About us

Fís na Muingi-Iorras, a voluntary community group came together in late 2005 to preserve the important heritage of the Congested Districts Board’s Lace Industry in Erris. Údarás na Gaeltachta, owners of the former Muings lace School Centre were approached with the object of securing a lease on the premises for the creation of an interpretative centre with Lace Museum.

  • In October 2006 The Erris leader Company funded a feasibility study, undertaken by North West Consulting, Sligo, and the study was recently updated in 2008.
  • In 2007, Údarás na Gaeltachta offered the committee a commercial lease, subject to certain conditions being met.
  • In September 2007 Fís na Muingi-Iorras formalised its status to a Company Limited by Guarantee. An application for charitable status is underway.
  • Our architect Mark Stephens drew up plans for the development of the Muings premises and submitted them to Mayo County Council. Full planning permission was granted in August 2009.

Fís na Muingi-Iorras has been active in the community and rekindled public awareness of the heritage of the Irish Crochet Lace Industry in Erris. Information days are held regularly. The response to the committee’s endeavours was overwhelming. Long forgotten lace made by previous generations, documents and photos were retrieved from attics and the backs of cupboards; letters, photos and documents started arriving from Erris émigrés. The committee built on this response through a series of exhibitions and sponsored fundraising events, attracting up to 400 attendees from many parts of Ireland and overseas, as well as curators and academics. The media gave enormous support to the project and continue to do so. Talks and demonstrations are given to adult education courses

A considerable body of desk and field research has been undertaken. Committee members have familiarised themselves with relevant Heritage centres and Museums, at home and abroad. Our Website www.laceschool.com has brought to the attention of a Global audience of Lace enthusiasts, Fibre art/craft groups, Irish interest groups including online Press, Genealogy researchers.
Helen Moreau is Secretary of Fis na Muingi-Iorras, she grew up in Dublin. Whilst undertaking a genealogical study of her maternal ancestors, Helen became increasingly conscious of the need to place them in the context of their landscape and the prevailing conditions of their times. Such family information as she had was limited to that provided by a late uncle, some scrappy anecdotal material and her own memories from childhood holidays, spent on her grandfather’s farm. The old people were long gone and with them went most of the old ways and folk memories. Word got around about Helen’s research and descendants of past Erris émigrés, mainly from the US, as well as local people began calling on her for information about their ancestors. 
Data for events such as births, deaths, marriages, emigration and ship manifests, when they could be sourced, were often fraught with frustrating discrepancies; in any event they were invariably as dry and dusty as their provenances. Due to the ravages of history, past poverty and massive emigration much has been lost.  In context, there is currently little in Erris that speaks for or of our forebears, Helen’s ideas for the development of the Muings lace school project evolved from this barrenness.

She is passionately dedicated to the objectives of the project and works diligently to promote them. She sees the celebration of the lives of the generations of women and girls who worked for the Lace schools of Erris as the project’s central theme. Her aunts were assistant teachers at Muings.

Mary-Kate Coyle, joint treasurer, is from Erris and worked at the Muings lace school. She is involved in fundraising and is determined that the Muings Lace school’s place is firmly in our community as a folk museum/ heritage centre, and is working very hard towards achieving that end.

Mary Togher, joint treasurer and active fundraiser is also from Erris and worked at the Muings Lace school for a number of years. Mary is the third generation of her family to have worked for Muings lace school; she absolutely believes that Muings Lace school must be saved for the Erris community.

John Healy is a local business man, he is very active in the community; he assists with fundraising. He is dedicated to the success of the project and sees its great potential for the community at large.

Father Seán Noone is Ships Chaplain and author of ‘Where the Sun Sets’, an account of Erris and its townlands.

Eamonn Padden ‘Erris man of the Year’ 2004, is a well known Hotelier and property developer.