1. Women's friendships are central to The Lace Makers of Glenmara. Discuss the shifting alliances, confidences, and conflicts among Bernie, Kate, Aileen, Oona, Moira, and Colleen. Who is a good friend? Why?
2. Lace making has a major role in the novel. What role does the craft take in the women's lives? How does it shape them? Change them?
3. Many small towns experience a tension between the modern world and tradition values. How does this dynamic affect Glenmara?
4. What are the characters' attitudes toward faith and religion? How is Catholicism treated in the novel?
5. To what extent is Father Byrne a villain? Is it possible to sympathize with the motivations and feelings behind his actions?
6. How does Kate's personal history affect her life and the choices she makes in Glenmara?
7. Sibling relationships can be difficult. Discuss what binds Aileen and Moira together, and what drives them apart. How does their relationship change over the course of the novel?
8. What is at the root of the conflicts between Aileen and her daughter, Rosheen? Do they see each other differently by the end of the book? Why?
9. The Lace Makers of Glenmara has a rich cast of minor characters. How do they contribute to the texture of the novel?
10. A spectrum of romantic relationships are portrayed in the book. What keeps Moira in her marriage? What strains and joys are present in the other women's relationships? Who has the best marriage?
11. Who is the happiest character in the novel? The most discontented? Why?
12. What do you imagine happens next between Kate and Sullivan?