Finding Purpose in Recreating the Past #29 #cong22


A project whose purpose was to invoke the past by creating authentic costumes to be worn in the present during events celebrating the continuity of St Nicholas church in Galway life.

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Key Takeaways:

  1. Great sense of purpose can be found in working together and sharing skills
  2. The past and present may be linked in places and clothing.
  3. There is joy to be found in creativity.
  4. There isn’t an App for the things most worthwhile.

About Deirdre Ni Gearlailt

My name is Deirdre and I am married to Seamus. We have 4 children and two grandchildren, with another grandchild on the way. I work as a doctor in general practice and child development. My passions are my family, travelling, cooking bodhran playing and handcrafts.

Contacting Deirdre Ni Gearlailt

You can contact Deirdre by email

By Deirdre Ni Gearlailt

This is a story about a project that fostered a sense of purpose in a community, forging deep connections with the past and present.


St Nicholas church, which has been used alternately by Catholics and church of Ireland in Galway is now 703 yrs old.

A time for celebration – delayed by 3 years because of the pandemic.

4 years ago I visited a friend’s house and admired the many rich luxuriant fabrics hanging in her sewing room.

Silks,embroidered fabrics and wools.

So when I asked her what was the destiny , I found myself enrolled in a most exciting project.

The idea was to re create a medieval scene to evoke times past in at St. Nicholas church.

Building Purpose

The costumes whose designs were inspired by a medieval seamstress book with applique patterns included dresses, jackets aprons, hoods, purses and belts – both leather and woven.

The dresses have the designs from the city Tribes family crests.

A diverse group of men and women Catholic, protestant, Irish, English, American and African to form the work group.

Our little community met in the church and our purpose was to dress people who wear the costumes at fetes and when showing the church to visitors.

We are now labelling the costumes with carefully embroidered labels with silver thread embellishments.

Included in the labels of was the wearer’s name, the Tribe after whom the dress was designed and the year it was made.

The seamstress’s name was not included on the label as it was felt, like the illuminated texts of Kells a community created them and while all these details would be noted in a leather bound book for posterity it would not be mentioned in the label.

I have totally enjoyed this community with a purpose and listened to many stories of the people around the work benches.

I hope to have some of the items to show the congregation as examples of the work.

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