The 1916 Felt Experience

We had a wonderful day in Merrion Square in Dublin today taking part in RTÉ ‘Reflecting The Rising’ craft village. We met lots of people who helped us felt our 1916 – 2016 banner – thanks to all the women, men and children who rolled up their sleeves and made the banner with us. As soon as the banner is dry we will post a photograph here.

We have been researching how wool was felted or ‘fulled’ one hundred years ago in Ireland. One of our committee members, Clodagh Mac Donagh told us a story  from her late father from Connemara:

There wasn’t felting as we know it,  but there was fulling.   As a child, my father recalled that  the family would receive their homespun fabric from the local weaver, and it would be soaked in  urine   in a tin bath in the outhouse,  and two men would then sit on chairs  opposite each other and would kick the fabric to each other, the fabric, all the while was being shrunk (felted) rendering it windproof, waterproof, and much warmer and tougher.

The Irish (Gaelic) word for urine is called fual, so  my theory is  that this is where the Americans get the term fulling.
In Newfoundland  (where lots of Irish emigrated) there was a very strong culture of treating  woven cloth by beating it (roughly the same idea) and they used to sing fabulous songs (to the rhythm of  the  beating) called waulking songs in the background of any  felting type activity.
Here is a video from Scotland with a group of women fulling together and singing a waulking song:


Thanks to Norma O’Connor and the crew from RTÉ for their warm welcome and for arranging the sunshine!

Here are some pictures from today:



Constance Markievicz wearing her Citizen Army uniform which included a green felt hat

If you are in Dublin City Centre tomorrow Easter Monday in us in Merrion Square when we will be making felt to commemorate the 1916 Rising and exploring traditional felt making.



March 13th – Sunday Session


Please join us on March 13th at the Studio from 10:30-1:00.

We will be demonstrating how to make beautiful felt  Lilies to decorate our tents at the Easter Monday Craft Village in Merrion Square!

As a group project, we will be making Easter Lily rugs with the crowds of people on the Monday.  Let us know at the Sunday Session if you’d like to help at the tents!  Below is an overview of the wonderful festival events that are planned!


On Easter Monday, 28 March next, RTÉ will mark the centenary of the Rising by mounting a series of several hundred talks in numerous locations around Dublin. This will form part of the government’s official centenary commemorations and follows on from the success of the public event we ran earlier this year, ‘Road to the Rising’.

There will also be music, theatre, street performances, exhibitions, multi-media displays and participatory events that examine the history of the period as well as exploring the ensuing hundred years of our cultural tapestry.

One of the things we aim to do is have a tented craft village where people can see craftspeople working on things that would have been happening in the same way 100 years ago. We would aim to have demonstrations and where possible, members of the public might be able to try their hands at some of the crafts. If appropriate, we also hope to illustrate how these crafts may have changed in the last one hundred years.