The Modern Irish Kilt - Your Views

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The Modern Irish Kilt - Your Views

Postby finnacan on Thu Oct 07, 2010 7:18 pm

Forgive me, but I have always wanted to ask this question...

What are your views or opinions on the modern day Irish kilt?

I was reading the McClintock story again, and was struck by the fact that even though he destroyed the kilt myth, his work was discarded because a few didn't want to be seen as "wearing pajamas" or clothed in what they thought was a ridiculous ensemble, meaning the Tudor Era leine-ionar-brat-mantle combination.

Knowing that most of you have an indepth understanding of Irish clothing (as indepth as we can currently research, at any rate - you guys are usually on the cutting edge) I was wondering what you good folks thought of the modern Irish kilt.
And not just the classic green doublet and mustard yellow kilt, but also the idea of County tartans and such.
Do you like them? Accept them? Hate them?
I'd also be curious to know your estimation of the general opinion of them among most Irish citizens.
Do they accept them? Are opinions changing one way or the other?

I look forward to your replies and viewpoints.

~Finnacan
http://coblaith.net/EarlyGaelicDress/default.html (An Introduction to Early Gaelic Dress)
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Re: The Modern Irish Kilt - Your Views

Postby Swifty on Thu Oct 07, 2010 8:55 pm

I have no opinion on it at all really - it's a modern phenomena. Good for some for weddings etc.

Pádraig Pearse perferred the kilt to trews as an idea for national dress - for aesthetical reasons mainly - don't know if he ever considered the léine.
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Re: The Modern Irish Kilt - Your Views

Postby finnobreanan on Fri Oct 08, 2010 5:37 pm

The kilt can be a rather comfortable modern garment, but that's what it is...relatively modern with no basis in Irish History.
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Re: The Modern Irish Kilt - Your Views

Postby Billy on Fri Oct 08, 2010 9:40 pm

They're a bit of craic, but not particularly historical, and to most Irish Gaels, not particularly significant in terms of heritage, identity etc. The Irish in Scotland seem to be into them more, for obvious reasons, and appear to wear the county tartans with pride. Here in Ireland, it wouldn't be that big of a deal. I like them, the same way I like a tuxedo. Special occasions seem like an appropriate time to wear them.

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Re: The Modern Irish Kilt - Your Views

Postby bannerman on Mon Oct 11, 2010 9:11 am

They were invented as a form of "national dress" in the gaelic revival period 1880-1920. They would have been popular at feiseanna, ceili's and other social occasions held by the Gaelic League and the early Sinn Fein Party (1905 -1915 led by Arthur Griffith a very different entity than post 1916 Sinn Fein) Kilts with an accompanying fly-plaid or "brat" were worn as part of a military uniform by several militant Republican and Nationalist groups namely Na Fianna Eireann - The Irish National Boy Scouts, The Irish Citizen Army Boy Scouts, The Irish National Guards. Kilts appear to have been worn occasionally, though not as an officially approved item of uniform, by the early Irish Volunteers 1913-1915.
These kilts however tried to stress their "Irishness" and distinctiveness from Scottish Kilts and they were of a plain uniform colour usually saffron, sometimes green and very occasionally purple. I think they shose saffron because of its association with the leine which if I am correct was usually saffron in colour (medievialists help me out here) Those involved in the Gaelic Revival and militant republican groups did not wear tartan kilts to my knowledge and only very seldomly wore sporrans. I have seen pictures of Liam Mellows (leader of the 1916 Rebellion in Galway, later executed by the Free State in the Civil War) George Clancy (Sinn Feim mayor of Limerick assassinated by the RIC Auxiliaries in 1921), Thomas Ahse (Hunger striker and President of the I.R.B. in 1917) and Thomas Mac Donough (one of the leaders of the 1916 Rising) all wearing plain saffron "Irish" kilts.

According to Robert Barton who was a British Soldier stationed in Dublin at the time of the 1916 Rising - he was given orders in the aftermath of the 1916 Rising to arrest anybody who was dressed strangley especially in kilts. See Robert Bartons statement to the Bureau Of Military History.

The two Irish boy scout movements who recently merged "The Catholic Boy Scouts of Ireland" and "The Scout Association of Ireland" now both Scouting Ireland had the option of wearing a saffron kilt as an optional part of the uniform.
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Re: The Modern Irish Kilt - Your Views

Postby finnacan on Tue Oct 12, 2010 4:01 am

bannerman wrote:They were invented as a form of "national dress" in the gaelic revival period 1880-1920. They would have been popular at feiseanna, ceili's and other social occasions held by the Gaelic League and the early Sinn Fein Party (1905 -1915 led by Arthur Griffith a very different entity than post 1916 Sinn Fein) Kilts with an accompanying fly-plaid or "brat" were worn as part of a military uniform by several militant Republican and Nationalist groups namely Na Fianna Eireann - The Irish National Boy Scouts, The Irish Citizen Army Boy Scouts, The Irish National Guards. Kilts appear to have been worn occasionally, though not as an officially approved item of uniform, by the early Irish Volunteers 1913-1915.
These kilts however tried to stress their "Irishness" and distinctiveness from Scottish Kilts and they were of a plain uniform colour usually saffron, sometimes green and very occasionally purple. I think they shose saffron because of its association with the leine which if I am correct was usually saffron in colour (medievialists help me out here) Those involved in the Gaelic Revival and militant republican groups did not wear tartan kilts to my knowledge and only very seldomly wore sporrans. I have seen pictures of Liam Mellows (leader of the 1916 Rebellion in Galway, later executed by the Free State in the Civil War) George Clancy (Sinn Feim mayor of Limerick assassinated by the RIC Auxiliaries in 1921), Thomas Ahse (Hunger striker and President of the I.R.B. in 1917) and Thomas Mac Donough (one of the leaders of the 1916 Rising) all wearing plain saffron "Irish" kilts.

According to Robert Barton who was a British Soldier stationed in Dublin at the time of the 1916 Rising - he was given orders in the aftermath of the 1916 Rising to arrest anybody who was dressed strangley especially in kilts. See Robert Bartons statement to the Bureau Of Military History.

The two Irish boy scout movements who recently merged "The Catholic Boy Scouts of Ireland" and "The Scout Association of Ireland" now both Scouting Ireland had the option of wearing a saffron kilt as an optional part of the uniform.



Very informative, Bannerman, and much appreciated.
But what is your opinion of them, your viewpoint on them as a part of National dress?
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Re: The Modern Irish Kilt - Your Views

Postby bannerman on Tue Oct 12, 2010 10:40 am

Very informative, Bannerman, and much appreciated.
But what is your opinion of them, your viewpoint on them as a part of National dress?


Thanks finnacan
My opinion - eh. Well I own one and have been known to wear it!
I was in the scouts here for for years and the kilt looked much cooler with the uniform than navy slacks so I went to great trouble and expense to buy a plain saffron kilt. It was very popular with the ladies on trips abroad. I think it looks well as part of a uniform. Pipers in the Irish Army and in Irish Regiments in the British army still wear plain saffrom kilts and look well in them.

Ive worn it as formal dress with a black highland / "bonnie prince charlie" jacket saffron fly plaid and sporraun eg my graduation from university. and at a social dance in West Cork a few years ago - again mostly for a laugh but I was playing the uilleann pipes at the session before the dance so I had an excuse and could call myself a piper if anyone asked.

Funnily enough my kilt and associated highland gear was used as a costume for Eamonn Ceannt in the documentary thats about to come out on his role in the 1916 rising

Yeah over all its a bit of craic. If we wanted an authentic national dress (for whatever reason) we might be better off looking towards what used to be worn on the Aran Islands rather than a costume that was largely invented and borrowed a lot from scotish nationalists. But then again I think that most country's national costumes are largely invented and romanticised. We could argue that if we needed a national dress the fact that that the men who fought for Irish independence and founded the state wore kilts eg Thomas Mc Donough, Thomas Ashe, Liam Mellows - that if it was good enough for them it should be good enough for us. I would definately prefer a plain saffron kilt that even if fancifull because its been worn here by Irish rebels since the 1890's - rather than a "county tartan" or "irish tartan" that was invented here a few years ago to squeeze a few more euros out of tourists -if there was a competition to design a national dress.

If your interested in the question of national costume read Yeat's poem the fisherman where he talks about "grey connemara cloth" - Yeats being a Gaelic Revivalist wanted a traditional Irish costume to wear made of such material but after enquiries found that it could only be made in scotland which depressed him so much he went off and wrote the poem. I have a picture somewhere of A group of Irish republicans in Cork mostyl women - teenagers and children wearing kilts for the lads and long dresses with cloaks embroidered with simple neo celtic designs for the ladies. The text on the sign they are holding reads "Irish Costume Revival 1920" Ill look it up for you.


Does that make any sense?
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Re: The Modern Irish Kilt - Your Views

Postby the_power on Tue Oct 19, 2010 8:22 am

Thanks Padraig...very informative. I'd never heard of an "Irish kilt" until today. I consider myself...educated :)

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