Sewing Stories from the Past stitched by local primary school pupils



Stories from the past have been given a creative and decorative twist by the pupils of a local primary school.

Third class pupils in Mercy Primary School, Birr unveiled their unusual and beautiful pieces of quilt work, entitled ‘Sewing Stories from the Past’ in Birr library as part of the Cruinniu na nOg programme of events last week.

Welcoming everyone to the event, new county Librarian Eimear McGinn, provided some context to the project by explaining it was funded as part of the Cruinniu na nOg programme of events, taking place in the libraries around the county.

She then thanked artist, Caroline Conway, who facilitated the project with the pupils, as well as the school and its students for taking part in the wonderful exhibition.

Teacher, Therese de Chaumont, said the class had the pleasure of working with Caroline once again as part of this project. “We all learnt how to sew and it was very exciting. The girls really enjoyed this project.”

Inspiration for the project came from the old stories of Birr and also from submisssions made from pupils in Mercy Primary School to the ‘Schools’ Collection’ in the 1930s, available on

Handing over to her excited pupils, Therese said the girls were delighted to be able to tell everyone about the work they did every week in “their own words”. On May 3, Caroline came to their classroom to talk to the pupils about Birr in the olden days and they were shown a slide show of old photos and maps of Birr.

The students also heard about the Duchas project and the pupils read old stories collected long ago. “We heard about mischievous fairies and headless horse men, carriage building and candle making,” the pupil enthused.

During their second session, they met with local historian Margaret Hogan, who talked about Birr long ago. In their next session, the students sketched pictures based on the old stories they had heard and artist, Caroline gave them a needle and thread and showed them how to sew.

“We practised stitching with different colour thread and we were very excited. Now, we were ready to start the real thing. We were given a square, a piece of felt and a needle and thread. We were super excited. We carefully sewed the felt shaped together to create our pictures.”

The following week, the work continued and the picture patches were coming together nicely. The pupils then sewed accessories onto their work and in week six, the students wrote out their work and decorated it. Week seven saw the pupils have their final session with Caroline and they were extremely busy making posters and invites for their forthcoming exhibition.

“When Caroline showed us our project, we were amazed. She had sewn all our pictures together and doesn’t it look fantastic. We are very proud of our work.”

A presentation was then made to Caroline before she spoke briefly about working with the third class pupils on this project. “This project is about integrating the work that is already going on in the classroom. It’s about doing stuff they would be doing in the classroom. Just in another way.” Concluding, Caroline complimented the class for their attitude and hard work. It was a lovely experience to work on this project,” she added.

This folklore quilt and project will be on display until the end of June in Birr Library and is well worth a visit to see the pupils’ beautiful and creative work.

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