I made it to County Galway last week, to visit various knit-related sites and speak to people about skill in their industry. The knitting factory on Inis Meáin in the Aran Islands designs, produces and sells high-end, luxury garments that travel all over the world from an island with a population of about 150. It was hugely useful to see the company’s expertise in action, and to talk about some of the similarities and differences with the knit sector in Shetland. Lots to think about!
In Connemara, once big sheep farming country, tourism is now the major industry. The Sheep and Wool Centre in Leenane interprets the history of wool and textile processing for visitors, not far from a dilapidated building that still (just about) reads Wool Stores. On a local sheep farm, visitors can observe operations – essential diversification when the wool sells (for carpets and insulation) at E0.20 a fleece.
In Galway City, the main shopping streets are festooned with Aran-style knitwear of all sorts of provenance, from mass manufactured in China to handmade by named knitters in west Cork, and many points in between.
Back in Shetland to continue researching local producers, I’ve got lots of questions and people to follow up in Donegal and thereabouts in December.