Foxford Woollen Mills

3485220-001The minions and I paid a visit to the Foxford Woollen Mills recently. While I visited on a school jaunt many moons ago, I wanted to take a tour of the visitor centre and see the mills in action.

Many a childhood night was spent under a signature scratchy cream and blue striped Foxford blanket, or if I was lucky, the pink trimmed one, summer picnic forays were consumed on the red tartan rug and when I got married, it was a plaid Blackwatch rug that kept us warm in the back of the black vintage Ford Consul. The Foxford blanket, the pinnacle of Mayo chic, the quintessential wedding present was to be found in many, if not most, Irish households of my youth and a renaissance of late, has again placed them among the luxury items on wedding inventories. Irish Designers, including Helen McAlinden, have rejuvenated the brand through modern contemporary design that appeals to natives and tourists alike. The Foxford brand, considered a heritage brand, has modernized and rejuvenated to keep au courant and viable in these austere times.

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One of the last working mills in Ireland, the Foxford Woollen Mills was founded by the Irish Sisters of Charity in 1892. Mother Agnes Morrogh-Bernard was the driving force behind the Mill in its infancy, with assistance from Congested District Board and a considerable loan. Harnessing the power of the river Moy and with the labour and dedication of the local people, the mill thrived until 1908, when the building burnt to the ground. A considerable setback, but again the mill thrived and employed up to two hundred people at its peak.

In the latter part of the twentieth century, the textile industry in Ireland imploded and the Foxford Mills were not invulnerable to this collapse, going into receivership in 1987. The Mills celebrated its centenary in 1992 with opening of the visitor centre, where you can take a very interesting self-guided tour voiced by the silken tones of renowned Mayo actor Mick Lally. A million euro investment in 2007 completed the mill’s rejuvenation.

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So the minions and I spent an enjoyable hour in the visitor centre. History buffs in the making, they were fascinated by the interactive exhibits but were particularly enthralled with the factory models. While we have visited the shop and cafe frequently, this was the first time they saw the tour but have spent many a minute with their noses pressed against the glass of the weaving room door, fascinated with the machinery and weaving process. They were delighted to get onto the factory floor and view the noisy contraptions up close. At only ten euro for a family ticket, I highly recommended it.

Of course the trip must be rounded off with a treat in the cafe upstairs! Apologies for the poor quality photos, one of these days I’ll remember to bring my camera.


World Wide Knit in Public Day 2014


World wide Knit in public day starts tomorrow and continues until June 22nd. So grab you needles and take it public. Join in This is Knit’s scavenger hunt or meet with like minded knitters in Longford  or Waterford or even in Midleton, Co. Cork. Happy knitting folks!

What events are taking place near you?


Féile na Tuaithe

feile na tuaitheIt’s back! After a three year absence, the renowned two day family festival returns to Turlough House in the grounds of the National Museum of Ireland – Country Life, Turlough, County Mayo on Saturday 24 & Sunday 25 May 2014. And it’s free! With many events for all the family including children’s activities, craft and textile demonstrations, bird watching and beekeeping, working dogs, art, film and music, it isn’t summer without it! Read the full brochure here. You wont go hungry either as there will be a dedicated artisan food and bakery area too


Markree Wool Craft

While visiting friends up Sligo way some weeks back, we made a detour to Markree Castle just outside Collooney on the road to Dromahair. Markree CastleIn the grounds of this historic castle Mary Cooper, of Markree Wool Craft raises, shears, spins and dyes fleece from her flock of Wensleydale sheep and fleeces sourced locally from nearby farmers.  Continue reading



The Sheep and Wool Centre spin and dye small samples of Galway, Connemara Blackface and Texel fleece on their premises in Leenane.  All yarn is dyed using natural ingredients and set using salt or alum and heat. Natural dyes have been used for centuries in Ireland.Initially plants, lichens, berries and shellfish were commonly used before other dyes like indigo, logwood and brazilwood were readily imported. Sméara DubhaThe yarn in my Sméara Dubha mittens came from a blend of Connemara Blackface and Texel fleece, dyed with blackberries and young gorse flowers.  Continue reading


The Sheep and Wool Centre, Leenane

While holidaying with the extended clan in Connemara back in July, we made an emergency pit-stop at the Sheep and Wool Centre. Intrigued by the museum and plagued by requests to see the sheep dog demonstrations, we returned on Wednesday last.

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