Ros Tapestry Project
The Ros Tapestry Project is a major community arts and history project centered around the town of New Ross in County Wexford, Ireland. The project is dedicated to producing a tapestry in fifteen panels which tells the story of the coming of the Normans to Ireland in the 12th century and the foundation of the port and town of New Ross at the beginning of the 13th century. Each tapestry panel is approximately five feet deep (1.5m) by six feet (1.8m) wide and tells of a unique aspect of the epic story. Four panels have been completed by January 2007 and groups of volunteer stitchers are working on ten other panels.
History of the Project 
The project began in May 1998 with an idea to make a tapestry telling the story of the coming of the Normans to Ireland in tapestry form and to hang this tapestry in the historic St. Mary's Church of Ireland Church in New Ross. The idea originated with the Rector of the Church, Reverend Paul Mooney, who then consulted with Ms. Alexis Bernstorff, an art historian and professional in the field of tapestry and fabric restoration. Over the summer of 1988, Dr. Mooney and Ms. Bernstorff consulted with local artist Ms. Reiltin Murphy to create a visualisation of how the tapestry could be best displayed in the Church of Ireland parish church. At that time the focus of the tapestry widened from the story of the Norman expansion into Ireland in the latter part of the 12th century to include the founding of the port and town of New Ross at the beginning of the 13th century. A provisional list of fifteen themes for tapestry panels was outlined, as well as the measurements for the panels to be hung from the gallery of the late Georgian, early 19th century church. Countess Ann Griffin Bernstorff, professional artist and mother of Alexis Bernstorff, was approached to consider designing the tapestry and offered to paint the cartoons for the fifteen panels. Countess Bernstorff began with some experimental pieces in the Autumn of 1998 and a draft plan for the project was produced and circulated at that time.
In the spring of 1999, a small committee of people began to plan for the project in earnest, and New Ross lawyer Simon Kennedy freely gave of his time and services to draft articles of association for the project and to register the project as a company limited by guarantee without shares. This not-for-profit legal status helped pave the way for applications for grants and for the successful application for status for the project. In 1999 the Select Vestry of St. Mary's Church, New Ross gave its formal approval to the project and this approval was endorsed by Ferns Diocesan Council and the Representative Church Body of the Church of Ireland.
Meanwhile, Countess Bernstorff painted the cartoon for the first tapestry panel which depicted the Hook Lighthouse in the Medieval era. This lighthouse is the oldest continually serving working lighthouse in Europe and was founded by monks in the early Middle Ages as Christianity came into southeast Ireland. This panel was given to a group of volunteer stitchers in Fethard-on-Sea in early 2000, and it was completed over the next three years. Ms. Alexis Bernstorff supervised the training of stitchers and the coordination of the production of the tapestry panel and served in this capacity on all tapestry panels.
From 2000 to 2007, four panels have been produced by the diligent work of the voluntary stitchers. These panels are the Hook Lighthouse produced in Fethard-on-Sea, William Marshall and Isabel de Clare hunting in the Forest around New Ross produced by the Davidstown-Clonroche group, the Gothic Glory panel depicting the building of the original 13th century St. Mary's Church in New Ross produced by the Bawnmore-New Ross group and the Italian Bankers at the Quay in 13th century New Ross port also produced by the Davidstown-Clonroche group. At present there are over 90 voluntary stitchers stitching panels at various locations in County Wexford and at one location in County Kilkenny in Ireland. In many cases people have agreed to let a room of their house be used for up to four or more years as a location for stitching panels.