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Traditional Irish Clothing


Traditional Irish clothing by Lee Valley

Clothing is our thing. Traditional Irish clothing is our business. It has been since 1986. Thirty years of blood, sweat and tears absorbed by the finest of flannel, tweed and cotton. Really what we have done is perpetuated the Irish tradition of using natural fabrics to keep ourselves warm and dry in a very stylish manner. Okay, we have refined the process somewhat and that is called progress.

Tradition is the foundation of our products. It is where our designs originate. It is where our inspiration comes from. Our colour palette and our fabric choices combine to give you beautifully designed products of excellent quality.

Our first product

Our very first product was the Lee Valley Grandfather shirt in flannel, cotton and linen. It is still one of our best-selling products. The Grandfather shirt is a warm, comfortable and easy-to-wear collarless shirt. The style lends itself to workwear, smart casual and bone-lazy. The Grandfather shirt has not only become our trademark product but is a product we have extended into our other ranges. It is available in women’s fit shirt, which is both practical and pretty. An long version is available in our sleepwear collection. The soft flannel lends itself perfectly to a cosy and comfortable nights’ sleep, regardless of howling winds and arctic temperatures. The traditional nightcap is fluid, but ours is flannel. The flannel nightcap is both adorable and practical and it matches the sleepwear collection.

Lee Valley Garments

Grandfather Shirt. Irish Aran Sweater. Original Celtic Cape. Cork Jacket. Cobh Wool Hat. Flannel shirts. Field Cap. Cashel Boyfriend Cardigan. Irish Collarless Linen Grandfather Shirt. Irish Wool Tweed Vest…


As the years passed our range of products grew. Through the years the Grandfather shirt remained one of our top selling products. It still is today. Once the long version of the Grandfather shirt joined our product range as the nightshirt, it opened the door to the possibility of an entire new sleepwear collection: pyjamas, night-robe, nightshirt, nightcap and slippers.

Twenty-two years ago, in 1994, we introduced the Cork Jacket. It was a huge hit. It remains to be our top-selling jacket to date. The tagline we use for this jacket is ‘Often copied, never equalled’. These words sum up our Cork Jacket; the waterproof, wind-resistant outer fabric and our cosy, lined inner fabric are crafted into a jacket so comfortable and warm you will be happy to wait for the next train.

Knitwear is a strong component of our collections. These include the Aran Sweater, cardigans, hats, scarves, shawls, capes and rugs. Again we use our ancestors’ traditions and rely on their premise to produce beautiful yet practical clothing.


Traditionally Irish people sheared the sheep, carded it, spun the fibres into yarn to be woven or knitted into fabric and wool. The flax fibres would have been worked in the same way as wool. Both yarns could be dyed.  The fabric would be cut into pieces of a pattern and sewn into a garment. The wool would be knitted into a garment.

Traditional garments:

  • Léine or shirt
  • Geansaí or sweater/jumper
  • Brat or cloak/shawl/cape
  • Inar or Seaicéad or jacket
  • Triús or trousers
  • Háta or Bairéid or hat

The Léine is a shirt made of linen or cotton. It had a tapered body and long sleeves. The léine was fitted around the shoulders and gently tapered away from the body. Men wore theirs to their knees, often using braided reeds as a belt. Women’s léine were more an undergarment worn ankle-length and beneath a sleeveless overdress or pinafore. These léine also doubled as nightwear, and this is the reason for the long length of it. The léine is the premise for our own Grandfather Shirt.

The Geansaí is the backbone of Irish fishermen and farmers. The knitted sweaters kept them warm and dry against the harsh elements. The Aran Sweater is a garment immediately recognisable for its Irish heritage. See our February blog about Aran Sweaters for a more detailed view. The evolution of the cardigan from the waistcoat was significant. They were named for James Thomas Brudenell was the 7th Earl of Cardigan, who wore a cardigan while fighting in the Crimean War in the 1800s. Initially cardigans were knitted waistcoats and they were adapted according to need. Cardigans became popular due to his success in the war.  The Brat or Mantle, otherwise known as a cloak or cape, was a large outer layer of clothing. It was made of thick wool and often had rich fringe detail. Their shape would have been semi-circular, for the wearer to easily wrap it around themselves. Knee-length was the most popular but shorter ones to the elbow were also seen. The sole purpose of the Brat was to protect the wearer against the elements. In recent times leather Brats have been discovered in bogs, and they have been in quite good condition considering they have spent decades or longer in a wet peat bog! The Brat was warm, protective and practical and absolutely necessary living with the Irish climate...

The Brat has also been an indication of wealth. The Brehon Law declared that slaves could wear a Brat of one single colour, Freeman could wear a Brat of four colours while the Brat of the King could be several colours. Europeans were happy to import the Brat from Ireland, often in lighter fabrics or in a shorter style.

Browse our collections and see if you can identify our styles with Irish Traditional Clothing.


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  • (Denis Hurley)
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