Despite what is popularly thought, the Irish Aran Sweater or Geansai is not a local creation. The cable patterns are not handed down from generation and generation to a time dating back to Finn MaCool nor is it something that St Patrick tried to teach them. This view of the sweater as a cultural icon is a creation in terms of its age. However it should be said that the sweaters were a vital part of the Aran islands and its history and have had a huge impact on the Country and its culture.
The Geansai or Gansey comes to the Islands from the Channel Islands. It was a design that the Congested Districts board felt could work well for the islanders so that convinced the normally reticent Guernsey islanders to show them. This happened in 1890 onwards. So far so true, what’s also correct is that the super creative women of Aran take the designs and make them their own with naturally Celtic designs.
Enter one Heinz Edgar Kiewe. He was a yarn shop owner who saw that there was a solid marketing and advertising campaign to be created out of this work. He was also working on a book called The History of Knitting and needed an angle. He assumed that the knots were of an ancient origin and immediately started to draw a religious connection to them dating back to St Patrick. This view has been debunked but the myth is usually nicer and more mysterious than the truth so its stuck. Regardless where they came from great Mens Aran Sweaters can be had from Shamrock Gift.
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