Where can you get affordable, authentic Irish Aran sweaters?
This is a question I’ve been asked a few times, most recently by two travel bloggers visiting Ireland for the TBEX conference. Mariellen BreatheDreamGo.com, and Kristin from SouvenirFinder.com, were looking for some tips on price, styles, and degrees of scratchiness 🙂
It will not come as a surprise to you that these traditionally made Irish jumpers (sweaters) are not cheap. The most expensive are the ones which are completely handmade, next in cost are the ones handmade on a loom, followed by sweaters machine made but hand finished. But, I’ve a tip you may use to save yourself some money!
In our part of Kilkenny we’re very lucky that we’ve 3 local shops that can stock Aran sweaters- the first two are small & wonderful, but they don’t really specialize in the sweaters, although they can have some.
These two shops do have lovely craft items though, and if you are in the area they are worth a visit. Cushendale Woolen Mill in Graiguenamanagh specializes in blankets & knitting wool yarn; they also are online. The Craft Shop & Cottage Museum at Ballilogue Clochan is a total gem, but is only open to non-Inn guests from June through September. Do click & have a look online- you’ll want to make that trip!
Those places are special but only small, so I’m going to give you information from the larger Kilkenny Design Centre, which is located across from the Castle in Kilkenny City. It has a wide selection, a long tradition in Irish craft, and the staff are very helpful. They’ve also an online shop, but for best selection, do go in.
For Aran sweaters, as well as the traditional ‘scratchier’ wool, you can now also get them in softer Merino wool. Prices depend on the degree of hand-work involved. The approximate prices in Euros are:
Handknit (i.e. knitting needles): 190-220
Machine made but hand finished: 50-70
These are the Kilkenny Design Centre prices, I’ve been told by shoppers it can sometimes cost more in different Dublin shops.
If you really want an Aran sweater bargain, also check the second-hand/pre-loved shops! Seriously- that is where I bought my Aran sweater; it only cost a tenner 🙂
The patterns on the traditional Irish Aran sweaters have different meanings; this photo (opposite) tells you some of them.
There are many colours available, and variations of style, as well as new designs & children’s wear at the Kilkenny Design Centre. They’ve plenty of other Irish designed and crafted items, too, and what is also nice is that the shop is just in front of the National Craft Gallery of Ireland. The gallery shows changing exhibits of top-notch modern craft, and often has interesting events for adults, as well as children’s activities. I love this place! Do check their website.
Ireland’s craft scene is thriving, and you may want to see what craftspeople are producing along the lines of more modern Irish knitwear. The Crafts Council site has a listings service where you can narrow down by craft type, county, and price range. Lots to browse!
I must also mention irishhandcraft.com for the Irish Aran sweaters. They are family run shop located in one of our favorite Irish cities, Limerick, but they also have a big online selection. I’ve not been to their shop yet or bought from them online, but they seem a very good place to check if you want a large selection & are buying online or are in Limerick.
More Aran Sweaters to buy Online
I’ve also been told about Quills Woolen Market, which also has a nice online selection, as well as a shop in Killarney. They’ve also some handmade Aran sweaters in lovely colours- the purply/wine is gorgeous.
Recently I’ve been alerted to Aran Sweater Market which are located on the Aran Islands, Shannon Airport and Killarney as well as online.
Another online shop is Arans of Ireland, who also have a sale on for St Patrick’s Day, 2017. Check it out!
You’re spoiled for choice!