The history of Donegal yarns and the local textile industry are so intertwined that it is difficult to tell where one ends and the other begins……..
Pre 1890’s There has been a tradition of the home spinning of yarn, weaving and knitting in South West Donegal for centuries. Using a combination of native and imported wool fleece most homes would process the wool, dye and spin it into thread before either knitting it into woollen garments or handing/selling it to a local home weaver for the making of tweed cloth. These garments although mainly for personal use were also sold to other localities and in some cases exported further afield.
By the Mid 1890’s and after a least 15 separate outbreaks of famine over the previous 60 years the industry was on its knees (day to day existence was a greater priority than the effort required to maintain a textile industry.
Late 1890’s The establishment of the Congested Districts Board to revive the fortune of the famine wracked West coast of Ireland brought about the centralising of distribution and marketing and eventually manufacturing. In South West Donegal this saw centres created in Ardara, Glencolumbkille, and Kilcar.
Early 1900’s The creation of a carpet factory in Kilcar as well as the existing one in Killybegs created a demand for woollen Yarn that could not be supplied by the cottage homespun effort alone. While finished yarn was brought in to supply the demand a spinning facility was slowly built up, merging the skills required to produce the unique Donegal (Tweed) Effect Yarns with the industrial age.
The 1920’s and the creation of the Free-State Government saw the handing over of responsibility from the Congested Districts Board to Gaeltarra Eireann which operated the industry as a commercial company. Gaeltarra Eireann continued to build up the industry becoming over the following fifty years the largest single employer in Sth. West Donegal.
Mid 1970’s The Weaving, knitwear, and spinning divisions are split up into three separate companies and the newly formed Gaeltarra Yarns moves into newly built premise in Kilcar. It also at this stage changes its focus from supplying Donegal, Aran and Heather Yarns to the local knitwear industry (along with Donegals to the Weaving) to building up Donegal (Tweed) Effect in the national and international markets. See;-|Donegal (Tweed) Effect Yarns|
The 1980’s The Companies Name is changed to Kilcarra Yarns to emphasise its status from just being a supplier to the other companies within the Gaeltarra Group to being a supplier to nearly every knitwear and weaving manufacturer in Ireland and with an increasing presence internationally.
June 2006 The Company is taken over by new owners, bringing with them further access to the international Market. In 2008 the Company name is changed to Donegal Yarns to reflect its origins in the history and origin of Donegal Effect yarn.