Researching Linen History & its Design Story at PRONI (Public Records Office, Northern Ireland)

Activity: Talk or presentationInvited talk


Dr Catherine O’Hara, Belfast School of Art (Ulster University) ,will be discussing research into the history of the linen industry in the 20th century, focussing specially on the design features of making linen, a subject of study which has suffered undue neglect. Dr O’Hara reviews resources drawn upon at PRONI that can help us better to understand the role and status of design in a fabled industry and setting in context the value of archival sources.

"The linen trade was Ulster’s once premier industry with illustrious history and outstanding scholarship. Much of the literature has concentrated on the economic, political and social contributions the industry made. These histories tell important stories about the significance of the industry but also serve to highlight gaps in our linen knowledge especially around its creative production. After flax production and before linen weaving, proto- industrialization or otherwise, takes place, design and designing is undertaken. This fundamental stage at the start of the textile process is all too often overlooked. My research focuses on design for industry and this paper, reviews the range of resources I have drawn upon at PRONI that can help us better understand design in this fabled industry."

Period19 Oct 2023
Event titlePRONI: Talks
Event typeOther
Degree of RecognitionNational


  • Irish Linen
  • Old Bleach Linen Company
  • Linen history
  • Linen Biennale Collaboration
  • Design for industry