Taking advantage of my excursion back home, I visited the Ros Tapestry held in the Ros Expo on the Quay, New Ross. The Tapestry is an amazing accomplishment which was started way back in 1998 by Ann Bernstorff and over 100 dedicated embroiderer volunteers from the wider New Ross community.
The tapestry has been a huge artistic undertaking, detailing fifteen richly embroidered panels, although the project is still three panels short of completion. The beauty of community spirit in this project is highlighted by the fact the three remaining unfinished panels are being completed in volunteer homes in New Ross, Bunclody and Thomastown, Co Kilkenny. The painstaking and time-consuming needlework is entirely carried out by volunteers who come together in these homes.
The Ros Tapestries illustrate the events of the Anglo-Norman arrival to the South East of Ireland, specifically the founding of the town of New Ross, Co. Wexford by William Marshall and Isabel de Clare. The content for the tapestry panels was exhaustively researched and designed by Ann Bernstorff (The Countess Bernstorff), ranging from the value of cattle under Brehon laws to the Italian bankers who operated in Ros. Her designs are painted to scale for the embroiders to reference while they undertake the painstaking task of replicating the designs on the 6×4 foot panels. The sowing of each panel has been overseen by Alexis Bernstorff who has trained extensively in the area of embroidery and restoration. Her eye for detail ensures the correct colours for the era and that the characters & locations are in keeping with historical context.
The Irish Arts Review described the undertaking as an epic embroidered narrative of the Norman invasion of Ireland. Epic it certainly is, the detail of the panels can only be truly appreciated in person, photos simply cannot capture the layers, depth and colour of the embroidery. Unfortunately our very knowledgeable guide Peter told us that photography is not permitted of the completed panels but I managed to take a few shots of a panel currently in progress below. To view the fifteen panels online visit the Ros Tapestry here.