Meet The Makers: Foxford
Wrap up this winter with Foxfords woollen scarfs. Crafted from pure wool for warmth and comfort.
The story of Foxford has woven a tale throughout the world since 1892, and has been created and developed by visionaries and entrepreneurs. Foxford Woollen Mills in County Mayo is nestled alongside the majestic flow of the mighty River Moy and the magnificent peaks of the Ox and Nephin Mountains.
The story of Foxford begins when a woman by the name of Agnes Morrogh-Bernard turned her back on her life of privilege and finishing schools, to join the Sisters of Charity. At age 50, she arrived in Foxford – a place changed by her presence. She saw the poverty-stricken town and knew she had to help. She came up with the idea to build a woollen mill powered by the mighty river Moy.
Soon after, a well-known Irish political leader named Michael Davitt helped Sr. Agnes make a connection with a mill owner in Co Tyrone. A Protestant and Freemason working with a Catholic nun in the 19th century Ireland was a very rare thing!
The business flourished, and even a savage fire in 1907 wasn’t enough to throw the business off course. 220 people were employed over the first 90 years in the Mill, creating rugs and woven cloth. The fabric for every Garda uniform in the state rolled off the looms at the Foxford Mill.
For over a century, the Mill has been the heartbeat of Foxford, and a lifeline for families in periods of high Irish emigration. There was even a buzzer on the top of the Mill’s clock that woke the whole town up Monday to Friday, marking the start and end of the day. Even the farmers ran on “Mill Time”!
As years went on, the new demand for synthetic bedding, such as the duvet, had a disastrous effect on the Woollen Mills. In 1987, the gates were closed and receivers were unfortunately brought in.
The next chapter begins with one of the receivers Joe Queenan, a young accountant, and local man. At the time, unemployment in Ireland was at 18%, but the Mill was still a hugely important employer. Joe, with the help of others, shared Mother Agnes’s vision and kept the Mill alive.
Helen McAlinden joined forces with Foxford and started to draw inspiration from the colours of the rugged west of Ireland landscape, which is still a huge influence to this day.
Many famous faces have shared in the history of Foxford, including Michael Collins and our first female President, Mary Robinson. Even James Joyce applied to be a Foxford agent but he didn’t get the job. However, Foxford gets a mention in Ulysses!
Nowadays, this Mill that was once a much-needed lifeline to many local people has become much more than just a manufacturer. It is now a lifestyle brand, with an innovative Foxford shopping, tour and café experience. The historical element still weaves through daily activities, with interactive tours and walks through the weaving shed. The building itself is a touchable museum. From the minute you step into a shop you can feel history and comfort. An experience like no other.
Shop the full collection here