Hello, my name is Colm Clarke, and I’ve lived in the Carrigans area of County Donegal for most of my life. And I’ve worked in the flax and linen industry up until 1955 Last year, here at the Monreagh Heritage Centre in County Donegal, we decided to film the process of producing linen. There are six steps in the process. Step 1: we sow the flax seed in April. Step 2: the flax plant grows to full height after three months. Step 3: we pull it and put it in a dam to soak for 2 weeks. Step 4: Spread it and dry it on a grass field. It takes about ten days. Step 5: Plant is lifted and bundled together into ‘stooks’ for five days. Step 6: The sixth step of the process is by hand, ready for the mill to produce linen. Now we’re ready to sow the flax This is the flax we pulled the last day. We’re going to take it and soak it now.
You can soak it the Ulster Scots way or the English way. We can soak it or ‘steep’ it. The English word is ‘Rhett’ We’ll put it in now and ‘rhett’ it You put the stones on top to keep it down We keep it in here for 7 to eleven days. You then take it out and break it. And if it breaks ‘clean’ (the outer skin come off) it is ready for taking out and spreading…. and dry it on the grass green This is a band made of rushes The process we will do now is known as ‘stutching’ This would have been done like this up until the 1930s. This process that I have done is breaking the inside fibers of the plant It’s the inside fibers that give us pure linen This process is known as ‘crimping’ This breaks the fibers further down so that we can take it to the next process. This is the ‘brushing’ part that takes off the coarser part of the plant.
That’s the finished product. That is pure linen. In the modern mill this process was done with machinery. This product would now be sent to the linen mill to be turned into thread The spinning wheel was used in the 18th & 19th century to produce thread. This process was used before the big mills. This is an example of what was made in the 19th century Well, we hoped you enjoyed the film, and we would love to see you here at the Monreagh Heritage Centre in Carrigans, County Donegal, where I can give you a personal demonstration.