By BRIAN MOORE
THE Sheep’s Head has, over the last few years, gained a reputation for providing a very special experience for those looking for a chance to enhance their talents and enjoy a little time on one of the most beautiful peninsulas on the West coast of Ireland.
Whether it’s, stone carving, dry stone wall building, music, inshore rowing, walking the Sheep’s Head way or taking your classic Land Rover on tour, the peninsula has something for you. Add to that celebrity residents, great food and stunning scenery and it’s no surprise that more and more people are making the trip to this part of West Cork.
However, there is one festival that has for the last three years attracted people from as far away as the USA and Canada and all across Europe to come to the peninsula not for the Wild Atlantic Way but for the love of knitting and weaving.
Organiser Niamh Egerton said: ‘The idea for the Sheep’s Head Yarn Festival came about purely from the numbers of people living on the Sheep’s Head who enjoyed knitting and weaving. But the peninsula had a long standing tradition of knitting, aran sweaters and so on, and especially weaving, back in the early half of the twentieth century.’
Niamh, with help from Marilyn Wallis Eade and Jean Armstrong came up with the idea to combine a weekend of workshops and exhibitions with all that the Sheep’s Head has to offer and are the force behind the local Yarn Festival which has just wound up for another year.
Marilyn explained: ‘We started off with 16 workshops. Now three years on and we had 28 different workshops and exhibitions.’
For two days, Kilcrohane and Ahakista played host to knitters and weavers, after all where else could you have a festival dedicated the to yarn craft then on the aptly named Sheep’s Head?
Niamh said: ‘We had a craft exhibition, which was held at The Old Creamery Café in Kilcrohane the week before the main event, showcasing all the local crafts. You could also try your hand at spinning your own yarn.’
The Sheep’s Head Yarn Festival has not only gathered fans from far and wide, the festival has also the gained the attention of the national media.
‘We have had a lot of interest from TV3,’ Niamh said.
‘Also Irish Tourism, a company specialising in escorted holidays inIreland have added us to one of their five day tours and have organised a trip for up to 30 people from America to come and check out the yarn crafts on the peninsula in October.’
The yarn festival offered everything from knitting, fibre blending and crochet workshops.
‘Whether you are a beginner or a professional we had something for you,’ Marilyn said. The festival kicked off with a meet and greet event at the Old Creamery in Kilcrohane. Over the two days the workshops were spread between Kilcrohane and Ahakista with many local galleries and pubs also taking part.
Festival goers got to brush up their ‘Granny Square’ skills at the Heron Gallery, or take a Carrickmacross Lace masterclass at Arundels by the pier, while the Spinning Wheels were spinning at Eileen’s Bar in Kilcrohane.
Then at the spectacular setting of the Blackgate in LetterWest over looking Dunmanus Bay, there was Fibre Blending to enjoy.
A Yarn Market was held each day with Irish yarn and fibre artists showcasing their talent.
‘Bantry Yarns also took part in the festival again this year with a special festival wine and cheese evening at the shop in Bantry,’ Niamh said.
‘We want to thank everybody who has supported us with the festival right from the beginning, the O’Donovan family, Bantry Yarns and the Durrus Charity Shop. And of course, Designs and Signs in Bantry for their fantastic help,’ she said.