Traditional Donegal weaving company gets audience of millions

Studio Donegal master weaver, John Heena from Ardara.

Studio Donegal master weaver, John Heena from Ardara, who is featured in the exhibition.

STUDIO Donegal is the only local company to feature in the spectacular ‘Design Island’ photographic exhibition at Dublin Airport.

The exhibition, which will be seen by millions, is celebrating the breadth of Irish creativity as part of Irish Design 2015 (ID2015).


Presented by the Design and Crafts Council of Ireland (DCCI) and Dublin Airport Authority (DAA), Design Island features a series of 300 photographs by award winning Irish photographer, Peter Rowen. The pictures capture 24 designers at work in their studios all over Ireland. It presents evocative images of each designer’s location, the raw materials and tools of their trade, the design process and completed product, along with the designer’s portrait.

The Studio Donegal pictures feature master weaver, John Heena from Ardara. John has spent most of his life weaving and is currently training a young local man, in order to keep the craft alive in the area. Based in Kilcar, it is a family run hand-weaving and clothing manufacturing business which employs ten full-time and five part-time workers.

Cloths are skilfully woven in the workshop and unique clothing, bedspreads, wraps and a variety of accessories are created. Visitors are invited to tour the facilities and observe their hand-weavers at work from Monday to Friday.

According to manager, Tristan Donaghy, they are committed to preserving and promoting the original hand-weaving skills passed down from generation to generation.

“We have three weavers in total and, recently, we have taken on an apprentice in his mid 20s. We also hope to take on another apprentice shortly in order to keep the craft continuing for future generations,” he explained.

Mr Donaghy said they were delighted when asked by Design and Crafts Council of Ireland to take part in the exhibition.

“The council wanted to do this in order to capture the creativity of what’s going on all around the country. It’s great to see the beautiful images of John, which will be seen by a worldwide audience as they pass through Dublin Airport.”


The images have been installed throughout Terminal 2 (T2) and installation in Terminal 1 is currently underway.

Design Island studio donegal

Some of Studio Donegal’s traditionally made products.

The exhibition was launched by Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport, Paschal Donohoe, as he was departing Dublin Airport for San Francisco where he will be participating in the Government’s Saint Patrick’s Day programme over the coming days.

In launching Design Island, Minister Donohoe said: “In additional to its significant contribution to the Irish economy, our vibrant design sector greatly adds to Ireland’s cultural offering to visitors from all over the world. This exhibition of wonderful photographs showcases both Irish creativity and the beautiful landscapes that inspire our designers, offering a contemporary Irish experience to airport passengers during 2015. I commend everyone involved with this exhibition and I look forward to promoting Ireland and the Irish Design 2015 initiative during my visit to the United States over the coming days.”

Ms Laura Magahy, Chairman of DCCI, says that presenting Design Island at Dublin Airport throughout 2015 is a huge privilege for Ireland’s design sector. “The exhibition offers a unique opportunity to celebrate and promote Irish talent and creativity at Ireland’s gateway to the world, enforcing a first and lasting impression of the diversity of design in Ireland.”

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