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To celebrate St. Patrick’s Day we’d like to bring your attention to one of Ireland’s more famous textile: The Donegal Carpet.

The Donegal Carpet Company began in 1898 boasting the largest carpet loom in the world. Founder, Alexander Morton didn’t like the industrial direction the carpet industry was heading and wanted to return to more traditional methods. He employed 300-400 women from the surrounding areas of Killybegs to hand-knot carpets in his shop.

Killybegs Harbour

Killybegs Harbour

This was a great boost to the economy as there were few industries hiring women at that time. The women who were hired were usually former embroiderers, lace makers and seamstresses with skills passed down through the generations.  They had great attention to detail and the ability to match colours and follow intricate patterns. The wool was collected from local sheep which produced fleeces that were revered for their high durability and softness.

Donegal Factory

Interesting link to Canada:

The Donegal Carpet Factory’s infamously massive loom comes from great Canadian pine trees and measure up to CanPine40 feet long. The same looms that once produced carpets for Queen Victoria over a century ago are still there today.

 

By 1906, the Donegal Carpet Company was well-known for their high quality, hand-crafted products throughout Europe. They received orders from many prestigious addresses such as Buckingham Palace, the White House, the Vatican and Upper Canada’s Government House in Rosedale, Toronto (Now Chorley Park).

Chorley Park from the air circa 1930– Government House, Rosedale Toronto 1930

Five rugs were even ordered by King Edward to be used on the Royal Yacht. The largest Donegal carpet ever made was for Belfast City Hall and measures 107’ feet by 46.6’ feet!

President McAleese and Queen Elizabeth II walking on a Donegal carpet.

President McAleese and Queen Elizabeth II walking on a Donegal carpet.

When looking at Donegal rugs for purchase, you will notice bright, vibrant colours and bold, contemporary styles. These rugs have always been popular among interior designers and fashion-conscious home owners. Donegals express elements from Art Nouveau and Arts and Crafts and are inspired by intricate Celtic and Oriental patterns. They are so well made they can be passed down through generations for all to appreciate their fine Irish craftsmanship.

If you ever get the chance to visit Ireland, go to the Maritime & Heritage Centre in Killybegs where you can watch smaller carpets being made and try your hand at making a knot.

You can visit our Showroom to see our selection of Donegal rugs available for purchase or click here check them out online.

Antique Donegal Rug circa 1910, 4'x8' (Turco Persian Collection)

Antique Donegal Rug circa 1910, 4’x8′ (Turco Persian Collection)

Photo of Loom From: welovedonegalblog.blogspot.ca