35 imagesDonegal is synonymous of moving landscapes of bog and skies that never stop where clouds, water and land can not be split. It is the best kept secret of Ireland, with his Gaelic culture, folk music and lighthouses perched on cliffs sharp as knives, but it’s most celebrated heritage is the handwoven Donegal Tweed, a rough woolen cloth featuring mixed flecked colors, famous in the world along with the Scottish Harris Tweed. The only real difference between the two is the design, with Donegal featuring a more standard and universal design compared to its Harris Tweed counterpart. The fundamental characteristic of Donegal Tweed is its woolen construction with a mixed flecked design. What makes special this high-end tweed, is its unique quality and colors inspired by the dramatic beauty of the Atlantic, the changeable sky, the wilderness and the flora and fauna of the nearby hills and mountains. The process of making it is unlike any other because here the artisans have been perfecting the craft of producing tweed for centuries using local materials available in their surroundings to produce high-end caps, suits, vests. Donegal is known for its moderate climate that supports local sheep, blackberries, fuchsia, whins and moss. Using these resources, artisans created some of the world’s highest quality tweed and towards the end of the eighteenth century The Royal Linen Manufacturers of Ulster distributed approximately six thousand flax wheels for spinning wool and sixty looms for weaving to various Donegal homesteads. For over a century the villages of Ardara and the nearby Kilkar were at the forefront of the production of handwoven Donegal Tweeds and local farmers supplemented their income by hand weaving tweed from the rough homespun woollen yarn, which had been spun by the women from the indigenous blackface sheep. However, in the sixties of the last century the arrival of modern machinery decimated the indigenous industry and with long-term government neglect of the industry and poorly targeted international promotion, this once flourishing industry has dwindled to few authentic manufacturers. Today the last weawers, young women like Cindy Grahamor seasoned weawers like Eddie Doherty, struggle with courage and determination to preserve this unique tradition of hand weaving also because the international market for luxury Irish heritage products is an international success story. Donegal is promoted by Irish Tourist Board as the the coolest place on earth, so the weawers are right when they say, "When you buy a yard of Donegal tweed, it's not just a yard, it's a lot of Irish history you're buying.
129 imagesThe northernmost and wildest Ireland. A moving landscape of bog and skies that never stop, where clouds, water and land can not be split. The best kept secret of Ireland, with his Gaelic culture, folk music, lighthouses perched on cliffs sharp as knives, kings without a kingdom and islanders toughest than the granite of their islands. The Donegal begins after the old castle of the O'Donnell chieftains in the town of Donegal, and after Killibeg, the fishing harbour of a country of farmers and shepherds. The fish is still there but the fishermen have become owners of B&B and the true Donegal begins few kilometers north, with the breathtaking cliffs of Slieve League, the highest of Europe. In the village of Kilcar the latest weavers still weave the traditional tweed. The World’s End here begins at the end of each strip of land but another lighthouse and another promontory are caught farther north, where the Gaelic past materialises from the sliding fog above a field of yellow flowers with the dark stone of Grianan Ailigh ring fort. The last lighthouse is Malin Head, the northernmost tip of Ireland, but the real Irish World’s End world is Tory island, a Island-myth where Gaelic language is still spoken by the two hundred souls living there, with a hundred sheep, often isolated by storms of the rugged Tory Sound. In 1974 the Irish authorities, after the island had been cut off for two months, proposed to the inhabitants to move to the near mainland, but many remained on the island. Every evening in the People's Pub His Majesty Patsy Rodgers, Patsaí Dan Mac Ruaidhri for his subjects, plays a wild accordeon. It is the last chieftain of Ireland, heir of those who, when not engaged in bloody feuds between clans, resolved long-standing disputes over pasture and miserable inheritances. Patsy, one of the best known painters of the island, every morning materializes on the pier with his accordion, waiting for everybody coming with the small ferry from Bunbeg. Storms and windy sea, but in the island the only thing that never fails is the Guinness, along with the time to talk, especially when the lighthouse’s yellow light glides over the dark expanse of the bog.