Eddie Doherty from Ardara, is part of a group of quality artisans based in Donegal, who is gaining world wide reputation for his expertise in Donegal design. This is his story.
‘I have lived in Ardara since I was two years old. Ardara was always a handweaving area and when I was a child I would go in to a shed where a few weavers worked and eventually I would be filling bobbins for them and I would get a few pence at the end of the week. When I left school I went in to a local factory owned by a Molloy man and I learned all about the weaving there. All young men leaving school in those years, the late 1950’s did the same – unless they were in a position to go to boarding school – and they stayed in the factory until they were old enough to emigrate.
I stayed with the weaving and later worked for Magee of Donegal. They had a number of weavers in the area who worked in their own homes. Magees lorry came to the village twice a week delivering and picking up the finished webs. I worked for them for a number of years and then I gave it up to work in the family pub. Later on I began making pieces myself and selling them to shops. I did this part time. From that I would often get asked to make orders for people such as material for curtains etc.
Eventually sometime in the 1980’s I opened a small shop at the back of the pub and I sold from there. Later I acquired premises on the main street and I have the loom there and people can see the weaving being done. I make throws and lengths of tweed. I have a seamstress employed part time and she makes waistcoats, ladies capes, shawls, wraps etc. and I also get men’s caps made. I am kept busy and I enjoy what I am doing.
Weaving was always a tradition in this part of Donegal and in the early part of the 1900’s the men would take the wool of the sheep, the women would in some cases dye the wool and make it into thread and then the men made pieces of cloth which in those days they called “homespun”. They would then take it to the market on market day and buyers came from Donegal town and purchased it.
At the moment there is a renewed interest in tweed and I have been commissioned to weave special order throws for hotels alongside my other work.’