Ardara in Donegal

Today we drove to the village of Ardara in Donegal, which this year won the Irish Times – Ireland’s best village to live in. It’s beautiful, in an amazing setting & has some of the friendlest people you’re ever likely to meet – two thousand people and thirteen pubs.

Ardara is famous for its music festivals & there are plenty of visitors, as but unlike many other places the town doesn’t organise itself around tourists, it’s a thriving community for visitors to enjoy rather than a tourist attraction.

The Grannies were keen to visit Eddie Doherty as they had heard that Sarah Jessica Parker (Sex in the City) buys tweed from him. Eddie is one of the last independent hand loom weavers in Ireland, his tiny shop is a treasure of colourful handwoven tweed & he was busy at his loom in the back of the shop when we arrived.

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Tweed part of Donegal’s social fabric

ARDARA, Ireland — Eddie Doherty’s hands dart about at a dizzying rate, feeding the warp and the woof into his loom, a clattering device of wood, springs, shuttles and knotted ropes.

The machine looks as if it should be in a museum. And it may well be heading that way, for hand looms are being overtaken by weaving factories even here in Ardara, the cradle of the tweed industry in Ireland.

“I’m a dying breed,” Doherty, 73, admits.

But for the moment he, and a few others here in this western Donegal village (population: 600) will continue the centuries-old hand-weaving tradition, making fabric for the likes of Armani, Burberry and Ralph Lauren.

“Yes, there are synthetic ‘tweeds,'” says Doherty, “but once you’ve had hand-woven tweed you wouldn’t have anything else.”