Red Aran cardigan
Red Aran cardigan. NMI Collections F1937.48CRed Aran cardigan. NMI Collections F1937.48C
The Aran jumper is famous all over the world. From the 1960s, there was a huge marketing effort to export this hand-knit to America and worldwide. This popularity was driven in part, by the traditional Irish musicians the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Mackem who wore them on stage and on TV. Since then through to today, famous actors and singers have worn this iconic fashion item.Knitting was encouraged in the 1890s by the Congested Districts Board and the jumper evolved from the simple fisherman’s knitted jumpers with cable designs. The stitches evolved from patterns and connections to jumpers worn by Scottish and Channel Island fisherman. The word ‘jersey’ and the Irish word geansaí illustrate this connection.
This stunning red cardigan was knitted in 1937 for the National Museum and shows the skill of the knitters on the Aran Islands. ‘Blackberry’, ‘diamond’ and ‘sheaf of wheat’ are among the stiches used. It is a creation in wool of the fancy fabric bodices that would have been on sale in the shops of Galway city.