The appeal of embroidery has always been its beguiling attention to detail. This is at the heart of the Ros Tapestry. Over 180 volunteer stitchers, have gathered over the past 25 years in numerous venues, throughout County Wexford and further afield, to interpret the 15 works by acclaimed artist Ann Bernstoff.

These skilful embroiderers sit at a long frame and patiently stitch the landscape details of distant hills, rippling water and rough foregrounds using French and bullion knots, satin and chain stitch. Folds of dress fabric are done in couching, carefully adapted to effect the complicated pleats, while smooth long and short stitches bringing faces to life.

Groups of stitchers were established throughout County Wexford and Kilkenny. These included Bawnmore/New Ross, Bunclody, Clonroche, Crossabeg, Duncannon, Ferns, Inistioge/Thomastown, Poulfur, Wexford and Kilkenny City. Volunteer embroiderers, many of them experienced needlewomen, or stitchers , began work, practising and honing their skills.

Many venues were made available to the stitchers. Sometimes it was a centre in the community such as Poulfur Parochial House and St Mary’s Hall, Fethard, sometimes a public space like Duncannon Fort and Wexford Heritage Park. Private homes were offered as well as Grennan Mill Craft School and Johnstown Castle. The last panel is currently being stitched in Rothe House, Kilkenny and is open for public viewing. The panels were always worked on as close to the area depicted in them as possible.


Find out more about the craft

It is agreed amongst the stitchers to describe the style of embroidery as needle painting. The needle and thread are applied with the same intention as the painter – to create a liveliness of expression. Originally overseen by its creative director Alexis Bernstorff and expert stitchers Jean Barry and Mariin Dunne, and laterally Rosa Ronan and Kay Dolan, the process involves the study of the cartoon, analysing of shape and movement, choosing of the right shade of woollen thread and the consideration of the type of stitch, its direction and size. Over 500 needles have been used – the points do get blunt as they stab through the Jacobean linen twill fabric which was chosen due to its empathy with the woollen thread and its durability.

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