Irish sweater

An Irish sweater - Guide
An Irish sweater - Guide

The Irish sweater is one of the many souvenirs that visitors who spent a few days in Ireland often take back home. Much more than a simple souvenir, the Irish sweaters herald new wool and peat moss, and offer a wonderful way to stay bundle up warm ! A pleasant gift idea in pure wool which will help you go through winter, with all the very own warmth of Irish people !

History of the irih sweater…

The Aran sweater: a traditionnal garment formery worn by the irih fishermen and inhabitants of the Aran Islands

With a thick and raw wool, a round neck and a very tight mesh, the Irish sweater was originally the garment once worn by the inhabitants of the Aran Islands (on Inishmore, Inishmaan and Inisheer), and by the fishermen, to protect themselves from the cold and humidity when they were at sea.
It must be said that this sweater has some fascinating attributes, which make it an ideal item of clothing against the cold ! Thus, the Irish sweater has the distinctive characteristic of being able to absorb up to 30% of its weight in moisture, before you even start to feel it. A super power that the textile industry is still isn’t capable of competing with, even with their innovating processes !

The traditional craftsmanship techniques of the time thus made of it a perfectly suited sweater to move through difficult environments, especially at sea when fishermen had to bring back fish to their families. Warm, comfortable, easy for wide movements, it was an ideal non-chill and anti-humidity barrier !

In terms of manufacturing, the Aran sweater has always been handmade. Its wool was then taken on Irish sheep, precisely raise within the Aran Islands. These sheep had the reputation of having an unmatched quality of wool ! Warm, soft and thick : this quality was due to the local grass which was very exposed to sea winds ; its mineral contents made of it a raw wool with exceptional attributes !

This wool was then spun and hand knitted by the women living on the Aran Islands. As a side note, the knitted stitches (sometimes cable stitch, sometimes in other more or less complicated patterns) then helped distinguish the different fishermen families, just like a coat of arms. A practice which reminds us the kilt and its familial tartan one for Scotland !

Buy an Aran sweater

An expensive garment of primordial quality !

Nowadays, the Irish sweater is a highly acclaimed in Ireland and has become a staple for visitors.
Formerly only used by the inhabitants of the Aran Islands, the sweater gradually became popular and became a luxury item.
Known for the exceptional quality of its wool (always pure wool, otherwise it’s not a real Aran sweater), people pay through the nose for this garment which even became a “fashion” clothing. This fame is due to numerous celebrities (like the famous Steve McQueen) who have been seen wearing them in their everyday life.

Therefore, count on 80€ int specialized shops in Ireland to find a high-quality Irish sweater. (Even if the prize seems quite high, sellers will justify it by reminding you that it’s a pure and raw wool, that it to say a really expensive matter. Take it as a read ! The price can even soar and reach more than around a hundred euros !)

Most of the time, the latter are proposed in ecru tones, the natural color of the Aran sweater. Nevertheless, some shops sell them in different coloring, ranging from navy blue to green… As for the cuts, they have also evolved, from the simple and straight sweater (round or V-neck), to the cardigan, via the button-up cardigan, fitted jacket…etc.
There is something to suits all tastes en all fashions!

Note that there are designs for men and women. It’s all about choice, originality and elegance.
Do not forget to try it before: it’s really necessary to be comfortable in this kind of clothes ! (However; note that the Irish sweater is made for people appreciating handmade products : the wool somewhat smells. It’s part of the appeal when we use a product of such quality, in pure wool from the Aran Islands !).

If you want to buy your own Irish sweater, we advise you to visit the big specialized shops in Ireland. On can find them all over the country, either in large or small cities… These shops are often touristic chains, or more specialized in the selling of traditional Irish clothing…

The staff is generally particularly welcoming and will surely advise you to choose your future Irish sweater !

For French people who can’t immediately travel to Ireland, note that it’s also possible to buy an Irish sweater in France, in specialized shops (as Le Comptoir Irlandais) or when ordering online (many Irish shops have a website offering the shipping of their products). Expect an equal price for its purchase, with an additional ten euros for the shipping.

Finally, for smaller budgets, know that you can find sweaters of inferior quality in touristic shops like Carrol’s Irish Gift. Those are really good sweaters, but they will only cost you 30 to 40€ max. The quality is certainly lower but it remains a nice souvenir to take home !