Sampler by Honoria Carmody, 1854.

Cotton fabric, wool threads, 480mm x 310mm.

This sampler was worked at one of the National Schools established in Ireland in the mid-nineteenth century to provide state funded primary education. The style and standard of this sampler is very similar to many of our English school examples. The sampler incorporates the alphabet and number sequences, some very impressive spot motifs and border patterns, and the signature and date of the sewer. The absence of any Celtic features is significant. The school system was a leading force in the Anglicisation process that led to the rapid decline of Irish language and culture in this period. Just below the centre of the sampler is a biblical verse from St Matthew’s Gospel: What doth it profit man to gain the whole world if he lose his own soul. This might be contrasted with the Irish proverb: Tír gan teanga, tír gan anam. A nation without a language is a nation without a soul.

Honoria Carmody worked her sampler at school in Listowel, County Kerry, Ireland in 1854. In 1862 she emigrated to Otago on the Silistria, leaving from Glasgow like so many Irish migrants bound for New Zealand. There was a huge demand for domestic servants in Otago at that time and desperate employers snapped up new arrivals as soon as the immigrant ships landed. Honoria quickly found work at Green Island. Otago was also awash with young bachelors, however, as the gold rushes had tipped the gender balance out of kilter. Not surprisingly Honoria was married within the year. Her husband, Thomas Quill, was also from County Kerry, and she may even have followed him to the colony. They settled in Roslyn where Honoria died in 1911 aged 71. Her daughter, Mrs Gillies, donated the sampler to the Museum in 1931.
Honoria Carmody
Production Date
Sampler 440x285mm
Mount 540x420mm