The Heritage and Backstory Woven into Donegal Tweed

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A Donegal Tweed Weaver at work.

A Donegal Tweed Weaver at work. 

As part of an intricate family vocation, the beauty of Donegal tweed has been manufactured for centuries. Originally woven to make caps and suits, the famously Irish weave has been part of a historical movement with the sports coat and synonymous tweed jacket. 

Even if we simply look at the Donegal tweed origin, considering Ulster, County Donegal and the town after which it is named, we see a love and connection with nature that is next to none. Something carried into every fibre of the Donegal tweed fabric. Roughly translated from Latin to English, the motto of Donegal is to; ‘Have love for one another’. 

What Makes Donegal Tweed Special? 

The differences of Donegal tweed that set it out from the crowd is the careful use of vibrant colors that emulate the local valleys. From the purple heathers to the luscious green grass. And, the way each of these colors are yielded form the Donegal roaming sheep and spun to make wool with every hue. While some may take precedence for a pattern, they’re all there to bring together the harmony of nature. 

The distinct feel and look of the Donegal tweed fabric is made using a specific technique where yarn or the various natural colors are woven into the fabric at irregular intervals. This produces a ‘heathered’ effect that is unmistakable with the elegance of a tweed sports jacket manufactured in the heart of the Irish Donegal County. 

Donegal Tweed and its Sporting History 

The history of tweed boasts an authentic foundation where ancestors in the Irish hills began weaving tweed to make a durable, comfortable and warming fabric. But, it also created a waterproof layer, invaluable in the sporting arena, too. 

Within a Victorian era-society, the handcrafted Donegal tweed became a staple to making the sports coat. A comfortable addition to most local Irish and overseas English noblemen. 

From golfing to cycling and from hunting to mountain walking, you could expect to see the iconic Donegal tweed sports coats being worn. 

A Long-Established Family Craft 

Donegal tweed is not simply a family tradition of weaving passed through generations or us, it is a task passed through generations for the Irish sheep that live in the Donegal valleys. 

Historically, Donegal tweed was first woven by the fishermen of Donegal and their families hundreds of years ago. Originally weavers yielded 30 daily yards, but with the British Government’s creation of the Congestion District Board (CDB) in the 1800 atop the manufacture of the fly shuttle and The Royal Linen Manufacturers of Ulster donating looms to Donegal homesteads, things sped up, in the aims of aiding poverty.


Of course, not all families in the famous Donegal tweed making industry adopted all the new machines and automatic looms. There were still many families nestled within Donegal who continued to provide authentic handcrafted Irish tweed of the highest standard. Such as Triona Design. 

The Mulhern’s Triona Design 

Tucked in the town of Ardara, Triona Design incorporates heritage and style in their cottage of experienced hand-crafters. With the fifth-generation weaver, Dennis Mulhern, at the helm of the factory, his expertise is incomparable. 

Each of the Triona Design garments is carefully crafted to the highest standard to ensure the style, fit, color and soft wool texture of any tweed jacket or other garment is perfect. 

Today Triona stock a multitude of tweed capes, tweed jackets, sports jackets, tweed sports coats, wool scarves, waistcoats and more for the men and women wanting to wear the classic elegance and rich heritage of Donegal tweed. 

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