Knitwear, Tapestry and Weaving
the mid-1700s sheep rearing and the associated domestic industries of weaving
and knitting have been an important part of Gleann Cholm Cille's economy.
As in other isolated areas, thse industries provided an additional income to
many families without which they would have been forced to emigrate. To this
day, local tweed and knitwear have an international reputation and many people
are employed in knitting and weaving industries.
Donegal's Timeless Beauty Reflected in Magnificent Tapestries
by Billy Bennett
Donegal's proud tradition of weaving and spinning is today uniquely expressed
in the magnificent tapestry art of a small group of weavers in south-west Donegal.
Nestled in the rugged hills overlooking the wild Atlantic, Taipéis Gael
art captures the imagery and symbolism of Donegal's landscape and history in
a special way. Since 1993, eight artists have lived the Taipéis Gael
dream and delighted a national and international audience with their wonderful
Joint funding from the EU's Horizon programme and Údarás na
Gaeltachta allowed an initial group of six people undertake a two-year training
program which included learning the traditional skills of spinning and natural
dyeing from older people in the area.
Weaving, which together with fishing was once the mainstay of the local economy,
has been revitalized through the medium of tapestry art by the inspirational
artists at Taipéis Gael.
Hundreds of their artworks have found
new homes all over the world and thousands of devotees have learned the traditional
skills through workshops and courses at Taipéis Gael.
Máire McGinley from Glencolmcille, one of the original group of
six apprentice weavers, speaks with passion about her work. “My
inspiration stems from the landscapes and seascapes of West Donegal. I am
particularly moved by the fantastic natural colour contrasts all around me
which I feel give my work a further dimension.”
The artists use naturally dyed and handspun local yarns to develop tapestries
that are expressive of this beautiful region. Inspiration is not hard to
come by with the majestic Atlantic and Rathlin O Beirne island - there is
a timeless beauty about this delightful setting. The area around Glencolmcille
is also steeped in a wonderful archaeological heritage of megalithic tombs,
standing stones, dolmens and forts.
Weaving Tapestry in Rural Ireland - Taipéis
Gael, Donegal by Meghan Nuttall Sayres.
Book lauched 2006 at Oideas Gael, available through Siopa Gaeilge. (www.siopagaeilge.ie
This book explores Taipéis Gael's mission to contribute to cultural
preservation in the Gaeltacht, the Trish-speaking areas of Western Ireland.
Special features within this book include informative captions for all illustrations,
dye recipes and poems relative to weaving (in English and Rish) as recalled
by the mentors. Some poems are interpreted in tapestry.
"Not only has Sayres captured the spirit of the collective voices
and imagery of the Taipéis Gael weavers, she and photographer Laurence
Boland have created a feast of words and images so rich that I could smell
the sod, stroke the sheep, and hear the weavers' voices as they wove the
legacy of their land and their lives." Marilyn Murphy, President,
Interweave Press, Loveland, Colorado.
"In this beautifully wrought chronicle, Meghan Nuttall Sayres has
drawn from the past to celebrate the present and future of Taipéis
Gael, a tapestry weaving collective of international reputaiton in Donegal,
Ireland. This group of dedicated artists has created a body of work whose
compelling imagery, both pictorial and abstract, evokes a powerful sense
of their ancient land - a land of rock and of sea, of wool and of natural
dyes, of textiles past and of textiles yet to be created. Sayres has woven
tapestries, photographs and the very words of the people themselves into
a visual and narrative feast from which I could hardly bear to emerge." Sarah
Swett, tapestry weaver and author of Kids Weaving.
Its Irish – Its Donegal Tweed Wool – Its blended with Nepps
in contrasting colours that give the Donegal Tweed Look. It’s modern
in style and design, It’s long-lasting and warm, It’s individually
knitted for you.
In 1984 the McNelis family established Rossan Knitwear Ltd, incorporating
Glencolmcille Woollen Mill. This family owned and operated business in
the Malinmore Valley of Glencolmcille, Co. Donegal had its beginning
difficult times when emigration from Glencolmcille, and, indeed, from many
parts of Ireland, was the only option for many young people.
Having a long tradition in handcrafts, the business survived through the
production and marketing of hand knitted sweaters and accessories. As
the home and overseas markets developed domestic knitting looms were
produce the knitwear.
"We feel proud of our achievements over the last 26 years. Skills
have been developed and today we continue to manufacture high quality knitwear
the markets both at home and abroad.
We also feel proud that we have been able to live and work in this
inspirational part of Ireland, in an area rich in archaeological
sites, and area of
awesome mountain, lake and moorland landscape and with a spectacular
To all who come to the Visitor Centre
and Shop… .to purchase
an item or merely browse or just to have a rest and enjoy a cup of tea or
we assure you of a traditional welcome. Cead Mile Failte."
For more information feel free to contact:
Rossan Knitwear, Glencolmcille Woollen Mill, Malin More Valley, Glencolmcille,
County Donegal, Ireland
Telephone: 074 97 30069 – Fax: 074 97 30183
Telephone: International 00 353 74 97 30069