Donegal Tweed – A Timeless Fashion Classic

IMG_7525

“For over a century, the village of Ardara was at the forefront of the production of handwoven Donegal Tweeds. A building known as “The Mart” was the central marketplace with all the local tweed produced, inspected, stored and sold inside its walls.

Tweed Ardara

Photograph courtesy of Triona Design

However, in the sixties, the arrival of modern machinery decimated the indigenous industry.

A FAMILY TRADITION

A fifth-generation hand weaver, Denis Mulhern, had a strong desire to ensure that the tradition of hand weaving was maintained and preserved.

Ten years after the collapse of the local tweed industry, he started a small bespoke tweed company called “Triona” from the front room of the family home.

In 1992, Denis began to welcome visitors from across the world to showcase first-hand the skills involved in hand weaving.

Triona tweed is made from 100% Irish lambswool. Once woven, it is tailored to produce unique pieces of clothing including coats, jackets and capes.”

http://www.trionadesign.com

Visitor Centre

Stopping off in Ardara recently, I visited Triona Design, for a delightful Artist Date.

I watched in awe, as a weaver painstakingly attached new threads to old, in preparation for a new batch of tweed. An assistant reliably informed me that this task usually takes 6-8 hours!

IMG_7526

Tempting Fashions

The shop is full of enticing tweeds and woollens, coats, capes, jackets, Arran knits, hats…

Photographs courtesy of Triona Designs

So many tempting wardrobe classics. I have added several items to my wish list.

The Weavers Cottage

Since 2017, an exact replica of the thatched cottage that Denis Mulhern grew up in, takes pride of place in a corner of the showroom.

IMG_7533

It brought back many wonderful memories from my own childhood holidays here in Donegal.

Stepping into the main room, I was reminded of my mother’s family home.

IMG_7527

A box bed in the corner was common back then, kept cosy near an open turf fire. In the weavers cottage a spinning wheel complete with carded wool, was waiting patiently to be spun into thread.

In another corner, an old fashioned dresser stood next to a wooden churn.

IMG_7530

I remember my late mother and her brothers and sisters taking turns to churn cream into fresh country butter. It was an energetic weekly task shared by the whole family.

Everyone kept cows and indeed chickens back then, and potatoes, cabbage, lettuce, carrots, onions… were grown organically in the garden.

The Bedroom

Walking into this bedroom, I smiled at five children tucked into a bed, that was end to end with another bed, and next to a wooden cradle complete with baby.

Before I left the cottage, yet more memories flooded my consciousness of hand sewn dresses, made by my mum on her Singer sewing machine.

IMG_7531

She sewed and knitted most of our clothing, a gift that is rarely seen today.

Hope for The Future

However, I hope that the tradition of tweed making in Donegal continues for many generations to come.

You can learn more about Triona Design at http://www.trionadesign.com

 

 

 

47 Comments »

  1. It makes me so happy to learn that these skills are still being used today. Sometimes I wonder if the best of everything is already in past. I guess that is my age showing. My mother had one of those singer sewing machines too and made dresses for my sister and I. She taught me to sew on a similar machine. Another lovely post stirring memories of days gone by, thank you Brigid.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Wow this was so interesting, Brigid. Loved the whole post and so nice to see all the olden type of furniture that was so well kept and the sewing machine and I loved the way you portrayed the Triona too. Beautiful, thanks a trillion for this share.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Thank you for sharing these skills or gifts are a great part of heritage and so happy to see them being maintained. The cloth industry has been a great loss. The production of fine materials is no longer the case. I used to love to visit the mills in England and Scotland did not get to Ireland. Jaeger (Scotland) ladies clothing were sold at reduced prices in the Northern English Mills. Again beautiful fabric and the last mill I knew in Yorkshire was unfortunately bought by MacDonalds what a great loss that was and a detrimental change. Lovely post on memories and days gone by.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Great post, Brigid. It reminds me of the village where I grew up. I am going over there this weekend to visit my dad. I will takes lots of photos and share them later in a post. Thanks for inspiring me.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. The world before machinery was in so many ways more gracious. Not worse–or better–just what it was. It was OK to wear the same clothes over and over. Now, with machinery, it just isn’t.

    Fascinating peak into this time, Brigid.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. This is so interesting Brigid! My grandmother and mother both were/are seamstresses, and I’ve worn many handmade clothes. Unfortunately I didn’t inherit their talent, but I have such an appreciation for all things sewing related. That sewing machine looks exactly like one my Grandma had!

    Liked by 3 people

  7. I loved learning mor about tweet making and. The cottage, Brigid. Who typically slept in the box bed by the fire? My late grandmother had a beautiful Singer very much like the one in the pic. Such a lovely memory. Thanks for sharing your memories and pictures with us. ♥️

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Funny that I never realized that Donegal tweed, a phrase I was very familiar with from literature, came from Donegal! New England had many mills, most of which are long gone. In Maine there is still a blanket mill. I went to buy a bed blanket and was asked “what do you want it for?” Odd question I thought, but answered “to sleep under.” It turns out that some of the blankets are so expensive people just display them. I bought a “second” lovely full sized wool blanket for a song because it wasn’t perfect..

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Artist’s days are a wonderful way to explore an area or city…I’m always touched when I read or hear that the people of today are eager and interested in keeping these precious skills alive (we often watch, Escape To The Country and enjoy the artisanal segments!), thank you for sharing your day with us, Brigid!

    Liked by 2 people

  10. There’s nothing like those tweeds, so beautiful and timeless. There’s also nothing like fresh country butter, which I recently discovered and will never go back to the supermarket products. My mother also made dresses for me my sister when we were kids, something I’ll always appreciate and never forget. I know you must enjoy wonderful memories of yours too. Thank you for this sweet post!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Thank you so much for this beautiful post, Brigid… where the present met the past. ❤️ Your memories are intricately woven into your visit of this tweed company. Triona’s love and care in not only tweed but saving a part of the traditional cottages is to be commended and will become more precious with the years. Now, I hope one or two items from your list of those beautiful and fashionable tweed clothing find their way into your wardrobe. 😀 xx

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s