Weaving Tapestry in Rural Ireland: Taipeis Gael, Donegal

Breathing new life into an ancient craft, Taipeis Gael tapestry weavers’ mission is to weave a future from their rich cultural heritage. This collection of contemporary textiles, photographs, and personal essays explores how young artists in Gleanncolmcille, Donegal, Ireland, with the help of elder mentors from their village, formed a weaving cooperative called, Taipeis Gael.

Taipeis Gael contributes to the preservation of regional culture in the Gaeltacht, the Irish-speaking sections of western Ireland. The weavers believe their work is of importance because “large chunks of our cultural heritage have been lost with the passing of just one generation.

Traditional methods of wool production are presented in this book along with folklore, myth and local archaeology which influences the weavers’ practices, tapestry design, self-perceptions and identities as artists and mentors within their communities. Also included is a documentation of the natural materials–plants and sea life–that their ancestors used in dye recipes for the yarns in their sweaters and tweed.

 

Cork University Press

200 pages

ISBN 13: 978-0-9535353-3-0

 

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Dufour Editions, Inc. (US Distributor of Irish Books)

Praise for Weaving Tapestry in Rural Ireland

“An exceptionally successful celebration of a co-op industry started in1993 which operates in the Donegal Gaeltacht…This fine book may perhaps be instrumental in ensuring that the work goes on. It is very well organised and edited, and the photographs are delightful.”

—Books Ireland

 

A beautiful book called Weaving Tapestry in Rural Ireland, written by Meghan Nuttall Sayers, an American weaver of Irish origin, is an extensive and loving tribute to the work of Taipeis Gael in Donegal… There are moving interviews with some of the founders and local historians, and profiles of each of the weavers and their work…The book is handsomely illustrated with photographs by Laurence Boland.

— Irish Times magazine

 

THE APPEARANCE OF THIS BOOK owes as much to the author’s interest in weaving, harvesting and dyeing yam as to her desire to explore how an ancient craft could be employed in an innovative way to bring fulfillment and renewal to a rural community. With the assistance of local mentors, a group of Irish tapestry weavers most of whom were Irish speakers–came together in 1993 to form a cooperative called Taipeis Gael (Gaelic Tapestries). The author’s account of the cooperative and its work can stand on its own as an excellent documentary and instructional source, but it is also our good fortune that Sayres has taken what could have easily been a mundane academic treatise and produced an artistically stunning volume as socially compelling as it is historically meticulous.

—Meglena Z. Miltcheva, College of Charleston, S.C., Department of     Irish Studies

 

“Meghan Nuttall Sayres Weaving Tapestry in Rural Ireland charts the evolution of one community’s endeavor to honor and to sustain the traditions of Glencolmcille, County Donegal. Through an ethnographic mapping of individual lives and histories that contribute to the foundation and sustenance of the weavers’ cooperative Taipeis Gael, Sayres engages in a project of both storytelling and listening; she never allows her own voice or perspective to silence the tale.”

 

—Christine Cusick, author of Out of the Earth: Ecocritical Readings of Irish Texts. Read her full review of Weaving Tapestry in New Hibernia Review, Spring 2009.