Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Fred & Betty Alderman at Giant's Causeway, Ireland

Fred & Betty Alderman at Giant’s Causeway, Ireland

Are your Irish eyes smilin’?

I’ve never been to Ireland. Have you? Perhaps someday I will go.

I have included a picture of my mom and dad in Ireland. They were visiting friends there and in this picture they were visiting Giant’s Causeway on the Atlantic Ocean. I love the picture in that they look happy and healthy and my dad has his ever-present camera. My father documented the world through a camera. And my mom loved to travel and would have seen the beauty in Ireland in all its artistic splendor.

The picture has special meaning to me. One reason is I think it was the last big trip they ever took. They were there in September of 2001. Yes. That September. They were due to fly home on September 11th and were grounded in Ireland and couldn’t make it home for a while. As with everyone else that day, I was horrified, scared and tearful. My cousin who was living in NYC at the time was unaccounted for for many, many hours (she was later safe but in a somewhat tattered state for having had to walk home for many hours) and my parents were stranded overseas. But what came from that Ireland trip was the kindness and love shown my parents at that time by the Irish people, something they never forgot.  So, thank you, Ireland!

The way my mind works, one thought always leads to another which leads to another and another. I was looking online for an Irish quilt block to make as I was thinking about Ireland. Well, that led me to wonder about Irish quilts. In my search I found a couple of web sites that I thought might interest you. The first one is the blog for the Modern Quilt Guild of Ireland. It’s found here: http://modernquiltguildireland.blogspot.com/. I’ll try to put it up on our blog too, as a blog we follow. When the blog states what it is to be a modern quilter, it says in part, “Modern quilting has its roots in rebellion [I love this statement the best], in our desire to do something different, but simultaneously its feet are firmly planted in the field of tradition.  Modern quilting is our response to what has come before.  We are quilters first, modern quilters second.”

Are you a “modern quilter?”

The second place I happened upon was this super article about Irish patchwork quilts. Since I am an amateur historian, fabric fiend and quilt lover (new and old) this article appealed to me on many levels. I hope it appeals to you, too. The article is titled, “Early Irish Patchwork Quilts and Traditions,” by Roselind Shaw at


Because of the way this article was presented on the web I contacted Roselind Shaw to see if I had her permission to link to it (she kindly said yes). We had a nice “electronic” conversation and agreed that the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum had some great stuff (see link below). I told you my thought process skips around a bit…

In Roselind’s article she speaks of a Grandmother Millar. The museum shows a picture of a woman named Annie Millar who was one of the quiltmakers who had a quilt in the museum. I asked Roselind if this may have been a relative of hers but she said she was not.

Below is a picture from the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum found at https://www.nmni.com/uftm/Collections/Textiles—Costume/Crazy-Patchwork.  I strongly encourage a visit there, either in person or via the internet.

My favorite quilt in these pictures is the velvet star quilt. I can’t imagine making it. How hard would that be to get all those points made in velvet! Have any of you worked in velvet? I would love to hear what you have to say about it.

Here’s Annie Millar’s quilt.

A hand-pieced velvet star mosaic quilt made by Annie Millar and found at the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum in Ireland, circa 1890

A hand-pieced velvet star mosaic quilt made by Annie Millar and found at the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum in Ireland, circa 1890

Well – eat corned beef and drink green beer today and celebrate the Irish and have a very, very happy St. Patrick’s Day.  — Betsy


2 thoughts on “Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

  1. Love your story about your Mom and Dad. I have an Irish background through my Mom’s side of the family, but it’s very far back. My husband and I went to Ireland in the late 70’s. Happened to be during St. Patrick’s Day week. Saw the parade in Dublin. I loved the country, which is truly “green”, the people, their soups (creamy), and their desserts (creamy). Everything made with real cream delivered to the door every morning. The only hand-made things I remember seeing were fantastic knitted wool sweaters. I’ll have to check out the websites you posted. Thanks for the post, Betsy!


  2. Karen – you’re welcome! I’m so glad the post hit a chord with you. My husband and I have been to Scotland and England but didn’t make it to Ireland or Wales – next trip, I hope. If you like what Roselind wrote, she also said she wrote the Irish chapter in a U.S. publication called, QUILTS AROUND THE WORLD by Spike Gillespie . I hope to check it out but if you do find it and read it – let me know how it was.

    About the Irish people, Roselind also said, “The Irish are renowned for being thoughtful and kind to visitors but they can’t live with each other which is such a pity they are too strong willed.” 🙂 Enjoy your day. – Betsy


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s