Letter: Stitches in time

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The Independent Online
Sir: Can the history of Aran sweaters be quite as your correspondent Liz McCallum claims, in her letter (14 September) 'correcting' Alan Murdoch for supposing that the patterns of these are traditional?

In J M Synge's play Riders to the Sea (first produced in Dublin in 1904) the body of the drowned son is identified by the family from the stitch of his sweater.

Synge had first visited the Aran islands in the early summer of 1898, a decade before the return of the two women now claimed to have introduced modern-style 'Aran sweaters' to the island's culture.

Writing about his first visits, Synge specifically says, in The Aran Islands (1906):

In Aranmore many of the younger men have adopted the usual fisherman's jersey (sweater), but I have only seen one on this island (Inishmaan).

Yours faithfully,



14 September