Tomorrow, February 1st, is St.Brigid’s Day (Lá Fhéile Bríde) or Imbolc in Ireland, the first traditional day of Spring there following the Gaelic calendar. It was made an annual public holiday for the first time last year. Amongst other traditions, children, Biddy boys or girls, made (and some still do make) Brideog’s on the Eve of Brigid’s day. These are handmade straw dolls dressed in white that can be carried from house to house in a procession. The children (and later, adults) wore elaborate straw hats and played traditional music, welcoming in the lighter half of the year and collecting offerings that could be used for a party in Brigid's honour.
This is our segue into another type of Irish doll, the Crolly Dolly! They even had one doll called Brigid. These dolls had some pretty amazing outfits and we wanted to share these images following our craze last year of American and British fashion dolls like Barbie, Tressy and Cindy.
The company first opened in 1939 in Donegal. The doll heads were originally imported from Canada. They dressed their dolls in local fabrics, such as Donegal tweed and linen, and hand knitted garments. They showcase the many ways in which an Aran jumper can be worn! Those who made the dolls were creatively inspired by the landscape within which they worked and by Irish history, folklore and mythology. They became famous the world over.
Another factory opened up in Co. Galway in an attempt to provide employment and reduce the emigration of young women from Irish language speaking areas.
The original Crolly Doll factory closed in the 1970s, after it struggled to compete with cheaper dolls from Asia.
However, in 1993, a group of business people recognised that the brand was remembered very fondly by many Irish people, so they set up a new Crolly Doll company and started selling them again in gift shops around Ireland and the US and on a small scale in Japan, the UK and Australia. They are quite collectible today.