Donegal Socks: Just For Men

(Dooey Cove, Rosguill Peninsula, Co. Donegal, c. 1936)

Townsend Gahan reported from Rosguill on the 1st of September 1892.

“Trousers and Sunday suits of the men are almost always bright. The vests, shirts and drawers etc are home-made flannel or tweed; the socks are knitted at home. The petticoats and vests worn by the women are home-made, and sometimes the dresses of the older women. The dresses of the younger women are almost invariably of bought stuffs, made either by themselves or by the local dressmakers…

The men and women are fond of bright colours, red and blue being the favourites. The women generally go bare-footed, except when going to market or to chapel, when the boots are carried in the hands until nearing the village or chapel, when they are put on, and taken off at the same place going home…

The Sunday shirt is always bought and is white or some fancy check or stripe; 3s or 3s 6d is generally paid for one of these shirts. The Sunday coat and trousers when too bad for Sunday wear are used on weekdays. A good many, both men and women, obtain garments at a very low price from the itinerant clothes vendors, who attend the different fairs.”


Does this imply that knitted socks were mostly Just For Men? Also, Gahan didn’t use a pronoun when describing just who was doing the knitting. And I wonder were these socks red and/or blue? Interrrresting!

Another thing to remember here is that we have all this info about Donegal, not because it was particularly a hub of activity, but because Gahan was the one commissioned to survey it, and he had a strong personal interest in textiles.

I’ve managed to get my hands on Breathnach’s The Congested Districts Board of Ireland, 1891-1923 : poverty and development in the west of Ireland via inter library loan. Very excited to delve into this. At first glance though – not that much textile history :/ Still! We shall press on!

This entry was posted in colour, congested districts board, donegal, knitting, socks, townsend gahan. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Donegal Socks: Just For Men

  1. knitinc says:

    oh interesting, it does sound like the socks were only for the men >:/
    I wonder though, did they knit them also??

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