Avoca Mill Handweavers tour 

The Avoca mill is a great day trip from Dublin. A really pretty village that was used to film the Ballykissangel tv series and the home of some of the most colourful throws, woollens, scarves and other great gifts you can find in Ireland. An Avoca throw is one of the best gifts you can give yourself or take home with you they are gorgeous.

A day trip from Dublin is easily done if you rent a car although there are many fine tour companies that also arrange tours outside of the City to Avoca Village. The Avoca handweavers shop is located in of course Avoca Village which was the location for the filming of the popular TV show Ballykissangel. 

Planning a first time trip to Ireland – here’s everything you need to know

Known mostly as Avoca Mill in Ireland the Mill has a very high profile in Ireland. Its name is well known and there are many shops and stores sporting the Avoca name, which has grown from hand-woven products to gourmet foods, jewellery, china and household items from candles to soaps.  I have always loved an Avoca throw and was really interested in taking a trip to the small town of Avoca where the original mill still operates.

A great list of 43 Irish movies to watch before you go.

Avoca Mill exterior picture

The mill is the oldest working woollen mill in the country and one of the world’s oldest manufacturing companies. On the banks of the River Avoca, the mill dates back to 1723. 

Apparently travel to and from the remote village at that time was very difficult so the villagers created a barter system using the mill as a base. The mill was used for grinding grains for bread, spinning, and weaving of the local wool.

warp threads in the Avoca Mill

Three sisters, the Wynnes, inherited the mill in the 1920s and introduced colour to the fabrics, which have to be seen to be believed they are gorgeous.

Avoca Handweavers’ tweed was used by Italian designer Elsa Schiaparelli. and also used for a waistcoat for King George VI and baby blankets for the children of Queen Elizabeth II.

Touring the Avoca Mill

The Mills stellar reputation did not help in bad economic times though. In 1974, solicitor Donald Pratt was employed to sell the mill when it faced closure. Instead, he decided to buy it himself and began running the place with his wife Hilary (who apparently told him that if he did buy it, she would never speak to him again). They produced a range of bedspreads, throws and women’s classics in the fabrics created by the Mill.

The Wynne sisters the original owners of the Avoca mill

Now managed by two generations of the Pratt family, Avoca continues to develop with several large retail outlets around Ireland, including Powerscourt,  Malahide Castle, and in Belfast. Many of these also have lovely food halls & cafes attached and have become immensely popular with both tourists and locals. The Avoca Café Cookbooks have also proven to be fantastic bestsellers.

avoca mill cookbooks

entry to the mill tour at avoca

Avoca Mill self-guided tour

At the Avoca Mill, you can take a self-guided tour of the operation there is no admission fee and you can wander through at your own pace. The entry into the mill is a small room with audiovisual displays and videos of the mills’ origins and interview with the owners. The history of the mill is laid out before you in bright colours and placards that tell the history of the place.

the yarn store at avoca

types of yarn at avoca

From the entrance where you can see the types of yarns and the yarn store, you move into the working area where the first thing you see is the racks of wool and a display of where each of the wool comes from. You can also watch the Avoca handweavers setting up the looms to weave the famous Avoca throws and fabrics.

avoca one of the old wooden looms

The noise mounts and you enter into the area where the looms are being set to weave.  The colours and textures are simply breathtaking.

setting the warp threads

We watched as a worker strung the woollen threads, literally thousands of them into a machine that was creating the warp for the looms.

a loom at avoca

These then go onto to the weaving looms to be turned into yards of fabric. There are also cutting and fringing machines for different items.

avoca mill

Finally into the packing and sorting room where you can see rolls of the woven fabric getting ready to be turned into blankets, scarves and more. You can also order online from the Avoca Mill store.

avoca mill blankets

Avoca Mill store clothing, and blankets for sale.

Avoca Mill Store merchandise

If you want to see more articles on Ireland simply click a circle on the map below and it will take you to a new story.

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