Ireland is still caught up an icy Arctic spell of wintry weather that has brought a festive touch to Ireland's landscape albeit a couple of weeks too early. Never mind we need cheering up and warming up and what better way then 'throw'ing on something handwoven in Ireland.

Foxford Woollen Mills has been doing just that for generations. It nestles quietly in the shadow of Nephin mountain right in the heart of Mayo and is well worth a visit should you ever come to Ireland. The drive there takes you through high mountain valleys of amber, gold and purple heathers and inky blue loughs, past woolly sheep grazing on emerald green patches of spikey grass snatched here and there from the roadside bogs lined with stacked brown turf.

All of these earthy colors show up in the beautiful hand-woven rugs, blankets and tweeds that have been made at Foxford Woollen Mills for over 100 years now, in the timeless designs of plaid, herringbone & houndstooth. Wrapping yourself up in one of their throws made from the softest lambs wool imaginable rugs is like stepping into an Irish landscape. Which is not something you will find in any mass produced product?

This is Irish tradition at its best, begun in the 1890’s by one seriously ambitious Sister of Charity, Mother Agnes Morragh Bernard to alleviate poverty in the aftermath of the famine. This small mill has survived just about everything, depressions, recessions, water shortages, fire, debt you name it to make it into the 21st century. From its very first order in 1892 for 500 blankets from Ireland's first department store Clery's in Dublin, it went on to become a household name here and throughout the world.

A Foxford blanket was a typical wedding gift in my mothers day and some 50 years on, it is still keeping her family warm....

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Susan Byron author of