The Story of our signature Purple Heather Cape
Our signature purple square wool cape has become one of our most sought after garments here at Triona Design and we would love to provide you with the history behind the cape in this blog post.
This traditional Irish wool cape style is combined with unique Donegal Tweed fabric to create one of our best selling styles. Our characteristic purple fabric is a mix of rich blue and fuschia tones that make a unique and highly eye-catching fabric made entirely of lambswool. These two tones combine to give a vivid purple colour that is beautifully unique. These colours are inspired by the beauty of the heather growing in our natural landscape, which can be seen in abundance here in beautiful Donegal. The Wild Atlantic Way is a popular route for many people visiting Ireland and it is easy to spot all of the beautiful tones in the rugged scenery.
As a young man, Denis Mulhern, the founder of Triona Design, would have travelled to the mountains with his family to pick the purple flower from the heather. It was a special day out where the time was spent well in the surrounding landscape. This well-known plant, sometimes known as Ling, grows abundantly on acid soil in Ireland's highlands, moors, and bogs. From July to October, its small 5mm long bell-shaped blooms grow in profuse spikes and its dark-green, scale-like leaves grow in pairs along the slender stems, painting the landscape with a vibrant purple palette.
The heather was always picked in the spring time and it represented happiness - especially during wintertime here in Ireland as it becomes dark in the afternoon and there is no light until the following morning. It is also known as a colour of good luck!
After they had picked the heather, they would then go back to the thatch cottage, place all of the heather in big pots of water and this how the beautiful tone of purple that you see in our signature purple heather cape was produced. They would also steep the lambswool in this pot and after this, the ladies would spin the wool into yarn for the men to hand weave.
A lot of the traditional cloths were quite dark and Denis' mother had a secret recipe to bring this purple hue to life and in turn, bring the fabric to life! Due to the success and popularity of this colour, we carried it through to many of our garments there after.
Shawls were a very popular garment many years ago during Denis' mothers time and this is where the inspiration for many of our capes came from. The idea was simplistic where you can put it on for any occasion and not have to worry about fixing it time and time again. The capes also gave us an opportunity to showcase the extensive range of cloths we have available and this is similar to what they used to do during the local fair days where weavers went to sell their Donegal Tweed cloth every week. When we first began making capes, we used 100% wool which was quite heavy but we now use 100% lambswool to provide a lighter weight for a variation of climates meaning this unique wool cape can be worn through every season!
Why purple you may ask? It is a bright, whimsical color that signifies a new beginning and escape from reality. Purple is a declaration of independence because it is not a basic, primary colour and it is often associated with the fusion of the mundane and the inventive.
The purple heather tweed can now be found in both the Roisin Cape and the Trisha cape. Both of these capes are one size and incredibly soft to touch, making them quite versatile and easy to wear. Donegal Tweed is renowned across the world for its exceptional quality and the cape also features what we call "bog buttons" down the front which represent the many trips that Denis and his family would have made to the bog whilst growing up.
All of these distinct characteristics, together with the usage of our distinctive Triona fabric, ensure that you will receive a truly unique Irish cape. Our Roisin and Trisha wool capes are sure to become the focal point of any ensemble and we hope you enjoyed learning more about it in this blog.
Shop the Trisha cape - which is the shorter length - HERE
Shop the Roisin Cape - which is the regular length - HERE