“The aiding and developing of spinning, weaving, knitting, and other industrial handicrafts must be recognised, even after a little reflection, as being the most difficult duty entrusted to the Board… There is not the same demand now as there used to be… Hand-knitting, spinning and weaving are still carried out, but only for home use and by the passing generation… The younger people generally don’t approve of (the homespun flannel or tweed) and only those who cannot afford to buy cloth use it… The trade has suffered a great deal from the machine-made work.”
I found it difficult to find out much more about Micks, nevermind a picture of the man whose opinion this was, although it seems that he is figuring prominently in the PhD thesis of Sean Beattie at the University of Ulster. Beattie also maintains this page on the history of Donegal, which is full of interesting things!
This excerpt begs the question – if people weren’t making a living from craft production, then what were they doing for money? I’m looking forward to delving into the census to find the answer to this question! It’s also interesting that this ‘aiding and developing’ effort would be mirrored forty and fifty years later by the Irish Countrywomen’s Association, and fifty years after that again (so… today, then!) by the Crafts Council of Ireland. Is craft production something we must always battle to ‘aid and develop’?