Prizewinning Pin Cushion
Independence Museum Kilmurry aims to show what the ordinary men and women of Ireland, and in particular in our area, did for our country in very challenging and difficult times. We tell this story predominantly through objects that have local provenance. However we also have some artefacts of national or even international importance in the museum, indeed we would think that all of our collection informs the story of Ireland’s struggle for Independence.
Although our main focus as a museum is to house items to do with the key period covering the Rising, the War of Independence and the Civil War, our origin as a museum was to detail also the archaeology of the area as well the local people and folklore.
So how does a 125 year old pincushion, albeit a prize-winning one, fulfil these aims?
This needlework pincushion won 1st prize in its category at the World Fair in Chicago in 1893 and was made by Patrick Coughlan of Prescott Ontario, Canada.
Patrick’s mother Mary O’ Sullivan was from Leachneill, Crookstown. She had emigrated from Ireland to Canada sometime after the Famine and would later marry a Mr. Coughlan there. It is believed that although securing a ticket for a seat at the official consecration of St Mary’s Roman Catholic Church, Kilmurry to be held on the 1st of June 1861 she was not able to attend having sadly emigrated before then.
The World’s Columbian Exposition also known as the Chicago World’s Fair and Chicago Columbian Exposition was a world’s fair held in Chicago in 1893 to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s arrival in the New World in 1492. The exposition itself was a resounding success on all levels you could think of. The only apparent exception to this being that it lost money; though a healthy return on an attraction introduced there (for the first time anywhere — the Ferris wheel ) saved the fair from bankruptcy.
It was a major social and cultural event that had a profound effect on the future of architecture, modern city planning, sanitation, the arts, Chicago’s self-image and American industrial confidence heading into the 20th Century. The exposition covered some 690 acres featuring nearly 200 new (but necessarily temporary) buildings of mostly neoclassical architecture, canals and lagoons, and people and cultures from 46 countries. More than 27 million people attended the exposition during its six-month run.
So there you have it!
A pincushion linking a woman, forced to emigrate from her native Crookstown, with a major historical international event.