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Irish Clothing, Kilts and Tartan



By: Stephen Murtaugh



The Irish Kilts



I've known Irishmen who swore up and down that they've worn kilts "or something like them" for hundreds of years. I've also known Irishmen who swore up and down that they never wore kilts, ever. My mate Tommy Wyatt (Tomas O'Uaidh), has a piece of Irish Wyatt tartan and supposedly this family tartan is considered one of the few pre-eighteenth century Irish tartans that were preserved. I'm not going to go into a long discussion of the history of Irish kilts, here, that is for someone way more knowledgeable than myself.



My own opinion on the matter is thus:

I believe there has been much confusion about the history of the kilt and supposed ancient depictions, thereof. The Irish , and early Scots, apparently wore the leine (pl. leinte), this being a wide sleeved, longish tunic worn belted at the waist with the length adjusted by pulling up at the belt. They also, at times wore the brat, or cloak/mantle. Brecae or trews are documented even for the Gauls. Now the subject of tartan-like materials is not in question, as much; samples being found throughout diverse cultures throughout time, since mankind began to weave.



Confusion also undoubtedly arises from depictions of warriors in quilted armour, which can appear in the sculptures and engravings as very similar to a kilt. One thing to realize, however, is that regardless of the term, people often wore cloaks, and it is not unreasonable to think that, at times, someone could very easily have fastened theirs at the waist with a piece of cord or a belt on a cold windy night.

'Nuff version of history.


From Old Irish and Highland Dress by H. F. McClintock

From "Corte beschryvinghe van Engeland, Scotland ende Ireland."



Irish Tartan List



For you gents, who would like to know what Irish tartan is appropriate for wear, the following list is provided. The essential protocol is as it is for Scottish tartan: just because you wear it doesn't make it your tartan, or you a member of that clan. It may be a compliment to the Clan/family to whom the tartan belongs, or it might just be one that suits your fancy.



If your name is associated with a particular County, but your family came from some other County, by all means wear the tartan of your County of origin.



My own family, Murtaugh, is from Co. Mayo and is in no way related to the Murtaghs of Meath or the O'Moriartys/Murtaghs of Kerry. I would wear the Co. Mayo tartan to show affiliation, my own Family tartan and variants to show the family connection.



And again, there are much better authorities on these subjects, than myself.



Click Here for Some Irish Surnames and Tartans


Check out my Wedding Photos for a group of Kilt Wearing Gents

The Irish Caubeen

Quoted with permission from J Byous Company

It is first seen in a painting of Owen Roe O'Neill, Leader of the Irish confederate soldiers in the civil war between Charles I and Parliment. Historian Richard Dougherty says, "So highly individualistic is the caubeen that no two look alike. " The dark-green covering is the trademark headwear of the Irish Regiments in the United Kingdom and Canada. It is also sported by Irish pipe bands and those proud of their Erin heritage.

Owen Roe O'Neill



Similar to a Balmoral, when "out of the box" (as seen below left), the caubeen takes the personal shape of the wearer after use or "slight" manipulation (middle). Some carefully soak their caubeens in water, shape it, then wear it until dry.



Photos courtesy of J Byous Company



Now if you enjoy wearing the Kilt;
go to the
Real Men Wear Kilts website
Browse, Join and Enjoy