We drove to Glencolmcille for a tour of the Folk Village, which depicts Irish life and culture from the 1700s to the 1900s and is also known for its fiddlers. Glencolmcille is in the far reaches of the northwest corner of Ireland and has spectacular scenery. Margaret Cunningham took us around the cottages, filling us in on the history of the town and Folk Village, while pointing out interesting details in the cottages.
Our tour guide, Margaret, is also a tapestry weaver who was hired by the Folk Village to learn the art of this type of weaving using a needle rather than a shuttle. She shared her work with us, although most of it has been sold. Much like Suzie Sullivan, the felt artist, Margaret’s work is inspired by Irish tales and the scenery around her.
Margaret brought three bags with a variety of patterns.
We spent the afternoon at Studio Donegal . It is a small woollen mill on The Wild Atlantic Way with its own carding, spinning, hand weaving and garment making. Tristan Donaghy manages the business, which “currently employs fifteen people, and is trading successfully whilst staying true to its core value of hand weaving all its tweed. Everything with the Studio Donegal label is hand woven and made in the mill in Kilcar, County Donegal.” Tristan Donaghy gave us a tour of the mill. We were all impressed with the time he took away from his work to share the history of the mill and how the entire weaving process occurs.
The most impressive machine to me was the condenser. Tristan fed mounds of colorful wool “fluff” into the back of the machine. As the fluff was drawn through it was ground into even smaller bits, with the colors mixing.
At the end of the tour, Tristan took us to the second floor where two weavers were working.
Last step–garment construction.