On my recent trip home to Ireland, I paid a visit to the Avoca Handweavers Mill in Avoca, Co. Wicklow. I have vague memories of visiting it as a child and was keen to visit again.
These days, the Avoca name is better known as a lifestyle brand, with a very popular chain of shops and restaurants. It’s origins however are as a weaving mill, Ireland’s oldest in fact, as proudly proclaimed in the photo above!
Most of the weaving today is done on power looms and there are only two remaining handweavers employed. You can read a little more about the history of the mill and the company on their website.
The weaving rooms are open to the public and you are free to explore to your heart’s content. There are information signs to guide you and explain the various processes.
At entrance there’s a small museum type space with memorabilia and a few antiques along with a short video documentary running on a loop.
The memory that stayed with me from childhood was the smell, and it’s still there. That lovely sheepy, wooly smell of lanolin and spinning oil!
We chatted briefly to the two handweavers who told us that demand for the blankets is still high in both the traditional Irish loving markets of Germany and the US along with the emerging Japanese market. The Japanese love their aran jumpers!
I have to confess that I was so busy snapping away, that I neglected to read all the info signs! However, as far as I know, these lovely, stringy, complex contraptions are used to line up and wind the wool onto the giant spools for the weft threads.
If you’re ever in that neck of the woods, do pop in.