Once known as the Manchester of Ireland, Mountmellick in Co. Laois is a town of fine buildings and the home of a uniquely Irish textile art, Mountmellick Work.
This white-on-white embroidery technique was invented in the early 1800s by Johanna Carter who set up a small school in Mountmellick to train women in the craft. The foundation of the town was laid by members of the Society of Friends, also known as Quakers. Businesses included a tannery, along with malting, brewing, spinning and weaving enterprises. By the mid-1700s, Mountmellick was a leading centre of textile production in Ireland.
Mountmellick experienced a boom in 1836, with the opening of the Mountmellick branch of the Grand Canal, linking the town with markets throughout Ireland and beyond. The rich architectural heritage of Mountmellick tells the story of the town’s growth – the oldest surviving dwelling is John Pim’s house on Harbour Street, built in 1686.