Pomp and Poverty

A History of Silk in Ireland

Mairead Dunlevy

View Inside Price: $65.00


May 31, 2011
280 pages, 7 1/2 x 10 1/4'
25 b/w + 135 color illus.
ISBN: 9780300170412
Cloth

Lustrous, warm, lightweight, strong, silk has always been a symbol of wealth and status, beginning in prehistoric China. In Pomp and Poverty: A History of Silk in Ireland, Mairead Dunlevy unfolds a colourful tale. She introduces us to the merchants or 'silk men' who traded in silk, oversaw its production and invested in machinery and design; the weavers and dyers who created luxury under exploitative conditions for miserable wages; the gentlefolk and aristocracy who indulged in this expensive fabric as a signifier of wealth and taste. Irish legend credits 17th century French Huguenots with introducing the industry, but this book reveals that silk was woven in Ireland long before that, possibly from the tenth century. Dunlevy also details the development of poplin, a uniquely Irish silk product found in every royal court of 19th century Europe.

The late Mairead Dunlevy was Keeper of Art and Industry at the National Museum of Ireland, Dublin, and Director of the Hunt Museum, Limerick. She was the author of Dress in Ireland, and an authority on social customs in Ireland and on Irish glass and silver.

“Pomp And Poverty will, I believe be regarded as the definitive work on this subject, and can be strongly recommended, both to the specialist student and the general reading public. It records in a most accessible way the history of silk in Ireland.”—John J O’Connell, Irish Arts Review

“an impressive and exhaustive study”—Kirsty Blake Knox, Irish Sunday Times

“This beautifully produced book, the author’s last, is a fitting memorial to someone who brought research into aspects of Ireland’s rich historic past to a wider public….It is a book that all textile and clothing enthusiasts should aim to possess.”—Naomi Tarrant, Costume

"So gracefully written that it will appeal to both scholarly specialists and a wider audience, and so aesthetically appealing that it might be mistaken at first glance for a coffee-table book, Pomp and Poverty is both exhaustively researched and highly readable. It must now be counted as the authoritative survey of the Irish silk trade."—Kevin J. James, Textile History