Florence Vere O'Brien. Florence Vere O'Brien née Arnold, founder of "Clare Embroidery". Florence started the first Clare Embroidery class at Newhall, near Ennis, in 1895. The establishment of the class was a response to the plight of families who found it hard to make ends meet. 12 to 15 girls came regularly for two hours weekly. When they became proficient they took away work to do in their own homes. In 1898 the Vere O’Brien family moved to Ballyalla House and the Clare Embroidery class continued there with some of the Newhall girls still attending, but now joined by a new group of local girls.
Mina Keppie. Mina Keppie was the manageress of Clare Embroidery and dealt with all the correspondence with customers. She was a Scotswoman from Dumfries and had come to the Vere O’Brien family as a lady’s maid and to help with the children. She came at the age of 21, having worked for a couple of years in northern France. She was still with the Vere O’Brien family when she died, aged 96.
"Clare Embroidery" Frock. Detail of smocking and embroidery on a child's frock. Cut-out flower centres reveal the lining of the yoke. The frocks were usually finished with a scalloped collar, but this sample has a crochet edging.
"Clare Embroidery" Frock. Detail of scalloping on a hem typical of "Clare Embroidery" work. In this case the scalloped edges are themselves scalloped. The edging is buttonholed and then excess fabric is cut away.