For many years as a child, we went on our summer holidays to Donegal. My sister and I were attending an Irish primary school in Dublin City Centre (Marlborough Street) and my dad was keen on getting us up to hear Irish being spoken naturally. We had great times up there and working up the courage to ask for a Mars Bar in Irish was all part of growing up. We never quite got to see Donegal in sunshine (the heavens always opened once we got near Lifford) but I still swoon when I hear a Donegal accent even though I’m happily married 🙂 I do believe that the wild landscape of Donegal where sea and mountains meet is invigorating for the soul and its beauty is simply unparalleled.
I’m incredibly lucky to stock my work up in Ardara in Donegal with Triona Design and their sister company Irish House in Donegal Town. On my most recent visit to drop up some pieces, I was blown away by a project Triona Design had undertaken to build a thatched cottage inside their tweed visitor centre that was fully furnished as it would have been when the owner of the company was a boy. The attention to detail was incredible and I knew that my son and daughter would really enjoy counting the amount of heads in the beds (see picture below)!
Triona Design is an award-winning tweed manufacturer. They produce beautiful tweeds and contemporary tailored clothing – I’ve an order in for a sea-blue/green cape for the autumn (can’t wait for it to come, the colour is amazing). Large looms are regularly used at the centre to demonstrate how their tweed is made. Oisín my youngest was close to jumping the counter to try his hand at it but he was fascinated by the cottage and the number of people that would have lived in such a small dwelling in Ireland not that long ago. He honestly couldn’t believe it.
The cottage is the exact replica of the old-style tweed cottage the owner of Triona Design lived in growing up in Ardara in Donegal. It’s so quaint but my God there were a lot of heads in the bed! 13 to be exact according to Emily and Oisin.
Triona Design prides itself on keeping the tradition of handweaving alive while also supporting many other Irish craftsmen and craftswomen (like me!). But I think the effort they put into this project shows how they are also keeping alive the memory of their first-hand experience of a more humble and often forgotten time in Ireland not that long ago. It’s definitely worth a visit if you are exploring the raw beauty of Donegal………