Sunday, March 9, 2008

Traditional Irish Clothing

In the fifteenth century Henry VIII passed laws in Ireland forbidding the traditional Celtic garb of the people. There were many reasons for such prohibitions; breaking the spirit and sense of unity of the Irish by destroying their culture certainly was one. The Irish manner of dressing was adapted as much as possible to the English way so that most of the trademarks of the ancient attire slipped into oblivion. Scholars have done some amazing research and discovered the traits of the antique Irish costume, many of which would seem as outlandish to us as to the English invaders of past centuries.

Irish women wore a sort of linen headdress like a turban; they did not wear corsets, and so the English described them as being immodest. Married women always covered their heads but young, unmarried girls let their hair flow loose. Men had long braided hair, which was strictly forbidden by the English. Men and women wore voluminous linen shirts or tunics called leine, often dyed yellow in saffron. The linen shirts had full, flowing, often pleated sleeves. Men wore wool trousers called trews. Women wore long gowns over the leines. Both genders wore mantles or cloaks called brats. The color and quality of the fabric often depended upon the individual's wealth and/or social standing. In spite of the proscriptions, the Irish culture was not destroyed, and most importantly, the Catholic faith of the people survived for many generations. Share