Craft Dreams Bloomed in Father’s Head

IMG_20200122_194609_646My parents became accidental textile entrepreneurs after a hitch-hike holiday to Donegal in 1950. Hand weaving remains an important part of my family myth and life…

Image by Brian Gallagher

In background some colours my mother once designed.


In far-flung corrugated country shed

craft dreams bloomed in father’s head;

there, wooden loom-bench rocked creaking,

industrious shuttles, excitedly speaking,

box-chambered energy expelled with speed,

shiny bullet-nosed boats, harvesting tweed.

Weft clasped warp in organic embrace,

sweat glazed idealist, bespectacled face,

plank pedals foot-pumped up-and-down,

he paused, found flaws, critically frowned;

so, halted that backbeat, persistent percussion,

problems solved through design discussion.

My father wove mother’s sun-lit hues,

spun wool fibres, rural colours infused;

both creators confounded the frugal Fifties,

later exporting garments to European cities;

blessed be artistic brains and crafting hands:

married seers searching promised lands.

On the end of my boarding school bed

lay folded mohair blanket, vivid orange-red,

waiting to warm dorm wintry nights,

fluffy mohair cocooned me, feathery light;

Hemmings name-tape in corner sewed,

fifty years on that heirloom still owned.


In February 2020, I was fortunate enough to experience a weaving week with Brenda Hewitt of Gortahork, Donegal.

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