Weaving in the Liberties 17th century !

 As I sit here in my studio in the Liberties, with loom and peddes resting, my mind wanders back to this area over 400 years ago, when textile managers where riding around on horseback, visiting the homes of weavers in their 'Dutch BIlly' Houses, inspecting the quality of their weaving.  At one time, there were 3,400 looms clanking away, with 1,200 producing ' Poplin'.  Poplin is a very detailed type of weave that was created on the Jacquard Loom, with a highly densed silk warp and a weft of homespun worsted wool.  What is fascinating about this type of weave is that beacuse the warp was so highly densed, the fact that wool was used in the weave was hidden.  Why is this so important? In 1699, under the Woollen Act, the production and exportation of Irish woolen produce was forbidden, except to English plantations, with taxes so extraordinarily high, it was not worth one's while.  However, commerce continued and the Irish smuggled woolen produce from the caves and coves along the coast to Europe, especially to France, who regarded Irish wool and products with high regard.

The main weavers in the Liberties, were the Huguenots, Calvinist Protestant refugees from France, a grand total of 10,000 integrated into Irish society during the 17th, 18 th centuries.  The Huguenots were known to be highly skilled crafts people.  This hub of activity spread from the Tenter Fields (if you walk down the side of Fallon's pub, you are getting into the area), where large pieces of fabric were hung out to dry.  Weaver's Square was another location of weaving activity and creativity, as well as many homes where waevers worked and resided.  The Weaver's Hall of 1682, was reconstructed in 1745.  THe clanking of the looms continued in the Liberties, from Pimplico to Sweeney's Lane, with the Elliots being the last surviving weavers until as recent as 1965.

The Liberties has huge cultural history, was an area of huge production, creativity and activity, with highly skilled individuals working away to 6/8 rhythm of the loom!
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