Ireland's west cost is somewhat of a magical place for us. We spent our childhood sailing and exploring Connemara’s craggy coast. It is a favourite place of ours, a wild rugged beauty that changes its mood with the ever-advancing weather. Just off this coastline scattered across the mouth of Galway bay one can find the three Aran Islands, raw slabs of terraced limestone. The islands are home to a vibrant and unique culture influenced by the remote wildness of the landscape and the spirit and determination of the people who live in it. The mysterious middle island is called Inis Meáin.
It is home to one of the worlds most impressive knitwear companies that holds tight to a bare weather beaten rock. The Inis Meáin Knitting Company slowly brought a delicate modern twist on the centuries old craft, which was born out of necessity. Fishermen battling the harsh Atlantic elements depended on the skills and dexterity of the Island women to create garments, which would stand the test of time.
Today Inis Meáin Knitting Company produces the highest quality handmade garments based on the traditional patterns and methods developed by generations of islanders. Classic patterns updated with luxury yarns such as cashmere, baby alpaca, linen and silk. They pride themselves in producing the highest quality hand knitted garments. It is not so much a business but as like all the best practices, it is a way of life.
Colm Toibin wrote this about the Island when introducing a book by Artist Sean Scully. “Once in a shop in Galway the owner showed me a pullover made there. It was knitted in the traditional Aran style with much elaborate patterning, but it was made from alpaca wool. It was expensive and utterly beautiful. It bore the label Inis Meáin and suggested that change there was being forged with flair and originality. It added to the mystery of the middle island.”
It is a long time since we have ventured out to the islands but we will do so soon. There are some very special jumpers we need to collect in September.