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A Tale Told in Thread - The Ros Tapestry

Invasions, battles, romance - centuries of history brought to life in 15 huge embroidered panels telling the epic story of the founding of New Ross, Co. Wexford in 1207.

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Documentary maker: Sarah Blake

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A Tale Told in Thread - The Ros Tapestry

The Ros Tapestry is a major community arts and history project, depicting the events around the Anglo-Norman arrival in the South East of Ireland, specifically the founding of the town of New Ross, Co. Wexford in 1207 by William Marshal, a famous Knights Templar, and his wife, heiress Isabel de Clare.

By the end of the 13th century, New Ross had become one of the ten highest grossing ports in terms of customs in Ireland and Britain, exporting grain, wool, cattle hides and timber. During this period, it was heavily integrated into the wider European economy, with Italian bankers playing a large role in setting up the town and establishing it as an important international trade centre.

This epic tale has been brought to life in the Ros Tapestry through detailed designs by artist Ann Griffin Bernstorff, who researched the historical events, customs, dress, and folklore that provide the substance for the series of fifteen panels. Her daughter Alexis, a textile specialist, has been supervising the 150 volunteer embroiderers involved in the project which has been underway since 1998.

The teams of embroiderers, mainly women, gather in homes and public spaces throughout the county of Wexford and nearby Kilkenny every week. The hours of stitching fit into the lives of the people who farm, nurse, teach and look after their families amongst other professions.

In ‘A Tale Told in Thread’, we weave through the past and present, following the embroiderers as they work on this extraordinarily ambitious project, which is now almost at completion. Historians Donnchadh O’Ceallachain of the Waterford Medieval Museum, and Dr. Linda Doran of UCD explore the forgotten importance of New Ross and its Norman origins.

First Broadcast at 2pm on Saturday 8th June.

Narrated by Sarah Blake and Barry Barnes
Produced by Sarah Blake
Sound Supervision by Mark Dwyer

The Ros Tapestry is currently on exhibition on The Quay, New Ross (opposite the JFK statue) Monday to Saturday from 10am to 5pm. Closed Sundays. Admission rates apply.

For further information see
Tel: 051 445396

Ros Tapestry Blog -

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