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Explore Ireland: Avoca mill


You'd be excused for thinking that my very sporadic posting over this summer has been due to a packed social calendar or at the least a lovely exotic holiday or two. Not quite, but while it's been a bit damp and chilly here it's the first summer I've been able to go south of the border and visit my grandparents in Wexford and all the glamour that implies. The drive between Belfast and Wexford is a lovely long stretch of motorway, but if you head off the beaten (newly tarmac'd) path you can find this beautiful corner of the world...


If you're from round here you may know Avoca as a brand of gorgeous multicoloured throws, a cafe serving delicious cakes and healthy instagrammable lunches or as the wee village where Ballykissangel was filmed. Oh yes, it's all three. For anyone further afield, Avoca is a tiny pretty town in County Wicklow, about an hour's drive from Dublin, where Avoca Handweavers was founded in 1723. It's still a family-run business today, and most known for beautiful colourful throws, but since 1970's has branched out into accessories, homeware, beauty, food....!



Although there are 10 retails outlets / cafe's across Ireland, including one in Belfast, I had to see the original (still working!) mill, shop and cafe on the River Avoca. This was such an interesting experience, starting with a peek into the long history of Avoca Handweavers, including thoughtfully curated products, photos and letters from Buckingham Palace. From this small exhibition you dubiously follow the sign directing you up a few stairs for a wander around the business and wonder if you're really allowed up there without a guide...



Yep, you're encouraged to just walk around a little signposted route through rolls of woven fabric while yarn is spinning and weaving to make the rugs and throws seen in their stores, even seeing the finished products being checked for perfection before being sent off for sale. It's not a very long tour, just a free walk around a working business, but somehow that made it even more impressive, to start a tiny manufacturing business from this picturesque village that is now an iconic brand across Ireland.

An Avoca throw was already on my homeware wish-list simply because of the richness of colour, but even more so now that I know the history of the brand and the care gone into the products. Having a wander around the shop I may have my eye on a few, maybe there should be a throw in every room? Confession: we did also make a quick stop in the cafe before hitting the road again, and had the huge-est traybake and scone I have ever seen. But even though they were enormous they were scoffed before I even thought to take a photo! I'll just have to go back...