What are the traditional clothes of Ireland

Irish costume

What does an Irish costume look like?

Do you still wear Irish costume today? There has probably never been a widespread uniform Irish costume. An Irish costume cannot be clearly defined like dirndls and lederhosen. It is certain that the fishermen on the west coast of Ireland wore wool sweaters or aran sweaters, wide-cut wool trousers and large-sized Irish bat hats made from a woven woolen material. The women's clothing consisted of woolen sweaters or cardigans and, above all, large woolen cloaks called shawls.


Irish wool, whether knitted or woven, was important in the manufacture of clothing. Against the changeable, often very harsh Irish climate, Irish woolen clothing offered optimal protection, durability and high wearing comfort. Whether for fishermen or for Irish farmers, clothing had to be warm, robust and comfortable. Cotton flannel grandfather shirts were of course very popular with the rural Irish population. These shirts, affectionately known as grandies, with the small stand-up collar and extended back, were ideally suited for work in the fields. The same applies to rainwear made of waxed cotton, waxed jackets, waxed vests and waxed hats, often called oilskins.

You can already see from the Aran sweater, grandfather shirt and wax jacket that the Irish costume was largely shaped by the climate and the associated working conditions. So the question is justified whether Irish traditional costumes have a place in the up-and-coming high-tech country Ireland. The answer is clearly "YES". Despite Google, Facebook, Apple and Co, all of which are based in Ireland and shape the country's image as a high-tech center, agriculture remains very important to Ireland. Irish butter, Irish whiskey, beef, lamb, salmon, cheese and the good Guinness beer are an important cornerstone of all Irish goods exports. Insofar as this branch of industry continues to exist, the clothing style associated with it lives on - albeit modified. The Irish farmer seldom wears the beautiful woolen trousers and typical knickerbockers, but he still goes for a grandfather shirt, wool sweater, wax jacket, wool hat or tweed cap. Tweed jackets and tweed vests, preferably from Donegal and hand-woven, are bought “for good” and then worn every day because they are comfortable, robust and dirt-repellent. Irish costume is changeable and not subject to strict regulations. The shape and cut have moved with the times, maybe that's why Irish clothing is so popular outside of Ireland. Or maybe because Irish emigrants had their Aran sweaters in their luggage.

In addition, the Ireland tourist has been shown to be a major contributor to the spread of Irish clothing styles. Aran sweaters, granddad shirts, scarves, hats and woolen gloves are some of the most popular items bought by visitors to Ireland. It is therefore not surprising that terms such as “Aran”, “Irish knitting patterns” or Donegal tweed stand for a unique Irish style around the world and, like a brand, guarantee quality and durability. Funnily enough, it was only through the development of Irish costume outside Ireland that many Irish, especially the Irish city dwellers, realized what a treasure they had almost lost. When Ireland was preparing to become supposedly "modern", the elements of Irish costume were often viewed as backward.

Today, thanks to expats and tourists, wool sweaters and tweed jackets are at least as popular in Dublin as they are in County Donegal. So it is safe to say that the Irish costume is alive. She should live high!

[Irish costumes] [Irish clothing]