The Ros Tapestry Lovers

Michelle Obama Views  Ros Tapestry Panel at Farmleigh May 2011



The Ros Tapestry Project was initiated by a few subscribers, on Reverent Mooney’s suggestion. It was decided to produce fifteen panels representing the historical arrival of the Normans in Ireland in 1169, and the establishment of the town of New Ross. The group were fortunate to have the two key members: Ann Bernstorff, a well known artist, and Alexis Bernstorff, a specialist of ancient textiles and embroideries, educated for five years at London University and trained in London and at the renowned Gobelin factory in Paris. Moreover, Ann decided to start historical research in order to describe with exactitude the scenes and personalities she would represent in the painted cartoons. She became a specialist of Norman History and, up to now, she is often invited to give talks at different Conferences.


Fifteen panels were painted. More than twelve panels found sponsors, and rose approximately € 200,000. In the mean time, Alexis found up to 150 embroiderers. She taught the voluntary embroiderers the embroidery techniques and started to supervise the embroidery of the 15 panels in different locations around New Ross. With such expert guidance and with the painted cartoons as models, and fourteen years of extensive work, twelve of these panels have now, in 2014, been completed.


The subscribers of the Ros Tapestry Project adopted a Memorandum and Acts of the Company. That Memorandum specifies that the Project be concerned essentially with the realisation of the 15 panels devoted to the arrival of Normans in the New Ross region. A Board comprising fewer than ten Directors were in charge of the management of the Project. They are expected to be elected at an Annual General Meeting (AGM) by members, who in principle should total 50 members.



The paper “Ann Bernstorff's Ros Tapestry”, has been published in Irish Arts, autumn 2005“. A complete description and analysis of the Tapestry is presented.


The relevant chairman at the time negotiated personally a 20 years lease with Tottenham landlord of Priory Court on the Quay at New Ross. That lease imposed a rent of:

  • € 32,500/year the first year plus € 6,975 services
  • € 52,500/year the second year plus € 6,975 services
  • € 72,500/year the third year plus € 6,975 services
  • € 87,500/year the fourth year plus € 6,975 services

Moreover, in the event of a certain level of visitors is achieved a fee of one € per visitor was required to be added to the rent. Consequently, a rent of about € 100,000/year was rapidly imposed on the Ros Tapestry.

If well-known European tourist guides mention the ship as a destination in Ireland, no descriptions are available in any of these books for the Ros Tapestry, which is known to be among the most impressive artistic works in Ireland. Tourists and visitors extensively use these books. The lack of efficient advertising could explain why the Tapestry exhibition at Priory Court obtained less than € 40,000 for visitors income.

Article on the Ros Tapestry in « Piecework Magazine », Interweave Press. 2008


During the first year the town of New Ross accepted to pay the rent. However, the Town Council refused to pay the rent the following years. The Town Council decided to sponsor only the Dunbrody ship, at a rate € 350,000 and, later, several millions, for the arrangement of the Quay in front of the ship. This is infinitely higher than the needs of the R.T. Exhibition. Therefore, it becomes apparent that with only the visitors’ contribution in receipt, under the lease conditions of the time, the Committee did not have the possibility to meet the lease requirements.

Ann Bernstorff has been invited to give a talk about the Ros Tapestry and his historical context, at the National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin, in November.

Ann Bernstorff has been invited to the International Conference: held at the University of Rouen organized by Professor Nicole Terrien, in December, to give a talk about the Ros Tapestry.


The chairman resigned and announced his substitute. Ann Bernstorff proposed to introduce a well-known historian, specialist of medieval times on the Board of the Directors. That proposal was rejected. 

Besides the previous question of the payment of the rent of Priory Court, Ann Bernstorff proposed to add to the Museum an exhibition devoted to the History of Normans in Ireland. She had also planned to organize historical conferences, and to transform the actual exhibition area into a Cultural Centre. These suggestions were strengthened by the fact that, in Ireland, no Norman Museum and no Centre of this type were in existence, in spite of their importance in Irish History and Culture. For these developments she thought that the actual building of Priory Court was not suitable (and too costly). A very large building (Bank of Ireland) was proposed on the Quay front, which could satisfy all the different requirements. The proposed annual rent, 30,000 euros, was also extremely convenient. But these projects were again rejected.

Ann Bernstorff has ben invited to give a talk at the Princess Grace Irish Library in Monaco, November 10th.


In one year, March 2011-April 2012, five new members were co-opted by the Board. Four of them had never participated in the Project. They have also no particular qualification for the given task. Their appointment was not ratified by an election at an AGM as specified in the Memorandum of the Ros Tapestry association.


The Board continuously rejected all suggestions proposed by Ann Bernstorff. Since the Board, at different occasions, refused to consider her copyright, which is recognized by the Irish Law, the artist began a discussion with the Committee about Intellectual Property. However, the Board of Directors continue to deny the artist’s Intellectual Property Rights.

Her situation became so difficult that she was led to resign as a Director. But obviously, she considered herself always as a member of the Association, since she was the key person of the Ros Tapestry Project, with Alexis Bernstorff, for the last 14 years. 

At the beginning of the year, Alexis Bernstorff, who, worked for three years on a voluntary basis, without the support of the Wexford Local Development (WLD), asked to become a Director.  The Board refused. But again, that decision was not taken at an AGM by means of an election as written in the Memorandum of the Ros Tapestry Project.

On October 5th the Board decided, without an AGM meeting, to modify, by amendment, the Memorandum of the Ros Tapestry Project. The text was published with the consequence that the artists Ann Bernstorff and Alexis Bernstorff, responsible for the artistic achievements of the Ros Tapestry, are not even accepted as members of the Association. Finally, a modified Memorandum was adopted without the required AGM meeting, and specifies that to be a member of the Ros Tapestry Association, it is necessary to be accepted by this Board. The embroiderers, members of the “ARTE” Association, also asked several times to be members of the Ros Tapestry Association. But, to date, they have not been accepted.


New developments occurred in the recent months. The prestige of the Ros Tapestry and its reputation, was due also to the multiple Conferences presented by Ann Bernstorff, in Ireland and in other European countries, and their participation in press articles, radio talks and television programs.  The Tapestry was chosen by the State to be exhibited for three months at Farmleigh, the Residential Palace, during the Presidency of the European Community. At the end of March, the Board took the opportunity during the final days of the exhibition, to organize a meeting, inviting all Embassies in Dublin, Irish Officials and the Prime Minister. At this launch the Board announced that, to the 15 panels describing the arrival of strong Norman soldiers in Ireland, a new panel representing two half naked women, with Eiffel towers for earrings would be added. This addition to the artistic and historical work of an unexpected and unrelated document, without any prior discussion with and agreement from the artist who possesses the copyright of her work, is evidently in contradiction with Irish Law. Moreover, during that meeting and in the advertising documents, the logo and images of the Ros Tapestry created by Ann Bernstorff were used to promote this new and unrelated panel.

Furthermore, a second meeting was organized in May at Dublin, at the American Embassy, to present a seventeenth panel again unrelated to the Ros Tapestry, devoted now to John F. Kennedy. Again without taking into account the copyright legislation.

After the exhibition of the Ros Tapestry at Farmleigh, the State has decided to send several Tapestries at the European Center at Brussel, for several days.

With the iniative of Ann Bernstorff and invitation of the Office Public Work, O.P.W. organizes the exhibition of the Ros Tapestry Cartoons in Tintern Abbay. This is the historical place were Normans and William Marshall were arriving in Ireland in 1200. Moreover, a full day Conference has been organized August 1st by the O.P.W. The title was From William Marshall to Lucy Colclough. It was introduced by the famous historian, Nicky Furlong, and Ann Bernstorff gave a talk about her Ros Tapestry Cartoons. The program of the Conference is given in the “News” pages.

Unfortunately, these different events have also to be considered with the financial situation. 

All efforts to maintain the exhibition of the Ros Tapestry at Priory Court, New Ross, couldn’t succeed. The negotiated lease was too costly in spite of the € 200,000 obtained from generous sponsors. All funds and sponsorships are spent. Moreover, investments were made for the improvement of the Priory Court building for the benefit of Tottenham, e.g. a large oak wood floor. In the end, the Board was obliged to quit that building this year. The exhibition has now to be presented in another building of the Quay, but much less suitable than Priory Court, since the panels are exhibited in a narrow corridor. What a pity considering the most important recent artistic exhibition in Ireland! All previous investments in the building are lost, especially the beautiful large oak wood floor in Priory Court.

Recent news from the National Irish Television was known. Ann Bernstorff was asked to be interviewed for a National TV program to give more publicity for the Tapestry. But the Board refused to grant permission to the Television crew to enter the exhibition area. Moreover, through a letter, the Board was even considering that the artist, creator of the Ros Tapestry cartoons, has to obtain a permission of the Board to speak about her cartoons and the corresponding Norman History she has deeply studied….

In December, since the question of the Intellectual Property and Copyright of Ann Bernstorff has not been accepted by the Board of Directors, she has started a legal proceedings.


An article about the Ros Tapestry has been published, January 14th, in the “Echo of Wexford”. It mentioned the legal proceedings, but the interviewed actual chairman of the Company had refused again to accept the copyright of Ann Bernstorff on her Ros Tapestry creation.

These are a selection of well-established facts. The readers have now the possibility to make their own conclusions.

All your comments will be important and useful.
They will be published in the website which is devoted to the large number of people in Ireland, in Europe, and probably in other continents who love the Ros Tapestry.



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