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  • The Ultimate Guide to the Aran Sweater

    Ever wondered where Aran sweaters came from, or what makes an Aran authentic? This Ultimate Guide to the Aran Sweater answers plenty of common questions - from Irish origin to modern care instructions.

    Origin of the Aran sweater

    The Aran sweater - geansai in Irish - takes its name from the Aran Islands just off the rugged west coast of Ireland. These three islands, Inis Mor, Inis Meain, and Inis Oirr, are known for prehistoric celtic civilisations and the preservation of traditional Irish ways of life. People from these islands have traditionally worked as fishermen and farmers, which demands extreme exposure to the elements. No one knows exactly when the first Aran sweater was knit, but we do know it was knit on these islands to shield people from the wild Atlantic weather.

    Sheeps wool was the first-choice to make these sweaters as the wool was readily available, its oils were water-wicking, and if it could keep the sheep warm, it could do the same for fishermen. What makes the Aran sweater unique, however, are the beautiful and intricate stitches that have been passed down for generations. In fact, the Arans special design actually originated to help keep people warm. Layers and layers of wool woven in different patterns help trap your bodys natural warmth and block cold wind from reaching your skin. Due to the sweaters popularity among fishermen and farmers, they were also sold on the island, which helped provide a living for some families

    Aran patterns and meanings

    Each of the beautiful patterns of the Aran sweater have unique meanings attached. These stitches have been passed down for generations and make Aran sweaters special and unique to Ireland.

    Honeycomb
    the honeycomb stitch represents the hardworking bee and the rewards for honest work

    Diamond
    the diamond stitch mirrors the shape of fishing nets and is said to bring wealth, success, and treasure

    Basket
    the basket stitch is based on the fishermans basket, and brings hope of prosperity

    Trellis
    the trellis stitch resembles the stone walls and enclosed fields that stretch all across the islands

    Plaited Braid
    the plaited braid symbolises the many interweaving strands of life

    Zig Zag
    the zig zag represents marriage, two paths moving together, through the ups and downs, to make life worthwhile

    Blackberry
    the blackberry stitch represents a close connection to nature and possibly religious connections

    What is merino wool?

    While Aran sweaters were originally made with lambswool native to Ireland, most Aran sweaters today are made with merino wool, which is known for its exceptional softness, breathability, and warmth. It comes from the Merino sheep, originally native to southwestern Spain, which now live all over the world in countries like New Zealand and Australia. It is likely that merino wool has been present in Ireland since the height of Spains sheep trade in the 16th century. Merino wool eventually became the preferred fibre for making Aran sweaters because its just as durable as regular lambswool, but substantially softer. As a natural fibre, merino wool is water-wicking - meaning it sheds moisture and odors and keeps you dry in whatever climate youre in. These features have made it popular for outdoor sports and activities as well as daily wear.

    Hand-knit vs machine-knit

    Theres a debate in the Aran sweater world over whether you should opt for a handknit or a machine-knit sweater. Weve made a list of the benefits of either choice for you to make up your mind.

    Pros of Hand-knit:

    • Warmth. Hand-knit Aran sweaters are without a doubt the warmest option. Because human hands arent as strong as machines, they cant pull the wool as tight. This means that hand-knit sweaters require more wool to make. The greater amount of wool makes hand-knit sweaters significantly heavier than machine-knits, and thus warmer.
    • Heritage. If youre looking for a really authentic Aran sweater, you may want to choose a hand-knit to honour the heritage and tradition of hand-knitting in Ireland.
    • Stitching. Hand-knit sweaters still outperform machine-knits in the types of stitches they contain. For example, you can tell an Aran sweater was hand-knit if it features the blackberry stitch, which machines can't produce.

    Pros of Machine-knit

    • Options. There are significantly more machine-knit styles of Aran sweaters available. After all, manufacturing has soared in Ireland for the past several decades. While hand-knit sweaters typically come in a handful of styles and 3-4 colour options, machine-knit Aran sweaters come in hundreds of different style and colour combinations. Its easy to find a flattering cut and colour for everybody this way, and adds a touch of freshness to your wardrobe while retaining the traditional Aran elements.
    • Affordability. Due to the reduced time it takes to make each sweater, machine-knit Arans are much more affordable than hand-knit sweaters. The price difference not only accounts for the modern turn in the Aran sweater industry, but also makes it more feasible to own multiple Aran sweaters and keep up with the latest styles.

    Aran sweaters are an investment either way. Hand-knit or machine-knit, if you care for them properly, they will last you a lifetime. Besides, if youre having trouble deciding, why not treat yourself to one of each?

    What to look for when shopping for an Aran Sweater

    First and foremost, you want to make sure that the sweater is actually made in Ireland. Some of our favourite Aran sweaters are made in Donegal, Dublin, and Kildare. In short, were committed to representing Irish brands and manufacturers in our stores. Next, you want to be sure that your sweater is 100% natural fibres. Nearly all of our sweaters are 100% wool, with the exception of cashmere and cashmere-wool blends for extra softness and luxury.

    If you have sensitive skin, you should look for super-soft merino wool. Its still 100% merino, but the wool comes from the first time the sheep was ever shorn, making it even softer and finer to the touch. Check out our range of super-soft merino sweaters here.

    How to care for an Aran sweater

    We recommend the time-tested method of hand-washing in cool water and laying flat to dry. Place your sweater in a clean sink filled with cool water and a gentle or wool-specific detergent. Make sure your sweater to submerge your sweater, but be careful not to agitate it too much, as this will cause the wool to become matted over time. We suggest leaving your sweater for around 30 minutes, and then rinsing it for a few minutes to ensure all the detergent has been removed. After rinsing, remove your sweater. You can then either place it immediately onto a flat drying rack or press gently between two towels to absorb some extra water before you lay it flat to dry. Your sweater will feel very heavy and wet at first, but dont worry, it will dry.

    Remember: Aran sweaters are naturally water-wicking. This means that if your sweater has started to retain odors, you can simply air it out to clean it. While your sweater is dry, hang it near a fan or open window on a wooden or felt hanger for a day and youll be surprised to find it smelling fresh and ready to wear again.

  • Insiders Guide to St Patricks Day

    Photo courtesy of Giuseppe Milo

    St Patrick's Day

    ...also known as the best holiday in Ireland! St Patrick's Day - affectionately shortened to "Paddy's" - brings the entire world together to celebrate Ireland's patron saint. It takes just one look at the Chicago River dyed green, the Sydney Opera House shamrock lights display, or Dublin's famous parade to see how the national holiday has become a cornerstone of Irish identity both here and abroad. That said, there's really nothing quite like spending St Patrick's Day in Ireland. If you're lucky enough to be here, consider this guide from an insider for navigating the nation-wide celebration. At the end of the day, you'll be thankful for some great photos and lasting memories.

    The *Essential* Full Irish Breakfast

    Honestly if you don't start your day with a full Irish, are you even celebrating? This traditional bombshell of a breakfast consists of bacon, sausages, fried eggs, grilled tomatoes, mushrooms, baked beans, fried potatoes, black and white pudding, soda bread, and strong tea. Plenty of restaurants will serve a full Irish on Paddy's Day, but it's a good idea to make a reservation if you're a party of 4 or more.

    We know that food is central to cultural heritage, so really you're honouring Irish culture on a deeper level if (when) you grab another helping of fried potatoes. Not only are you enjoying a traditional Irish meal, you're also preparing yourself for a big day of events. So strap yourself in for one of the most gratifying carbo-loads of your life. And, if you're really keen on getting the party started, this may be the one day a year that no one will judge you for a pint of Guinness with brekkie.

    Image courtesy of Giuseppe Milo

    Dublin's St Patrick's Day Parade

    We love a good parade, and this is absolutely a good parade. Dublin goes all-out with floats, balloons, dancers, marching bands, acrobats, musicians, and more. It's a whimsical, exciting experience for both children and adults. Try to arrive around an hour early to find a premium spot to stand. Finally, to fit in, you're going to want to wear green - and a lot of it.

    Your little ones will love the bright green and stay warm while they watch the parade

    Donning bright green has become basically synonymous with St Patrick's Day celebrations all over the world. In fact, it's proven that the more you commit to the green, the more fun you'll have! We'd recommend finding weather-appropriate green apparel, as springtime in Ireland can still be relatively chilly.

    Try a coordinated set for a look that's festive and wearable with anything.

    The parade lasts just under 2 hours, which leaves you with plenty of time to check out other events in the St Patrick's Festival, or start a pub crawl with your friends.

    Image courtesy of Rudy and Peter Skitterians

    Paddy's Day Pubs

    Did you know that the worldwide consumption of Guinness more than doubles on St Patrick's Day? It's safe to say there won't be an empty pub on the island of Ireland come March 17th. If you're looking for a seat or a table, you'll probably find a bit of a wait in the city centre. That said, it's common for pubs to overflow into the streets, and this is part of the fun, energetic atmosphere that St Patrick's Day is known for. If you need a drink recommendation, both Guinness stout and Bulmers cider are national treasures and will be enjoyed by visitors and locals alike during the holiday.

    Transportation on and around St Patrick's Day

    There are two main types of public transportation in Dublin and two for getting across the island. In Dublin, you can opt for either Dublin Bus or the Luas. Bus fares increase by the number of stops you take, and can run from 1 to 3 each way. If you don't have a Leap Card, you'll need to pay with coins (exact fare is best as change isn't offered). Bus routes are advantageous because they go further out from the city and run until around 11:00 pm, after which a limited night bus service begins. The Luas is relatively new an a bit faster than the bus. There are two lines - red and green - that connect the city centre. You can buy paper tickets from machines at Luas stops, but they usually cost more than a bus fare. The Luas runs until 12:30 am except on Sundays and public holidays when it stops at 11:30pm.

    To travel to other cities, you can take a coach bus or train. CityLink is a popular choice for bus as it runs from Dublin to Cork and to Galway around every half hour. The train may provide a more comfortable and speedy ride, but requires more planning as it runs less frequently than the many bus options.

    Image courtesy of Ruby Doan

    Venture to Ireland's other cities to celebrate

    If you have time, do this! Loads of people flock to Dublin for St Patrick's Day celebrations, but cities like Cork and Galway are becoming more and more popular destinations for the creative festivals they hold. As Ireland's second largest city, Cork's St Patrick's Day parade is extremely popular. It features performances by thousands of dancers and musicians, and is known for being particularly kid-friendly. Similarly, Galway brings its alternative artistic flair to its St Patrick's Day celebrations. The city puts on a community-oriented parade and has previously screened famous Irish movies to bring people together. It also boasts a lively pub scene for after-hours.

    Come for the craic, stay for the culture

    St Patrick's Day is tons of fun, but it's also a meaningful holiday for bringing people together and keeping the Irish diaspora connected to Ireland and what it means to be Irish. While there's plenty of craic (Irish for "fun") to be had, St Patrick's Day also reminds us of the importance of keeping our heritage and culture alive. Check out the National Museum collection or this article for more on the history of the holiday and how Irish people brought St Patrick's Day celebrations around the world.

  • 8 Tips for travelling to Ireland for the first time

    "Ireland is where strange tales begin and happy endings are possible"

    - Charles Haughey
    Close up of shamrock flowers, also known as three-leaf clovers, one of Ireland's most well known symbols

    If you've recently booked a trip to Ireland, you're probably feeling happy, excited, and maybe a little unsure about what to expect! We meet new visitors every single day here in Dublin and love giving advice about what to see and do. So, we put together this short list of tips for travelling to Ireland to help you plan ahead and make the most of your first trip.

    Tip #1: Spend time exploring free museums and heritage sites in Dublin

    The National Gallery, National History Museum, and National Library are all located within a few minutes walk of one another and offer unique exhibitions of Irish art and culture. Plus, after visiting the National Library, you might find yourself more Irish than when you arrived! The library hosts a popular family history center where you can discover and trace your Irish roots all over the country. After a morning at the free museums, take a stroll through the Trinity College campus - a must-see for anyone new to Ireland. The college is over 400 years old and has many famous alumni including Oscar Wilde, Samuel Beckett, and Edmund Burke. Trinity is also home to the Book of Kells, which you can admire for a small admission fee.

    The long room library at trinity college dublin

    Tip #2: It will rain but it will also shine

    Next to Aran sweaters and whisky, Ireland is known for its rainy weather. A waterproof jacket and waterproof shoes will keep you warm and dry on rainy days - but skip the umbrella as the winds here are often strong enough to break it. For sunnier days, a pair of sneakers will keep your feet happy on cobblestone streets. To really dress like a local, pack your layers. Depending on the day (and even the hour), you can be comfortable in a jacket, sweater, or just a t-shirt.

    A sunny Dublin street

    Tip #3: Its worth it to shop local

    Irelands capital city, Dublin, is booming with brand names and high street shops. While youre spoiled for choice here, its worth the experience to visit local mom and pop shops. Before the recent economic boom, nearly all businesses were family-owned, so if you want a taste of real Ireland, these are the places to make time for. While we were founders of the Aran sweater trade in Dublin and have continued for some 30+ years, some local businesses in Dublin have even been around for over 100 years! Many of these businesses (ourselves included) pride themselves on providing excellent service and care deeply about sharing Irish heritage with visitors. If youd like a more historic and authentic shopping experience, its worth it to visit local shops as you explore our lovely country. 

    Tip #4: Take advantage of tax-free shopping during your stay

    Money saving alert! If you are a non-EU resident, you can claim back some of the tax you pay while youre travelling in Ireland. Any time you buy a souvenir - anything you can take back with you - ask for your tax back or V.A.T. form from the retailer. Once youve collected your forms, simply fill them out and hand them in at the airport. After you pass through security in Dublin Airport (either terminal), youll see signs directing you to a special desk where you hand over these forms and your claim is processed. During peak travel season, the queues can grow, so its smart to plan an extra 20 minutes or so in case you need to wait before handing over your forms. All in all, its a pretty simple process, and a great way to save money while you travel.

    Tip #5: Right left right

    This one might seem simple, but its worth remembering when you first arrive! Cars and other vehicles in Ireland travel on the wrong side of the road. Spare yourself a close save and be sure to check both ways before crossing the road.

    A table showing a bowl of Irish seafood chowder, a plate with a gourmet sandwich, and a pint of guinness and bulmers

    Tip #6: It's easy to eat well

    Cuisine in Ireland ranges gloriously from 3:00am kebabs to Michelin Star restaurants. A major perk of being an island is that the seafood is fantastic (if we do say so ourselves). Along with traditional Irish cooking, Ireland boasts an impressive amount of international cuisines to try while youre here. 

     If youre in Dublin, check out:

    • Host Restaurant in Ranelagh for artisanal farm-to-table fare
    • The Millstone Restaurant near Trinity College for upscale traditional Irish cuisine
    • Beshoff Bros for the best fish and chips (also offers gluten free for coeliacs)
    • 101 Talbot for locally sourced Mediterranean-style cooking and popular pre-theatre menus (known for being vegetarian friendly)

    If youre in southern Ireland, consider a visit to Kinsale, the foodie capital of Ireland and home to:

    • Bastion, featured in the 2020 UK and Ireland Michelin Guide, offers a cosy, thoughtful, high-end dining experience perfect for those who want to spend the evening in good company and great food. 
    • Nine Market Street offers lovely meals that are locally sourced and absolutely delicious. Plus the views are gorgeous.
    the cliffs of moher with a blue cloudy sky and dark ocean below

    Tip #7: Dont forget to go beyond Dublin

    James Joyce famously wrote When I die, Dublin will be written in my heart, and its easy to see why our happy capital tempts so many to stay. However, the Emerald Isle has even more to offer outside of Dublin. Check out the many excellent day tour options, or rent a car and create your own adventure. The west coast of Ireland is a family favourite. Its known for its beautiful coastal roads and hiking trails, and for its preservation of traditional Irish culture and language. 

    Tip #8: Go with the flow

    Ireland is known as the land of a hundred thousand welcomes (cad mle filte). If youre ever unsure of where to go or what to do, dont be afraid to ask for help. Most people are happy to give advice or directions, and you can always pop into a tourist visitor centre for assistance. When in doubt, keep the faith and say as we do, itll be grand

    Sweater Shop circular logo
  • 7 Irish Ways to Say I Love You

    Ireland and Valentines Day go way back -- all the way to the 19th century. After Father John Spratt of Ireland gave an impassioned speech in Rome in 1836, Pope Gregory XVI bestowed him with a holy relic of Saint Valentine. This precious gift was housed in the Carmelite Church on Whitefriar Street (now Aungier Street), where it remains to this day for visitors to honour the Saint. With such a close connection, its no wonder Valentines Day is an Irish favourite.

    The holiday isnow widely celebrated, yet funnily enough, the phrase I love you doesnttranslate directly into Irish. Instead, the best way to express your love toyour valentine is to say "is t mo ghr" (you are my love). Bonuspoints if you can add the Irish accent, voted most attractive in the world in2019. But if words arent your thing, weve made this short list of 7 IrishWays to Say I Love You:

    Laughter

    Ireland is called the land of saints and scholars - but we also like to have a good laugh. For a light-hearted gift, send your valentine one of these novel t-shirts - guaranteed to put a smile on their face.

    Protect your loved one from the rain

    After aransweaters and whisky, Ireland is probably best known for its rainy weather!Treat your valentine to a thoughtful, make-your-day-better gift of a cosy hatand gloves, or a warm scarf.

    http://bit.ly/2SfNcql

    Give the gift of joy

    Almost nothing will top the joy of opening up a brand new Aran sweater. If you really want to make your valentine (or yourself) smile, choose from our hand-picked favourites for men and women or shop the valentines day collection. We have a great selection of festive and classic colours to fit the holiday spirit.

    Set up a date night at home

    Cozy up to the one you love on a romantic night in. Blankets are a great gift for your valentine. Pair it with a bottle of wine and a classic comedy (we recommend Waking Ned Devine)

    http://bit.ly/2GRJsWR

    A claddagh

    Finally, the old school Irish way to show your love is to give a claddaghring, necklace, or pair of earrings. Originating in the town Claddagh in County Galway around the 17th century, the claddagh symbolises love (the heart), friendship (the two hands), and loyalty (the crown). Its a timeless gift and one your valentine will definitely be thankful for.

    http://bit.ly/3bcccra

    Happy ValentinesDay!!

  • Why The Natural Fibres in our Irish Sweaters Are So Special

    There is nothing quite like throwing on your favourite Irish Aran sweater on a cold winter day, and it's even better when you have a sweater made out of natural fibres. All our sweaters are made of 100% natural fibres such as merino wool, lambswool, and a wool and cashmere blend so they will keep you warm and toasty throughout the colder days ahead. Find out more about why these fibres are so special below.

    Merino Wool

    Merino Wool is an amazing fibre due to it keeping you cool in the summer and warm in the winter due to its ability to regulate your body temperature. This amazing wool also transports moisture away from your skin because the fibres are porous - all this to say that your sweater will not only keep you warm, but also dry.  It literally is the perfect fibre for your Aran sweater so you can wear it all year around. It's guaranteed to keep the cold weather at bay and the compliments coming your way.

    A lovely example of this is our gorgeous ladies crew neck sweater crafted from Merino wool - it's a classic style that will never date.

    Ladies Natural Irish Aran Cable Knit Sweater

    Lambswool

    Lambswool is wool taken from the first shearing of a sheep at around 7 months. As a result, it is soft and elastic, so it is great for Irish Aran sweaters or plain light weight sweaters. It also insulates heat and is water resistant. Looking for the perfect gift for that special guy? The beautiful men's lambswool sweater below would be the perfect luxury gift for any occasion.

    mens blue lambswool v-neck sweater

    Wool and Cashmere Blend

    The wool and cashmere blend has to be one of our favourites! This is a mixture of merino wool and cashmere that gives the softest and most luxurious feel to Irish Aran sweaters.

    We are finding more and more customers want the softness of a cashmere sweater but find the price of 100% cashmere too high, therefore this blend is the perfect solution for your Aran sweater. You can have the softness and luxury of cashmere with the blend, but without the price tag.

    trellis aran sweater light pink wool cashmere
    This ladies wool cashmere trellis sweater in a gorgeous pink colour is one of our most popular styles and features this comfy blend of natural fibres.

    Many of the products in our store are made with natural fibres like Merino wool, lambswool, and wool and cashmere. Browse our selection and should you have any queries, please get in touch or visit us in store! We'd love to help you pick the perfect sweater or accessory for you.

  • Summer Gift Guide: 15 Sweaters and Accessories That Would Make Perfect Gifts For Loved Ones

    Woollen bags, scarves, sweaters, hats, and more; you would be amazed at the range of year-round knitwear that makes a highly suitable gift for a special occasion.

    A carefully selected sweater or accessory can send a strong message of warmth for events like weddings, birthdays, and christenings.

    Merino wool clothing keeps you cool in warm weather and warm in cool weather. A breathable, easy-to-care for product that never wrinkles, it makes the ideal gift. Check out these specially selected items below for some ideas!

    Accessories for Everybody

    1. Two toned plated Aran throw

    Made from cozy Merino wool, this beautiful item would go well at the end of a bed or draped over a couch.

    1. Adult Aran cable knit slippers

    With cable knit stitching throughout and an anti-slip sole, the recipient of this beautiful gift will be grateful for these on cooler evenings throughout the year.

    1. Merino Aran picnic blanket

    This blanket is perfect for taking on picnics to the park or beach or for using on a bed or couch.

    1. Aran peak cable hat

    This one-size fits all, oatmeal-colored hat & mittens set is a great gift that would look stylish on people of any age.

    Gifts for Women

    1. Super soft Merino wool one size poncho

    An incredibly adaptable gift that can be worn by women of any size and most situations. The recipient of this gift could wear it outside, inside, while hiking, on a date, or even at more formal events.

    1. Ladies Aran tunic sweater

    With generous Irish Aran cable knit and an intricate scalloped hem, this elegant sweater would look lovely on women of any age. It comes in four different sizes so there's something for everybody.

    1. Magenta Flapper cap

    This 100% wool cap has an elasticized back for a snug fit and a design that blends the old with the new.

    1. One size 100% wool Irish shawl

    Available in gray or natural color, this shawl is unique, with fashionable fringes and a special colored stripe.

    1. Ladies ribbed cardigan fisherman out of Ireland

    The horizontal ribs on this cardigan look stunning. This practical and stylish item can be worn year-round.

    1. Cotton crafted poncho Millhouse-spice red

    A wonderful addition to any wardrobe, this wrap will keep women snug in summer. Based on Irish heritage and traditional Aran patterns, this wrap makes people feel and look great. Hand crafted, this gift is one size fits all.

    Gifts for Men

    1. Men's flat cap patchwork wool

    Men of all ages will appreciate this traditional flat cap, synonymous with Irish style, and evoking warmth and approachability. This cap has been individually made from patches of Irish tweed, ensuring that each one is unique.

    1. Men's fisherman full-zip cardigan

    Made of 100% merino wool, this sweater looks great worn over a t-shirt or polo neck with the zipper up or down. It comes in various gentle colors such asdenim marl, light gray marl, and more.

    1. Men's Fisherman Guinness sweater

    This stylish item has a crew neck and a black, gray and white gradient design. A luxurious and soft sweater, the recipient of this gift will wear it for a lifetime.

    1. 100% lambswool V-neck ink

    Made of light-weight wool, this item is perfect for spring and summer. It goes well with jeans and over a well-loved shirt for a sophisticated look.

    1. Traditional grandfather shirt

    This collarless shirt with a relaxed fit is worn by the young and old throughout Ireland. Also known as a Sunday shirt, it is particularly great for a date, or a semi-casual to formal event.

     

  • What to Pack For A Trip to Ireland at Any Time of Year

     

    If youre planning a trip to Ireland, you need to know what to pack. Since the Emerald Isle lies in the oft-temperamental North Atlantic, the weather can change in a heartbeat. You can literally experience all four seasons in a single day.

    For your trip, then, youll need to take along outfits that work well in layers. Layered clothing gives you the option to remove layers when its feeling summery, yet when the rain and chill sets in, you can add a warm woolen sweater and some rain gear to keep you toasty.

    We hope this guide will help you pack for your trip to Ireland at any time of the year. Dont forget, theres plenty more to remember to pack than just your wardrobe, but we think weve covered all the bases!

    Trip To Ireland

    Pack Clothing that Keeps You Comfortable

    Since clothing often takes up the bulk of the room in your luggage, lets start packing with your wardrobe.

    Pack for a winter trip

    Average temperatures during Irish winters range from 45 degrees F in December down to 41 degrees in both January and February. Though relatively mild compared to the northern United States, keep in mind, youll likely have plenty of cold, rainy days during the winteran average of 23, so your winter wardrobe should include plenty of choices that ward off the damp.

    • Stave off the cold with Aran wool:Theres a reason why Aran wool is such a popular choice among Irish people. Not only does it insulate against the cold, but it also keeps you warm even when youre wet. Therefore, youll want to pack aclassic wool jacketor astylish ponchoand a couple ofhand-knit fisherman sweaterspack a couple ofAran wool sweaters for the kids, too!
    • Accessorize with warmth: Since your extremities are more vulnerable to the damp and the cold than the rest of your body, keep your head toasty with asoft, cozy hat. Packwarm glovesand socks to keep your hands and feet comfortable, even on long hikes along Irelands breathtaking cliffs and shore. Kids, especially, can get chilled quickly, even if theyre active. Make sure they have hats that cover their ears as well as warm wool gloves and socks to keep their extremities warm.

    Enjoy the Irish spring in pure comfort

    Springtime is when youll see the magic of the lush Irish landscape come to life. Even though the earth is warming up from its long winter slumber, youll still have some cool days to contend with, along with the spring rains. Temperatures range from an average of 45 and 46 degrees in March and April to sunny May, when average temperatures rise to 52 degrees.

    • Keep warm with sweaters:ThickAran wool sweatersare a must for men, women, and children when youre taking your spring vacation in Ireland. Keep a poncho handy, too, for the cooler, wetter days.
    • Lighten up on your accessories:Switch your cap to alighter oneto keep your head warm and dry without the bulk of thick winter hats.Wool socks, though, are a must to keep your feet warm if its a drizzly day.

    Prepare for the summer weathers ups and downs

    Summers in Ireland are cooland often wet, with August usually being the rainiest month. Be prepared for whatever Mother Nature dishes out with a wardrobe that keeps you comfortable in all kinds of weather.

    Outerwear thats perfect in form and function:For warmer days, you cant beat acotton T-shirt or polofor its moisture-wicking properties. Blend in with the locals with shirts that tout your beverage or university of choice. Swap your heavy sweater for alight cardiganthat buttons up for warmth and is easy to remove altogether when the suns rays beat down on you. A cotton summer wrap keeps you warm yet never overpowers as it wicks away sweat to keep you comfortable. Women should bring at least one dress that can double as a day and evening dress, while men should pack a tie and a dress shirt, in case you get an invitation to a more formal event.

    Wick away moisture and fend off the chill:Irish summer evenings can be a bit chilly, as can rainy days. A loosely knitwool scarf in a summery coloris just the thing to take the chill off even as it wicks away the damp. For kids, a light woolen poncho might be a better choice. You can layer it over a cool cotton shirt on brisk mornings or evenings. It's then easy to remove when it warms up.

    Enjoy falls crisp mornings with a wardrobe to rival Nature

    Nothing beats autumn in Ireland. With incredible foliage, spectacular scenery,whale-watching at its peak, and off-season hotel rates, you can enjoy Irelands best for less. Average temperatures range from 57 in September, cooling off to 52 and 46, respectively, for October and November.

    Channel falls colors with sweaters and jackets:The perfect top for chilly fall days, a womensDonegal wool-blend sweater in deep burgundyprovides stiff competition to Mother Nature. Nothing says fall like tweedso be sure to pack astylish tweed jacket in autumn plum. For kids, nothings better on chilly fall days than acozy neutral-colored sweaterthat goes with almost anything.

    Keep the fall theme going with autumn accessories:Nothing says autumn in Ireland like a classic wool patch cap for men. Not only will it give you an authentic look, but it will also keep your head warm, even on Novembers coolest days. With your fall-themed wardrobe, carry anautumn-brown tweed bag, large enough to carry everything youll need on a long stroll through the countryside or down one of Dublins charming streets.

    Other Useful Essentials

    Along with your wardrobe and accessories, youll need to pack some travel necessities.

    • Travel documents:Keep your passport with you as you travel. Dont forget to print out your airline tickets and tickets for shows, tooif youve booked seats at the Gaiety or Bord Gais Theatre ahead of time. If you have a chronic medical condition, bring a doctors note in case you have a health issue while traveling. If you plan to drive, its a good idea to apply for an international drivers license well before you leave. If youre from North America, remember that Irish drivers drive on the opposite side of the road. Brush up on Irelands rules of the road beforehand to avoid any nasty surprises.
    • Gadgets:If youre from the States, be sure to bring apower adapter If you plan a side trip to the rest of Europe, get a universal power adapter that has both European and UK settings. If youre only visiting Ireland and the UK, just get a Type G adapter. If you have a cheap international roaming plan, turn it on before you leave. If not, you should pick up a cheap cell phone or an Irish SIM card at the Dublin airport after you land. Whatever device you bring, buy a waterproof case for it. With rain in the forecast and kilometers of beachfront, why take a chance? Remember that temperatures in Ireland are measured on the Celsius scale and distances with the metric system. You might want to install a measurement conversion app on your device to keep you informed.
    • Credit cards, debit cards, and cash:Before you leave, exchange some of your own countrys money for a little cash for your first couple of days in Ireland. That way, you wont have to rush around to find a currency exchange when you land. Inform your bank and credit card providers that youll be going abroad so they wont flag your card for possible fraud.
    • Toiletries and medications:Pack your favorite fragrance, toothpaste, and all needed medications in your bag before you leave. Those familiar things will help you feel at home even when youre an ocean away. Many travelers pack a small first aid kit so they wont have to stop at a pharmacy for minor injuries and illnesses.
    • Extras:If youre visiting long-lost relatives, you might want to bring along some photos of your extended family to compare notes with your Irish cousins. Limit jewelry to only essentials. If you have valuables, bring along a small safe to keep them in at the hotel while youre out. Finally, dont forget the keys to your own home. You wouldnt want to have to spend your first night back home in another hotel!

    When youre traveling overseas to Ireland or anywhere else, for that matter it pays to prepare well beforehand. Packing is a big part of that preparation. When youre prepared, you can relax and enjoy your trip without a worry in the world.

     

     

  • The Best St Patrick's Day Pubs Dublin Revealed by Price 2019

    St Patricks Day is one of our favourite holidays here at The Sweatershop. Every year we look forward to welcoming back the Irish diaspora to celebrate our unique culture and heritage on our national day. From traditional local pubs to lively bars, Dublin is known for its variety of venues to refresh and entertain visitors. Its traditional on St. Patricks Day to have a pint of the black stuff and with that in mind we set out to find out which pubs serve the ultimate pint of Guinness across the city, based on price, atmosphere, history and why they are worth a visit for locals and tourists alike. Take a look at our guide to Dublin pubs, all offering a unique warm Irish welcome across the city from North to South.

    Where are the cheapest pubs in Dublin?

    The Snug Bar 3.70

    The Snug bar Dublin The Snug Bar Dublin

    The Snug Bar is centrally located on Stephen Street Upper, this no-frills pub is ideal for a stop-off if you are visiting Dublin Castle or Dubh Linn Garden nearby. Frequented by locals, youll find the interior simple and quaint. The prices for a pint are also refreshingly reasonable.

    The Portobello 4.00

    The Portobello Bar Dublin The Portobello

    The bar at The Portobello Hotel on South Richmond Street is a lively venue with an intriguing history. During the 1916 Easter Rising, it was seized by nationalist rebels to prevent reinforcements from the nearby British army barracks advancing. Nowadays, you can simply relax with a pint of Guinness and watch the world drift by on the adjacent canal.

    The Auld Triangle 4.00

    The Auld Triangle The Auld Triangle

    Famous for its mural dedicated to the 1981 hunger strikers, this unpretentious pub sits on the corner of Dorset Street and Temple Street in Drumcondra, not far from Croke Park Stadium. This authentic pub is ideal for a few quiet pints if youre in the area attending a sporting fixture, with some banter with the regulars thrown in.

    Downey's (Cabra) 4.00

    Downeys Bar Cabra Downeys Cabra

    Downeys on the New Cabra Road in Glasnevin has an authentic feel thanks to its patronage by locals. Not far from Phoenix Park and Dublin Zoo, its known as a warm and welcoming place to stop for a pint or two and a spot of craic with the regulars.

    The Lark Inn 4.10

    The Lark Inn Dublin The Lark Inn Dublin

    The Lark Inn is nestled in the heart of The Liberties, a historic part of the city where you can visit vibrant markets and galleries and one of Dublins top attractions, The Guinness Storehouse. The inn is an ideal place for a pit stop where you can enjoy simple, wholesome food and live traditional music on weekends.

    Dicey Reillys Bar 4.20

    Diceys Beer Garden Dublin Dicey Reilly's Beer Garden Dublin

    This famous Dublin bar is just moments away from St. Stephens Green, Trinity College and the main shopping area of Grafton Street. Its the perfect place for a break from the attractions of central Dublin. You can enjoy a carvery lunch or a barbeque by day and then party into the evening with Diceys late bar and DJ.

    The Yacht Public House 4.20

    The Yacht Bar Ringsend Dublin The Yacht Bar Ringsend

    The Yacht is situated overlooking Dublin Bay. Its outdoor seating area provides the perfect spot to enjoy the quiet atmosphere and watch the water. Youll find the interior beautifully decorated with vintage touches and a tempting gastropub-style menu on offer.

    Kavanagh's (Stoneybatter) 4.20

    Kavanagh's Bar Stoneybatter Dublin Kavanagh's Stoneybatter

    This historic pub is set in a turreted redbrick building and will enchant you with its authentic atmosphere and fine selection of beers. Its equidistant between the Jamestown Distillery and Dublin Zoo and Phoenix Park, and will offer you a glimpse into an authentic Dublin community.

    The Bridge Tavern 4.20

    The Bridge Tavern, Summerhill Parade The Bridge Tavern, Summerhill

    This cozy tavern near Croke Park stadium is hard to miss thanks to the colorful murals celebrating its proximity to Dublin's top sports venue. Sipping a pint at the bar is the perfect way to whet your appetite before a match. You can enjoy mixing with the current locals and those from past times whose portraits now adorn the walls.

    The Clock 4.20

    The Clock, The Liberties The Clock, The Liberties

    This quirky pub on Thomas Street in The Liberties district certainly lives up to its name with its collection of clocks. Frequented by more locals than tourists, youll also find a warm, authentic atmosphere and unusual touches such as an aviary in the back yard.

    Where are the Most Expensive Pubs in Dublin?

    The Temple Bar - 6.90

    The Temple Bar, Dublin The Temple Bar, Dublin

    If youre visiting the lively Temple Bar area of Dublin, you cant miss the pub of the same name. You can enjoy the full Irish experience here with live traditional music, a range of whiskeys and beer, and local food including their signature dish of oysters, best served with a pint or two of Guinness.

    The Vathouse Bar, Temple Bar- 6.80

    The Vathouse Bar, Temple Bar The Vathouse Bar, Temple Bar

    Located in Blooms Hotel, this lively pub in Temple Bar is named after the vat house at the Guinness Brewery where Irelands most famous drink is matured in big copper vats. The interior is living history with the wood on the floors salvaged from the citys old vat houses. Enjoy a tasty range of authentic food and drinks while soaking up the historic atmosphere.

    The Oliver St. John Gogarty - 6.50

    The Oliver St. John Gogarty, Temple Bar The Oliver St. John Gogarty, Temple Bar

    This bar named after the surgeon, playwright and poet is at the heart of Temple Bar. As you would expect, it offers a lively venue for enjoying Irish whiskeys, beer and food, as well as traditional music. Housed in two of Temple Bars oldest buildings, youll find a restaurant on the top floor where you can sample local dishes, many made from historic recipes.

    Fitzsimons, Temple Bar - 6.50

    Fitzsimons, Temple Bar Fitzsimons, Temple Bar

    Fitzsimons Bar, situated in the hotel of the same name, is another Temple Bar gem. Arranged over five stories, you can enjoy live music in the main bar or relax in the heated rooftop beer garden with its fantastic views over the area.

    The Auld Dubliner - 6.50

    The Auld Dubliner, Temple Bar The Auld Dubliner, Temple Bar

    Traditional dcor and a warm welcome await you at The Auld Dubliner. This pub boasts a mouth-watering menu of traditional dishes such as beef and Guinness stew and Dublin Bay scampi with a backdrop of impressive live music acts.

    Caf en Seine - 6.30

    Cafe en Seine Dublin Caf en Seine, Dawson Street

    This spacious bar and restaurant centrally located on Dawson Street will impress you with its newly-refurbished elegant Art Nouveau interior. Youll also love the five-star service, sophisticated menu, and the dazzling range of cocktails and many other drinks waiting to be sampled.

    The Church - 6.15

    The Church Bar, Dublin City Centre The Church, Dublin City Centre

    This unique venue at the junction of Mary Street and Jervis Street was converted from a historic church and comprises a caf, restaurant, and bar, with a beer garden and outdoor terraces. Not only does it serve great food, drink and craic, but you can also revel in the magnificent architecture and even take a tour of the burial crypts.

    Buskers - 6.00

    Buskers Bar, Temple Bar Buskers, Temple Bar

    For a lively experience, visit Buskers Bar in Temple Bar, not far from Grafton Street and OConnell Bridge. The bar boasts live music seven nights a week. If the food and well-stocked bar arent enough to tempt you, you can join a cocktail making class provided by one of their resident experts.

    The Quays Bar & Restaurant - 5.90

    The Quays Bar & Restaurant, Temple Bar The Quays Bar & Restaurant, Temple Bar

    The Quays Bar offers a full range of drinks and live music seven days a week, while the restaurant on the first floor will tempt you with local dishes such as Irish stew and Wicklow lamb shank. Conveniently located in Temple Bar, its the perfect place for experiencing the classic Irish craic.

    The Jar - 5.90

    The Jar, Wexford Street The Jar, Wexford Street

    Situated on Wexford Street, a short walk from St. Stephens Green, The Jar offers more than just its extensive drinks menu. You can enjoy as much pizza as you can eat on Sundays from 3 pm, or try something different with a Paint and Prosecco session where you create your own work of art with a glass of bubbly to inspire you.

    About Us

    The Sweatershop is a family run business in Ireland specialising in traditional aran sweaters.We are alsoproud to stock a wide variety of official Guinness merchandise includingGuinness t-shirts, hats, rugby shirts and hoodies and you can now get 25% off in our St. Patricks Day Sale! For true fans of the black stuff!

     

  • The Complete Guide to Exploring the Aran Islands

    Aran Islands with Sundown

    image source

    Planning a day trip or a vacation to the Aran Islands? These ruggedly beautiful islands welcome around 200,000 visitors every year, all keen to catch a glimpse of real Ireland, escape from the busyness of the modern world, experience traditional culture, and of course, take in the desolate windswept beauty of this unique location.

    About the Aran Islands

    The Aran Islands are a group of three islands in Galway Bay, off the west coast of Ireland. Theyre home to some of the oldest archaeological sites in Ireland and have a fascinating history.

    Isolated from the mainland until the 20th century, traditional island life continues in many ways as it has for hundreds of years, with most residents making a living through subsistence farming and fishing. The islands are also the home of the world-famous Aran knitwear.

    Gaelic is the official language of the Aran Islands and is the first and preferred language of most of the residents. These days everyone speaks English too, but if you try out a couple of phrases youre sure to get a smile. If you stay overnight, its a must to hang out with the locals in one of the local pubs, where you can enjoy a pint or two and listen to traditional live music.

    Inis Mor (Inishmore) Island

    The cliffs of Mohar at sundown
    image source

    Inis Mr is the most westerly and the largest of the three islands. Its only around 9 miles long and less than 2.5 miles wide at its widest point, which makes it easy to travel around the whole island in a day. Its the most popular with visitors and offers the most amenities such as shops, cafes, and accommodation options.

    The island is home to around 1,000 people and there are fewer than 100 vehicles. Most visitors rent bikes to get around, and you can also take a tour in a pony and trap, which is a popular activity with many tourists. There are minibus tours available, which can be handy if youre on a day trip and want to see as much as you can in a short time frame.

    Where to Stay

    Kilronan Hostel A cozy budget accommodation option with small shared dorm rooms.

    Aonghasa's Walker's Lodge A comfortable mid-price option thats great for solo travelers and serves up a good breakfast.

    Ard Einne House Good value for money guesthouse with amazing views.

    Ard Mhuiris B&B A family-run B&B in an excellent location with free ferry transfers.

    Pier House Guesthouse Great location close to the pier, and with a nice restaurant.

    Aran Islands Hotel A traditional island hotel with an attached pub that offers regular live music.

    Tigh Fitz A family-run guesthouse with clean rooms and friendly hosts.

    What to See

    Kilronan village This is the only village on all three of the islands and is also the only place on the island with a supermarket and ATM, so its essential to stop here for supplies. Its also a quaint little village thats fun to explore with several cafes, gift shops, and traditional Irish pubs where you can meet the locals.

    Dn Aonghasa A 2,000-year-old Celtic fort on the edge of a massive limestone cliff. This is the most famous tourist attraction on the Aran Islands and is definitely a must-see.

    Seven Churches Another archaeological site containing the ruins of several ancient chapels and monasteries.

    Wormhole An impressive natural rectangular-shaped tidal pool accessed by a cliff-top walk south from Dn Aonghasa. Its part of the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series

    Seal Colony Theres a natural seal habitat that you can see off the coastal road on the way to Kilmurvey beach. Just next door is also a small lake where you can see wild ducks, swans, and other birds.

    The Black Fort A ruin set atop the cliffs on the southern side of the island with impressive views. Its much less popular than Dn Aonghasa, which makes it ideal for a more peaceful excursion.

    Dun Eoghanacht A ruined Iron Age fort surrounded by a double circular wall with the remains of several stone houses inside.

    Inis Mein (Inishmaan) Island

    aran island stone walls
    image source

    Inis Mein has a population of only 200 people and is the quietest of the three islands. Its a great place to take a deep dive into traditional Irish life and culture, with many residents still choosing to wear traditional Irish clothing, and various cultural courses on offer such as dance and poetry.

    What to See

    A sign to synges chair

    image source

    SyngesChair A viewpoint on the most western point of the island, where you can see the waves crashing in Gregorys Sound below. This is where the playwright Edward John Millington Synge would sit for inspiration while writing.

    The Puffing Holes They're holes in the ground at the top of the cliffs that create a spray of seawater similar to a whale when the waves are high.

    The Heritage House A traditional thatched cottage housing various historical artifacts relating to the island.

    Inis Mein Knitting Co Traditional knitwear factory where you can purchase Aran Sweaters at discounted prices.

    Where to Stay

    An Dun B&B and Restaurant Located in the middle of the island, this B&B offers a steam room, sauna, and delicious home-cooked meals.

    Inis Mein Restaurant & Suites A boutique hotel experience on the islands with five modern apartment-style suites.

    Tig Congaile B&B A simple B&B with sea views and organized activities.

     

    Inis Orr (Inisheer) Island

    The smallest of the islands, Inis Orr is a traditional Irish fishing island with stunning sandy beaches. Less than 2 miles long and wide, the island is easily walkable, and you can explore its valleys and sights by foot or by bicycle. The island may be small but it has a fascinating history and like the other islands is dotted with ancient ruins including a buried church that lies six feet below the surface.

     

    What to See

    ThePlassy A shipwreck that ran aground on the island after a storm in March 1960. A nearby pub, Tigh Ned, displays photographs and documents detailing the rescue of the people onboard, all of whom miraculously survived.

    Obriens Castle A ruined castle dating back to 1585, that was built on the highest point on the island. After climbing the 100m to the top youll be rewarded with stunning views that are particularly spectacular at sunset.

    St Kevins Church The ruins of the 10th century St. Kevins church are below the surface of the earth, as sand has blown over the site and covered it up over hundreds of hears. Hoever, its been uncovered so you can climb down and explore.

    Where to Stay

    An Creagn B&B Comfortable rooms with great views in this modern and clean B & B.

    Inisheer Hotel Clean and friendly hotel on the beach with a popular bar.

    Tigh Ruairi A friendly pub with a cozy B&B attached.

     

    What to Do on the Aran Islands

    image source

    Apart from the main tourist attractions on each island, the Aran Islands offer a wide range of activities for solo travelers, couples, and families alike.

    Surfing

    The swells generated in Galway bay make the islands a popular spot for surfers

    Hiking

    The islands are relatively flat, making some walks accessible to all fitness levels, with stunning scenery. A popular walk is The Ring of Aran on Inis Mr starting at Kilronan village, visiting the standing stones, Kilmurvey beach, the seal colony, Dun Aonghasa, the Wormhole, and the lighthouse, the walk takes around 3-6 hours and youll be rewarded with panoramic views as well as seeing many sights on the island.

    Weddings and honeymoons

    The Aran Islands have become a popular place for romantic trips due to their secluded location and moving scenery. Some of the hotels offer wedding packages and you can even have a traditional Celtic wedding ceremony with hand fasting or blessing as the holy well.

    Fishing and boating

    Fishing is part of traditional life on the Aran Islands and is also a popular yachting locating, particularly in the summer months.

    Cycling

    Due to the small number of motorized vehicles on the island and the flat geography, cycling is the most popular method of transport for visitors. The 30-minute bike ride from the Pier on Inis Mr Island to Dun Aonghasa is regarded as one of the most popular cycling routes in Ireland.

    Yoga and meditation

    There are a few parts of the world where you can relax and focus in absolute silence, but the Aran Islands is one of them. There are regularly arranged meditation retreats and you can, of course, enjoy your own practice theres certainly plenty of space to find solitude. There is a natural spiritual energy on the islands that has to be experienced to be understood. The Aran Islands have been a place of pilgrimage for thousands of years, and you can visit these sacred pilgrimage locations all over the islands.

    Beaches

    All three of the islands boast white sandy beaches with turquoise water that rivals the Caribbean islands. They may be a little cooler, but if youre lucky you can get the whole beach to yourself.

    Wildlife

    The Aran Islands are home to a wide array of wildlife with habitats unspoiled by human habitation and modern progress. You can see many different types of seabirds, seals, lizards, over 400 species of wildflowers, and butterflies.

    TedFest Are you a fan of the cult TV series Father Ted? The Aran islands are the original Craggy Island and Inis Orr is pictured in the opening sequence. The annual father ted festival Tedfest (not to be confused with a TEDx event of the same name) is held annually on Inis Mr.

     

    How to Get There

    how to get to the aran islands by plane

    image source

    Aran Island Ferries sail from Rossaveal Ferry Terminal to all the islands year-round several times a day, and the crossing takes around 40 minutes. You can reach the ferry terminal by shuttle bus from Galway. Ferry crossings may be canceled in rough weather.

    Doolin Ferries and OBrien Line also run ferries in the busier season from March to November from Doolin, County Clare

    If you prefer to arrive by air, Aer Arann Islands flies to all the islands from Connemara Regional Airport. The flights take only around 10 minutes and you get the bonus of seeing the spectacular scenery from above.

  • The History of the Aran Sweater

    The Aran Sweater is named after the set of islands off Irelands West coast where it was first created many generations ago. The Aran Islands are located at the mouth of Galway Bay on the Atlantic Sea and are where fisherman and farmers dwelled and worked together.

    The Aran Sweater was fashioned in this environment and has since been passed down through generations to be considered the ultimate Irish Clan Heritage symbol. It is still very popular today in many knitting circles and is also worn by those who appreciate its origin and symbolism.

    Origin of the Aran Sweater

    origin of the Irish sweater

    Aran sweaters are highly sought-after, and still, make quite a fashion statement many years after their creation. Back in the 1950s on the aran Islands, many of the men were a fisherman. Out of necessity to combat the cold and tough conditions of the sea, the women handmade their fisherman husbands aran sweaters to keep them warm. Due to their popularity with the fishermen, they were also sold on the island which helped provide a living for some of the families.

    The intricate cables, bobbles and stitch patterns make these garments popular for a number of reasons. They are challenging to knit, lend aesthetic appeal to the apparel, and add warmth and thickness. Back then, handknitting an aran sweater took between 3 to 6 weeks to complete.

    The origin of the Aran sweater can be traced back to Guernsey, an island 400 miles South-East of the Aran Islands. Much of Guernseys trade relied on fishing, and the clothing requirements of fisherman were quite demanding.

    A fishermans clothes needed to be durable, easy to mend, stain resistant, easy to move about in, be able to provide warmth to the wearer, and if possible, keep out water. Thus, the gansa sweater.

    The Gansa was a simple design, allowing for free movement. Its dark navy color was stain-resistant to a number of liquids, and the knitting was tight to keep the wearer dry. Over time, the stitches became more complicated.

    As the popularity of the Gansa grew, knitters further developed the stitching, with noticeable differences seen in Ireland and Scotland. Various types of cable stitches were used: diamond lattices, plates, ropes, and the Celtic Knot design.

    Before long the stitch patterns covered the entire sweater, creating an even more aesthetically pleasing garment. Before long, commercial interest took hold, and the aran sweater began to really grow in popularity.

    As it evolved, the Aran sweater was manufactured with thicker yarn, the sweaters were knitted flat and seam is sewn together, and the stitching became looser. This decreased the amount of time it took to knit a sweater, thus increasing the arans production.

    The Aran sweater is known for its stitching patterns and intricacies and is considered both a practical choice and fashion statement.

    Aran Sweater Myths

    A myth about the Aran sweater is that the stitches are linked to family names the legend has it that each stitch represents a family second name so that is the fisherman was lost at sea the family would be able to identify the body by the stitch on the sweater although an interesting story, it has not been proven at a fact! While the aran sweaters were indeed knit to keep the fisherman warm and cosy at sea, the idea of each stitch is a family name is, unfortunately, a myth.

    Due to the expanding population of the aran Islands at the time, the government introduced a board called The Congested Districts Board as a way to come up with ideas of improving the standard of living on the island. The put a lot of effort into farming and fishing and knitting for the ladies.

    The people of the aran islands decided to bring over some Scottish fisherman to teach the Islanders a few things, they also brought some Scottish ladies who showed how to knit sweaters for a living. So the Irish ladies took their idea and made it their own - the yarn they used in Ireland was much thicker than the fine Scottish wool and the design had lots more patterns to it, rather than just the top which the Scottish version had. In approx 1935, these sweaters were so in demand they started selling them in the Dublin markets!

    Aran Sweater Stitches and Their Meanings

    types of aran stitches

    Aran knitting stitches are beautiful, complicated, and represent the lives of the fishermen who wore them. They must be handknitted, are believed to have been symbolic of nature, the sea, and the fishing families who lived on the Aran Islands. The patterns on Aran sweaters are based on Irish Tradition each stitch represents a different meaning and symbolizes something of importance. Here are some of the most popular stitches and their meanings.

    The Basket Stitch

    basket stitch

    This stitch represents the basket the fisherman used, and his hope of filling it with his catches.

    Blackberry Stitch

    blackberry stitch

    This is symbolic of the rich abundance of nature, and may also possess religious implications.

    Cable stitch

    cable stitch

    This is, perhaps, the most frequent stitch found on Irish sweaters, and comes in different forms. The plain cable illustrates the ropes of Irish fisherman, promising good luck and safety at sea. A plated stitch illustrates how daily life and hard work are woven together.

    Tree of Life or Trinity Stitch

    trinity stitch
    This stitch is said to promise a long life and strong children. Religious connotations are also thought to be represented.

    Trellis stitch

    trellis stitch

    This stitch is symbolic of the landscape patterns of fenced-in fields accompanied by roughly hewn stones that protect inhabitants from strong winds on the island.

    Irish Moss Stitch

    irish moss knit stitch

    This is often used as a diamond filler and suggests a respectable harvest. It symbolizes carrageen moss, which is a type of seaweed on the Irish coast that is used as both food and fertilizer of barren fields.

    Honeycomb Stitch

    honeycomb stitch
    This stitch is a reminder of the bee who works hard and assures a reward for labour.

    Diamond stitch

    diamond stitch
    This stitch symbolizes the shapes of mesh fishing net, and also stands for success and wealth.

    Zig Zag Stitch

    Zig Zag Stitch

    This stitch represents the ups and downs that married couples face.

    Types of Aran sweaters

    When selecting an Aran sweater, there are many different types from which to choose. Some are outlined below.

    Womens Cable Knit

    This style is crafted from soft, Merino wool with the cable knit design. This traditional stitch is quite popular because it represents the culture from which it came.

    Handknit Crew Neck

    Also made of soft Merino wool, this design for men also features the cable stitch, and has a crew neckline.

    Unisex Aran

    This option is constructed of different types of Irish stitching, starting with the honeycomb around the centre, with cable stitching on either side.

    Shawl Neck

    mens shawl neck aran sweater for men

    The shawl neck aran sweater features delicate Aran stitching with a shawl neck. It works well for both daytimes casual or nighttime dressing up.

    Wool and Cashmere Trellis

    trellis aran sweater light pink wool cashmere

    This Aran wool and trellis stitched sweater is 95% Merino wool and 5% cashmere and is a soft, comfortable option.

    Turtleneck

    womens turtleneck aran sweater

    The turtleneck aran sweater features aran stitching and a turtleneck for added warmth.

    Denim Marl

    Featuring Aran stitching, this sweater is 100% Merino wool, and is warm, soft and stylish to wear.

    The Evolution of the Irish Sweater

    Generations after its creation, the Aran sweater is still going strong. Recently the aran sweater made the list of iconic fashion pieces featured in an exhibition in Manhattans Museum of Modern Art. Chosen because of its impact on the world during the last century, it has remained popular in the entertainment industry and fashion world alike.

    The National Museum of Ireland loaned one of its oldest sweaters for the exhibition, where it was placed beside other fashion elites such as the Birkin Bag, Wonderbra, a pair of Levis 501 jeans dating back to the 1940s, and an assortment of little black dresses.

    Famous People Wearing Aran Sweaters

    Aran Sweater that made it into Vogue in 1956

    The patterns of our famous Irish Aran Sweater made it into Vogue in 1956 and like that, its popularity went from strength to strength.

    The Clancy Brothers

    the clancy brothers

    The made Aran sweaters cool in the States and brought it back to life in Ireland!! The Irish folk band were over in USA touring when a particularly cold spell hit New York. The Clancy Brothers mum send them over Aran Sweaters that they wore live on the Ed Sullivan Show this gave fisherman sweaters a big boost in popularity! They were famed for wearing the infamous Irish sweater each time they performed making it their trademark!

    Actors

    Actors such as Steve McQueen, Marilyn Monroe, and Grace Kelly were seen as notable wearers, and it continues to attract much attention from celebrities today. Its unique design and Irish heritage make it a mainstay in popular culture, ensuring it will never be forgotten.

    In recent times, we have seen even more celebrities rock our beloved Irish aran sweater such as Alexa Chung, Sarah Jessica Parker, Rob Patterson, Kate Bosworth and Gwyneth Paltrow to name a few.

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