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The Galway Shawl

Though known as Galway Shawl (Seál na Gaillimhe in Irish) these heavy garments, worn by the women all over Ireland, were actually designed and manufactured in Paisley, Scotland. They were then shipped to the Galway Woollen Mills that added the fringe (scóga).
The pattern of the shawl and the way to have it on often identified the woman wearing it and her status: these items were expensive and therefore inherited or acquired by the bride-to-be. The women reserved them for special occasions and for Sunday Mass.
The shawls were square and worn folded over. The colours were those of natural wool, the tan being the most common, but the pattern of the decorations, as said, often was nearly unique.
Underneath this "good" garment, the women usually wore a lighter everyday shawl, which was generally hand-knit or crocheted
In 1952 the film "The Quiet Man" made the Galway shawl very popular. In this movie, Maureen O'Hara wears it in the scene of her talking to Micheleen, the matchmaker. This eye-catching garment was so charming that Maureen kept the shawl for herself after filming the movie.
The Galway Shawl has given the name to a romantic, old Irish ballad whose first lyrics are as follow:

At Oranmore in the county Galway One pleasant evening in the month's of May I spied a damsel; she was young and handsome Her beauty fairly took my breath away

She worn no jewels, nor costly diamonds No paint nor powder, no none at all But she worn a bonnet with ribbons on it And 'round her shoulders was the Galway shawl

Today these shawls are very rare, some of them are exhibited at the National Museum of Ireland-Country Life in Castlebar or jealously treasured in private collections by the families in the Gaeltacht. Some gorgeous examples are on display at Tigh Plunkett Pub in Sconce - Lettermore.

Traditional clothes of Aran women Catch of the day Aran islands Aran Islands Market day in Galway Sunday Mass in Claddagh -1970s Frame from The Quiet Man Frame from The Quiet Man Frame from The Quiet Man Frame from The Quiet Man Market day Gathering The fishermen return Country Life Museum Country Life Museum

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