Irish Linen: Woven with Tradition

Irish linen is a fabric made from a humble flax seed. The plant fibre is spun in to a yarn, which is then woven in to a linen cloth. It is a historically Irish fabric, which is still popular today.
Thomas Ferguson Mill
Thomas Ferguson Mill

The History

The history of linen-making in Ireland starts in the 16th century, where it was the main fabric for both men and women’s clothing. Until recently, the flax plant was grown in Ireland, so there was an abundance of it to make clothing from, as well as other items such as household interiors. In the early days some people dyed the linen fabric with spices such as Saffron. It is said that they dyed the fabric not to be fashionable, but to hide the dirt so it didn’t have to be washed.

During the 1st and 2nd World Wars linen was used for the civil defence services and armed forces, covering various parts of the planes, canvases for the Royal Navy, parachutes and wing covers for the RAF. Because of this, civilians suffered with a lack of linen supplies for themselves, so they had to make do without.

Linen Making Today

Flax was grown in Ireland for years, particularly in the North of Ireland. However, by the 1960’s, Northern European countries such as France and Belgium were deemed a more suitable location in which to grow the crop due to their climate. Nowadays, flax is imported into Ireland where it is bought by spinners in Ireland, who then sell the yarn to weavers, who go on to produce the linen fabric. Although the flax plant is grown abroad, we can still consider the linen to be Irish as we take into consideration the skills, craftsmanship and technology of the spinners and weavers, who are based in Ireland, that produce it.

Thomas Ferguson Mill
Thomas Ferguson Mill

Thomas Ferguson & Co Ltd

Thomas Ferguson caters to the quality-end of the market with its Irish linen, offering specialized and bespoke linens. Based in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Thomas Ferguson has been weaving Irish linen since 1854. Thomas Ferguson is a proud member of the Irish Linen Guild. It is the last remaining established Irish linen Jacquard weavers in Ireland today.  Blarney Woollen Mills is proud to stock such an historic brand in it’s stores and online.


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