Handmade Stitched Children’s Irish Dancing Dress With Matching Cape, 1970’s ?

This green dress was put up for sale on an internet platform in 2020. It was originally found in a box of dolls and other old toys ranging from the 1930’s to 1970’s. The seller had bought the things in December 2018 from someone who does house clearances and that box came from an attic in Bangor in Northern Ireland. That’s all the information I could gather so far.

It would be interesting to know what the purpose had been of the dress. Was it in a box of dolls because it was used as a toy by children, to dress up fancily and play theatre games? Or was it in the box because they were all old belongings from a daughter someone wanted to keep as a memory? Was that dress made for fun, or was it made for a child to go up on stage and perform? Was it used in Festival Dancing, since the box was found in Northern Ireland? Perhaps someone recognizes the dress and would be able to offer more information.

The embroidery shows shapes I’m not familiar with and is a different type of embroidery I’ve so far encountered. Most of the stitches are chain stitches made in red, white and purple. Embroideries are on the front of the dress (chest and lower skirt) and on three corners of the cape.

The fourth corner has some extra fabric for the attachment of the cape. The cape is a nearly perfect square and the back seems to be of a light gold fabric. There seems to be a small loop on the back of the right waist of the dress – probably for the extra fabric. I wonder how exactly the cape would have been attached to the dress – I assume a brooch must have been used for the top part.

There are some age related marks on the dress. Pleats on the skirt start from the side of the front, increasing at the back which is full of them.

The cuffs and collar have crocheted lace and it seems to have the same rose and shamrock design on the neck that had been used on Siobhan O’Mahony’s dress, made by her grandmother Margaret Denton Clark (read more about her here) who originally came from Carrickmacross – located some 78 miles from Bangor. The neck lace does not go all around the neck and it is safe to assume that the reason for that was that the cape was being attached over that shoulder and would cover or even damage the lace. It would have been regarded as a waste of money to finish up the whole neck.

Dress Length: 34”

Cape: 36” x 33”

S.S.K. Marbach, 2020

Photo Credit:

  • All photographs with kind courtesy of Gary


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