Well Hello Everybody. Welcome to our first post. Very Exciting. I hope you like it.
Firstly, let us introduce ourselves. We are the official Shannon Irish Design Store online shop. We thought we would have some fun , and share some of the wonderful experiences and sheer adventures that you can have in the Shannon Region – not to mention some of the gorgeous traditional Irish gifts that celebrate our rich heritage. So, if you want to learn more about this wild , rugged and amazingly beautiful part of the world,then pull up chair, grab a cup of tea ( and if you are me a bar of chocolate ) and get ready to be transported to a mystical land.
One of the most popular items we sell – both on the website and in the stores, are the beautiful and stylish Aran Knitwear. So I thought our first post should be about that. My good Friend Clair manages the Bunratty Folk Park Store – now there’s a lady who knows and loves her Aran Sweaters well. Well she loves this one ( so do I ).. This one is a favourite from Carraig Donn.. very stylish and available on the Gift Website Shop. Shannon Irish Design Store Online Shop. But where did Aran’s come from, what is the mystique with this famous knit, that found itself gracing both the Wild Atlantic Way and the Catwalks of Europe and The United States. Well, let me show off here and give you a background. The Aran Sweater ( or as we call it in Ireland Gansai Arann) originated in the Aran Islands – off the west coast of Ireland. Now that my dear reader, is a beautiful place..
|Aran Islands viewed from Galway Bay|
I got the above picture from goggle images, and do you know it took ages for me to chose which one to show you. We are so proud of these beautiful Islands, They are accessible by both small Ferry or small Plane. You can book online for the Ferry and for Air Aran Flights. Many Passengers arriving daily on transatlantic flights into Shannon Airport make the short drive to either Doolin or Galway to catch a ferry to the Aran Islands.
Look at me getting carried away , we are supposed to be talking about the Aran Sweater. So back to that. One of the first things you notice is the Intricate Stitching, well , these stitches are pretty significant. The Honeycomb is to show a hardworking person, the Cable Stitch is pretty significant as its known as the “Fisherman” stitch, thats to protect the Fisherman while at sea, the Diamond is a wish for success and treasure and the Basket is for a “plentiful catch” at sea. I was on Inishmaan during the summer ( one of the Islands, cycled round it , perfect) , anyway, I met an Old Lady on my travels , we stopped for a chat ( she was admiring my youngest daughter’s attempt to speak Irish), anyway, we spoke about the Aran Sweaters, apparently, certain families would have their own stitch, which would help them identify bodies of those lost at sea. A little dark,, however, I would say a fact of life back in the older days when boats were less safe during an atlantic storm.
The Aran Sweaters ( or Jumpers as we call them) have an interesting history. There is a picture in the ancient Book of Kells which many claim is an Aran Jumper , not to mention some of the style of stitching has appeared on many of the stone megaliths round Europe. Now, I love this notion, of a 5th Century Monk sketching a nice warm jumper, not to mention stone age artists using the jumper pattern to etch on stones, but alas, that old enemy of fantasy, LOGIC, comes to the fore. Spoil Sport.
Its most likely that the Aran Sweater was first conceived in the early 1900’s, by a batch of enterprising Aran Island Ladies who wanted to keep their families warm , and perhaps make a few bob as well ( Fair Play to them). The Aran Sweater even appeared On Vogue in the 1940’s (there’s posh) and started to be exported to the USA in the 1950’s. I wonder did those original Entrepreneurial Ladies realise the legacy they had give both to their homeland and to the world.
Here are some more , the earlier Aran’s tended to be Natural or Cream, but as time and fashion progressed, more daring colours started to appear on the Catwalk.
|Carraig Donn Ladies Aran Lumber Jacket|
And of course, lets not leave the Gentlemen out:
|Gents Merino Wool Aran Sweater|
You can grab a piece of Aran History and treat yourself ( not to mention look at more) below, we are so organised, we even have a special section for ladies and Gents. Although, I have to admit, one of the earliest memories I have is snuggling into my Dad’s Cream Aran Sweater ( we were lucky, we had a gifted granny who knitted them).
And of course, we would not leave the little people out:
And if you do get to Bunratty Castle Folk Park don’t forget to visit the Store and say hello to Clair. She would love that.
Thanks for reading this ( at least I hope you are still here).
Till the next Post… Keep Warm and Classy. Orlagh Cassidy, E Commerce Manager for Shannon Heritage Online Gift Shop.