I was lucky enough this fall to visit Ireland for the third time in three years, and especially to spend a significant amount of time in Donegal. I’m very drawn to this region, in part because of its rich weaving history, but as a New Englander, the cheery self-reliance of the people despite a sometimes unforgiving landscape feels very familiar. While I was there, I was fortunate to spend some good hours with a few of the wonderful weavers and craftspeople keeping the tradition of Donegal weaving alive and, importantly, living. I was impressed in both the fiber crafts and in the traditional music to find a wonderful harmony between the traditions and a growing, thriving, creative force rooted very much in the present. This is truly how traditions survive and don’t just become museum pieces.
Some of the lovely folks I visited, who are all very welcoming to visitors (including live demonstrations if your timing is good) and have beautiful products for sale:
- Studio Donegal and Donegal Yarns in Kilcar
- Clare O’Presco in Donegal Town
- Cyndi Graham on St. John’s Point off Killybegs
- Eddie Doherty in Ardara
- John Molloy’s of Ardara
- The Ardara Men’s Shed – they even let me try a loom! (Which was nice considering my poor coordination…)
Once you see how beautiful – and varied! – their work is, you’ll understand how my trip inspired me to finally break down and buy a floor loom… stay tuned for my next post!