This is a photo of my great-grandmother (on my mother's side), Martha Wallace. This is her in her garden at Ballyfrenis, “flowering” for an Ayrshire embroidery company. Like many women in the Ards, she worked for an agent in Donaghadee who in turn sold her work to companies in Scotland. She married around 1910, died on 20 April 1954 and was buried at Ballycopeland graveyard on the north side of Millisle. She and her husband, Vincent Hamill, had nine children – she taught all four of her daughters how to “flower” too. The last surviving daughter, Agnes, died at Ballyfrenis just a few weeks ago, aged 91 – this photo was found among her personal effects which older folk in the family are now working through.

(A famous account from 1843 calculated that in Ards, Castlereagh and Belfast, up to 16,000 women were employed by Glasgow companies – “…?nearly the whole of the work sent from�Glasgow to London and other parts of England is�produced in this district. It is bleached in Scotland,�and sold as “Scotch work”…).

Martha Wallace Flowering LR.jpg


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