacher at Avoca & Kingstown school in Monkstown and later at Newpark Comprehensive, Blackrock. It wasn’t until 1984 that she returned to Trinity College, the same year that the Department of Drama was founded. With the combination of her being married to one of the founders, John McCormick, the fact that the department had opened on a shoestring budget and that she had a flair for design and textiles, naturally she was the ideal candidate for this ‘job’ (aka voluntary role!)
Samplers, Sewing and Simplicity in Quaker Ireland, offers an in depth look into the various aspects of life for Quaker women both rich and poor. It examines their similarities as closely as their differences not only in their stitching but also their education, regional characteristics and their skills in household management. The author highlights throughout, the importance of needlework to the household, not only economically but also aesthetically. Not only was needlework a means to earn money aswell as providing the necessary household linens required to run the household but it also served as an outlet for artistic expression.
The book was officially launched by Liz Moffit, Senior Tutor in fashion design at The Grafton Academy who on the night commended Clodaghs unwavering dedication to the preservation of this valuable historical record and acknowledged Clodaghs contribution to Irish textile history.
‘The work that Clodagh and her colleagues are doing at the Friends Library at Stocking Lane is invaluable. We are delighted to be collaborating with Clodagh on the launch of her book here at the Lexicon. In addition, her photographic sampler exhibition will remain in situ at the library until the end of the month.’ – Carmel Kelly, Senior Executive Librarian at the Lexicon Library, Dun Laoghaire.
Although this is Clodagh’s first solo publication, she is no stranger to writing, having co-authored ‘The Victorian Marionette Theatre’ alongside her husband, John McCormick in 2004. She also produced ‘Quaker Girl, Anne Grubb. Plain Living and Fancy Sewing’ a story and paper doll booklet in 2015.
Now in her 9th decade, Clodagh exudes boundless passion and enthusiasm not just for all things textile and design but for the value in preserving their accompanying stories and accurate historical information for generations to come. When she is not writing or researching her next book, she enjoys gardening, cooking, a decent craft beer and encouraging her 7 grand children and 9 great-grand children to do more sewing!
Samplers, Sewing and Simplicity in Quaker Ireland by Clodagh Grubb can be purchased from any one of the 8 Dun Laoghaire Rathdown Libraries aswell as online from Mountmellick Development Association. To purchase and collect locally, contact us here.