Posts Tagged With: Tapestry Weaving workshop in Ireland

Straw Boys, and Why Take a Small Group Tour?

R1- 9AHaving led small group tours for nearly 18 years, I think it is important to point out the value of traveling this way. When I first began traveling in Mexico, then Europe, what was so powerful was meeting local people, engaging in conversation (though my Spanish left a lot to be desired!), and feeling as if I had a glimpse into that person’s life, art JOM 1st scan 013and family. As my research and travel increased in Ireland, I sought out local guides who showed me places I never would have known about, and heard stories, folklore and mythology that brought those places so alive.

On a trip to Oaxaca in Mexico, we were staying in a small village and heard music, big brass instruments, coming down the road. Soon we realized this was a funeral procession, and we were invited to join it and proceed to the cemetery. Under a full moon rising from behind the mountains, a magical evening unfolded as we listened to the band, heard the priest incant blessings, and took sips of the local drink, “mescal”, that was passed to all. We were treated as honored guests and it made an indelible impression upon every one of us.

Another example, on one of our cultural tours to Ireland, my friend and one of our guides, Joe McGowan,  organized an evening with the “Straw Boys”. Dating back for decades, the tradition of the Straw boys is rich. Basically a group would create costumes disguising themselves, just of straw, and go from door to door asking for “refreshment”, or 101_0103-001raising mischief one way or another. This evolved into a group today, near Sligo, who still reenact the tradition which now includes women. We were so fortunate to be invited to a costume creating session, learning how to weave the straw into skirts and headpieces. After a light supper, I thought the evening would end, but no! The room was swept up, chairs and tables pushed back, a fiddle or two came out, and soon there was singing, dancing and great fun!




Often with our tours, these special events and encounters happen because we are a small group, we are approachable and a common bond of humanity is there. Having shared so many special times in cultural travel , it is my hope to share such things with our clients.

101_0108 (2) Real people, real adventures, and real experiences make our tours unique! Please join us if this is the kind of travel experience you are looking for!

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A glimpse of the Ireland fiber art tour

On our Fiber Arts in Ireland tour n June 2016, Margaret Cunningham will be one of our instructors while we stay in Donegal. And we will be staying near this beautiful place, Slieve League (or Sliabh Liag in Irish), in the video, sure to inspire the art and soul! In this video we can hear her tell of the inspiration of the landscape, and the Sliabh Liag cliffs and the fairies keeping children from exploring the dangerous spots. Margaret is an excellent tapestry artist, fine musician, and manages the Glencolmcille Folk Village. Take a glimpse of the rugged coast and beautiful area in which we will be staying and making fiber art! The video can be viewed here:

See all the details for the trip in the brochure Fiber art tour to Ireland

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Fiber art on the Aran Islands

A traditional doll from the Aran Islands

This is an interesting article via Irish Archaeology about an Aran Islands doll. For artists and fiber artists, it offers a glimpse into the simplest of ways to create with what you have…

On our tours we often visit the Aran Islands, a place of magic and mystery, old stone forts and fields separated with stones brought from the sea.

Doll from Aran Islands

This beautiful little doll comes from Inisheer on the Aran Islands. In 1939 it was handed into the folklore collections of theNational Museum of Ireland, where it is now stored in Castlebar, Co. Mayo. Simply made, the body of the doll is fashioned from a single piece of timber, most likely driftwood, that was roughly shaped. Eyes are provided by two iron tacks/nails, which are hammered into the ‘face’. The doll is dressed  in a colourful woollen head-scarf, shawl and felt dress that mirrors Aran Island clothing of the 1930s (see image below). Although rudimentary in nature, it is not hard to imagine how this small doll was once a much loved toy.

doll folklore


Irish doll




Aran islanders

by on October 6, 2015 in Archaeology blogs, Irish treasures

Categories: Fiber art tours, Ireland | Tags: , , , , , ,

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