FOR 153 years, it held pride of place over the fireplace at the Lane family home in Newcastle West, surviving damp, decay and two wars. Now, a tapestry stitched in 1869 by a thirteen-year-old Catherine Galvin is to be shared with the rest of the world on specially-crafted Christmas cards.
The tapestry, which depicts the letters of the alphabet in various different colours and fonts, was recently discovered by Templeglantine man Liam Downes in the ancestral home of his friends, the Lane family, on South Quay, Newcastle West.
Liam, who makes and sells bundles of Christmas cards each year, instantly recognised its rare beauty. â€œItâ€™s been a family heirloom for generations. They have it framed above the mantle, pride of place in the house. It has no monetary value, but itâ€™s priceless to themâ€.
The tapestry is woven out of what was likely an old sack cloth and is dated March 1 1869 by the young Catherine, who was a student at Templeglantine national school at the time. She kept the work as a keepsake, and after marrying Thomas Wright, a native of nearby Gortnagloss, she brought it with her to their new home on South Quay.
Mr and Mrs Lane opened a small green grocers downstairs, which the family kept open right until the 1980s. Over the past 153 years, the framed tapestry has been saved from decay and deterioration inside a fitted frame.
The present generation of the Lane family came into possession of the tapestry in 2009 when their mother passed away.
Mr Downes said that after noticing the tapestry, he asked the familyâ€™s permission to have it professionally photographed by local photographer, Eddie Guiry, and feature as the centrepiece of his 2012 Christmas card collection.
The cards will go on sale in local shops in the Templeglantine area from this weekend, costing â‚¬6 for a pack of five.
Mr Downes said that as well as the tapestry, the four other cards feature images of the local church in Templeglantine, the Great Southern Trail and the Templeglantine parish hall. A portion of the proceeds will go towards the Templeglantine community council.