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niamh dempsey

Irish weaver


Born and raised in Offaly in the Irisdh midlands, I studied Graphic Design in the National College of Art and Design, Dublin. After graduating I went on to further studies in pattern-drafting and dressmaking. I am also a keen and skilled Irish Crochet Lacemaker and general crafter. 

While researching Irish costume for my studies, I came across numerous intriguing references to the Irish crios. I became determined to find someone who still practiced this age-old skill and would teach me how to make one. I soon discovered that crios-making was on the decline - like many traditional crafts in Ireland, but I was lucky enough to find a textile teacher to show me the art. Also in my research I discovered that the Crios was the traditional handfasting cord of Celtic wedding custom.

This encouraged me to make my own handfasting cord for our wedding in 2009, which really demonstrated to me the beauty and significance of the handfasting ceremony firsthand. The crios itself was much admired on the day and I was delighted when the celebrant asked me to make handfasting cords for other couples, and thus my new calling was born. I now produce handfasting cords for couples all over the world which gives me great satisfaction and pleasure. My husband,  himself a trained artist, is a great support, helping with the design and management aspects of the enterprise which has grown steadily over the years. He runs our sister site, Embracing Cords, where we produce a more contemporary take on the crios, with some unique new developments in handfasting cords designs.

In early 2018, we moved to Portugal from Ireland and are loving this exciting new chapter in our lives. My ethos for 'Embracing Union' to only use Irish-sourced wool continues as I get all my wool supplies shipped from Ireland. Many of my customers are delighted to have that little bit of Ireland in their ceremony! I am honored to contribute to keeping this heritage craft alive and relevant in the modern age.

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