My inter-library-loan of this book finally came through, hurrah! I wasn’t sure what to expect, since the topic in the title is a pretty gigantic one. There isn’t as much in this to help me out as I thought there might be. This probably shouldn’t be surprising, since it’s not a textiles-oriented book. It is written, refreshingly, from a perspective that evaluates ‘women’s work’ in a constructive and respectful way, so textiles do get a mention or two. I thought it may have more information on the surveys as a primary document in and of themselves, but this is not really the case. What the book really is, is a series of chapters that extrapolate the evidence provided by the surveys in a series of themes, and these are mostly industrial themes (eg agriculture, maritime etc).
The second chapter, ‘Industries’, begins with some great summaries of the textile work that was going on, but there isn’t anything that vastly differs from the analysis provided in Mitchell’s book.
There are some interesting photographs in the middle section, including this one of a pier in Donegal in 1914 which I think shows a woman knitting on long double-pointed needles while she stands and chats outside. What do you think?
Lastly, this map from the back of the book shows just how tiny an area these CDB reports are giving us evidence from. Good to have as a reminder, really! Textile tradition and innovation was being practiced all over Ireland, not just in isolated areas that happened to be surveyed a century ago.