The story of Irish linen is a story of the Irish people. Many thousands of men and women made Irish linen a global product and an international brand. It is also a story of innovation and opportunity. Irish linen has served its makers as sail cloth of incredible strength and durability for world exploration; it has functioned as watertight containers for farmers and firemen; it has soothed the brows of royalty and absorbed the sweat of the working class. As outerwear and underwear, linen has covered the bodies of men, women, and children from birth to death--the rich and powerful, poor and pitiful alike.
Into this cultural history, Kathleen Curtis Wilson weaves personal narratives, giving the story a voice: words and songs of individual spinners, factory workers, and out-workers like Sarah McCabe, who created fabulous linen lace; Sarah Leech, who wrote poetry as she spun fine thread; the three Patterson women, who worked in Mossley Mill for a total of one hundred years; and the Herdman brothers, who settled in County Tyrone to build a mill and a utopian community.
Lavishly illustrated and engagingly written, each chapter tells of art, social and economic history, design, architecture, technology, and cultural traditions that celebrate the industry of making linen, a highly useful and desirable commodity that helped transport Irish people across the Atlantic to influence the settling of North America.