5 Crafts on the Wild Atlantic Way
Posted by Andrea Hetzer on the 29th of May 2014 at 14:09:11
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Ireland is famous for its ancient history and folklore. But even for Ireland the Wild Atlantic Way is exceptional with its traditions that are unique to this untamed area. Maintaining a strong sense of the Irish language and culture there could be no better place to find the authentic Ireland! Especially the traditional crafts are still very prominent on the wild west coast of Ireland and play a huge part in creating this culture. Reason enough to have a look at them!
Thomas Dillon's Claddagh Gold, County Galway
There is no better place to learn about the world-known Claddagh Ring than at Thomas Dillon’s Claddagh Gold. Holder of the original license to create Claddagh
Rings they are certainly the specialist in this field. On top of that they are also the oldest jeweller’s shop in Ireland. You really cannot go more authentic than that! The building which is home to the normal store, where you can find an abundant selection of Claddagh Rings in all colours and sizes but also other Celtic themed pieces of jewellery, is also home to a small museum about this extraordinary ring. You can even learn how to properly wear it here since every position has a different meaning. The heart facing outwards means you are still on the market where as the heart facing inwards shows that you are taken. A very smart and time-saving idea if you ask me…
Donegal Tweed, County Donegal
Donegal Tweed is a famous hand-woven tweed that has been produced for centuries in the name-giving county. Acclaimed for its unique colour, beauty and quality it is internationally sought after by world-known fashion brands like Armani or Burberry. After the industry declined rapidly in the 70’s Tweed it is now making its comeback. Forgotten are the days of bulky Tweed suits, modern Tweed clothing are tailor-made and the fabric can be used for any piece of clothing. While there are a number of different tweed fabrics produced like check patterns and herringbone, Donegal
Tweed is most famous for its plain-weave heather look which is even fittingly named “Donegal”. Traditionally people would create the colours with the natural ingredients of their surrounding environment. Yellow gorse, Moos, Orange lichen, Red Fuchsia and Blackberries were used to dye the fabric known for its warmth and durability. Quality Tweed is still not cheap, but people swear that it will last you a lifetime, so you want a piece of clothing that will stick with you forever Donegal Tweed might be just for you!
Aran Island Sweater, County Galway
A popular souvenir these classic wool garments, also known as Fisherman Sweaters, have long been a trademark of the Aran Island. Many myths rank about them, but most of them are just for tourists. The cute little legend that says that every clan had their own knitting pattern to identify family members? Charming, but sadly false. However Aran Island
Sweaters are indeed rich in symbolism and the patterns do have a meaning. Cable stitches for example represent fishing ropes and the Zig Zag Stitch represents the twisting cliff paths on the islands. Originally the knitwear would have been made with undyed unsourced wool that still contained natural oil called lanolin, making the sweater water-resistant. Nowadays Aran Island Sweaters are available in different colours, with many different patterns to choose from and fortunately processed wool so you will not smell like a wet sheep when it's raining. If you still want an original hand-knitted sweater plan to spend €200 and upwards. Or get the wool and try your luck on your own Aran Island Sweater!
Louis Mulcahy Pottery, Dingle, County Kerry
Throw a pot in Clothar at the Dingle Peninsula
in County Kerry. Home to the workshop of the award winning Louis Mulcahy visitors can learn more about this ancient craft, shop for the best gift and even try it out on their own. There is an open room where a professional potter can be seen doing his daily work. Feel free to ask any questions you might have at the home of the first Irish craftsman ever to receive an honorary degree from the National University of Ireland in recognition of his artistry. The potter can also give valuable advice when you try throwing a simple shape by yourself. You can then take your own pottery home with you or have it fired, glazed and delivered to you for a small fee. It is a very nice activity for young and old and I enjoyed it greatly when I tried it out.
Spiddal Craft and Design Studios, County Galway
Ceardlann means “must stop” in Irish and there could not be a more fitting name for this little gem of Irish Crafts. An Ceardlann Craft and Design Studios is home to 10 artisans that are all designing, creating and also selling their goods on site. Located spectacularly at the entrance of Spiddal Village, next to the beach and overlooking the beautiful Galway Bay with the Cliffs of Moher
and the Aran Island in the distance, it is understandable where the artists get their inspiration from. Basket Weaving, Pottery and Jewellery Making are just a few of the things that are offered here. If you stop over and you really should if you are looking for some unique souvenirs you should go to the Builín Blasta Café as well. The homemade dishes and delicious desserts will make your mouth water, promised.
Many more hidden gems and local artisan shops are waiting for you on Ireland’s new scenic drive. Whatever you are looking for you will be able to find it on the 2500 km of stunning landscape, friendly locals and amazing culture that is the Wild Atlantic Way.
A lot of our tours feature the Wild Atlantic Way. Have a look at them here! Or get a quote to create your perfect Wild Atlantic Way Route.