We recently returned from a trip to Ireland, and as we were travelling around I tried to find all the traditional Irish crafts. Alas, it turns out that there aren't many things made in Ireland anymore! We went to a former flax mill, now a museum, and saw how linen is made from flax, but they told us that there is no linen made in Ireland anymore. Anything that says "Irish linen" means that the linen was imported and then made into some product (like a tablecloth) in Ireland. We went to one of the areas where they used to make the Irish fisherman knit sweaters, but saw very few hand knits. There were some beautiful machine knit things, though. And I learned that all those sheep in Ireland are for pork chops, not for wool! Apparently they don't make wool yarn in Ireland anymore either. Even Waterford crystal is blown in Eastern Europe and only the decorative cutting is done in Ireland. Nevertheless, we persevered, and found that there is still traditional weaving being done in Avoca, where there is a weaving factory that's been there for years. You can wander around the factory and see the whole operation. It's quite small, and they make some absolutely gorgeous woven fabric and throws and scarves and things that you see for sale all around Ireland. There were about 6 of these hand looms with a man operating the loom, making throws or scarves. Yarn was being fed to the looms from this big rack holding 100's of huge spools of yarn. There was yarn everywhere, with piles of waste yarn all over the floor and fibers everywhere! It probably isn't a real healthy place to work! The weavers pull the shuttle back and forth by yanking on a cord hanging in front of them. Unfortunately, they didn't give any free samples.
In another room, they had the automated weaving machines that make the woven fabric. They make it into beautiful coats and suits and things. That room is very noisy, and it was fascinating to see the intricate plaids and other patterns being woven into fabric. It's all quite pricey. I was hoping to find some of the fabric or seconds or something for sale, but they only sold the finished products.