We continue our Creative Collaborations series this week with an artisan maker very close to home and close to our hearts. It is always a real joy to work with talented and passionate local makers but it's a particular pleasure to work with our friend Eddie Doherty and his wide Evelyn since the early days of our adventure
The term legend is much abused but in the case of Eddie Doherty it is very apt. While Donegal is the home of traditional tweed making in Ireland, Eddie is one of a small number of dedicated traditional weavers left who continue to make by hand rather than by machine. He started out as a teenager learning his craft and working for some of the larger heriatge brands before setting up his own workshop in the beautiful village of Ardara. Ardara is a picture-postcard village surrounding by the green hills and mountains where the sheep providing the necessary wool reside – as well as providing the inspiration for the flecked design palate of Donegal tweed.
Eddie was the first of the makers we engaged with when we began the process of designing the guest experince at Breac.House. Textiles, and in particular Donegal tweed, were always going to be an important part of the story. Tweed evokes a sense of warmth, comfort and belonging which was essential to our guest experience. More than any other material, it also connects guests to the colours and textures of the surrounding landcsape – providing an authentic context to what they are experiencing. The speckled green tweed material woven by Eddie for our sofa (in collaboration with furniture designer Simon O’Driscoll), is flecked with the array of colours which we look at every day and which changes throughout the years - the purple heather in Autumn, the yellow gorse in Spring, the red Summer and autumn berrries and of course the ever-changing all year round blues of the wild Atlantic. The aqua blue tweed throws and cushions in the bedrooms signify the colour of the sea whch guests wake up to in the morning as the sun rises over the water in the Eastern sky. Our grey tweed seating area in the living space is very much the grey of the beautiful Muckish mountain and the patchwork of ancient dry stone walls which can be seen from the house.
Eddis’s dedication to his traditional craft and his interest in supporting our project has been invaluable. More importantly, his continued commitment to the handweaving tradition, together with others such as Studio Donegal, has played a large part in the survival and indeed the recent revival in the tweed industry. For those looking for a deeper understanding of the the glory days of Donegal tweed and its historical context, its well worth looking at the award winning programmes Hands and In Good Hands produced by David Shaw Smith for RTE. These programmes give a fascinating insight into the people at the looms, their tradition and way of life.
For more on Eddie and his beautiful work see his website Handwoven Tweed