Sheep Wool Traditions and Practices Event during National Heritage Week 2023
Thank you so much to all who came to support our presentation and demonstration on wool spinning and sheep traditions.
The rare footage of the sheep gathering on Mweelrea mountain in the 1960s evoked much conversations around the Meitheal of many farmers coming together to gather all of the sheep and then sort them in the unique pens that are on the side of Mweelrea. This Meitheal still exists today and while the numbers of sheep on the mountains have reduced the practices of neighbour helping neighbour is very much alive.
It was lovely to look back on video footage of Beecie Morrison which was filmed in 1970s by David & Sally Shaw Smith for the HANDS series. We welcomed Mary B. Davitt, Beccie’s daughter who demonstrated on the original big wheel how to spin the raw wool. We also had Sharla Greenway from Louisburgh Community TV and her documentary on the shearing of the sheep to the knitted final jumper. The Louisburgh Area Men’s Shed are keen to revive the old traditions that are almost forgotten now. They are also interested in learning the process of wool spinning, a skill that was traditionally a woman’s role.
On the night we also had video and photographers from the National Heritage Council documenting the event.
In addition to the 200-year-old big spinning wheel on display we had a modern foot spinning, an Ashwood spinner, some “cards” and implements for using in the techniques surrounding the wool spinning. We were delighted to have Mary B.’s handmade fine crocheted wedding dress on display too.
We were then treated to a basket making demonstration by Billy Gallagher. Billy uses straw to twist and weave together to make a hen’s nest. This practice of using local materials to make practical household products.
The evening was finished on a high with music and song from locals who entertained us into the small hours.
Special thanks to all who demonstrated on the night and supported our event. Thank you to Melissa in Curiosity Westport for her support with the props on the night.