Irish poet  Pat Waters sings a beautiful song about a woman who has lost her husband at sea,  called 'Heaven's Fishing Beds'.

'The Gansey'  is inspired by Pat's song.

The knitting of the Aran or Gansey sweater is a traditional craft, reflecting the lives of the makers and their families.

A Gansey sweater might take from three to six weeks to knit, ideal for the fishermen, using unscored wool, its natural oil resistance to water, yet retaining its natural insulation qualities.  Patterns were kept within families through many generations.

 

Many of the stitches reflect Celtic art and are symbolic

-  the Honeycomb Stitch represents the bee, a hard worker, the Diamond Stitch -  small fields, while the Moss Stitch represents the seaweed used to fertilise barren fields and produce good harvests.

 

The Diamond Stitch is for success and wealth, The Cable Stitches are the fisherman’s ropes and a wish for a fruitful day at sea.

 

The Zigzag Stitch depicts the twisting cliff paths on the islands.

 

Sadly, these Aran sweaters were often used to identify the bodies of drowned fishermen washed up on the shore following an accident at sea. 

©2020 by Anne Tilby.