A traditional doll from the Aran Islands

Doll from Aran Islands

This beautiful little doll comes from Inisheer on the Aran Islands. In 1939 it was handed into the folklore collections of the National Museum of Ireland, where it is now stored in Castlebar, Co. Mayo. Simply made, the body of the doll is fashioned from a single piece of timber, most likely driftwood, that was roughly shaped. Eyes are provided by two iron tacks/nails, which are hammered into the ‘face’. The doll is dressed ┬áin a colourful woollen head-scarf, shawl and felt dress that mirrors Aran Island clothing of the 1930s (see image below). Although rudimentary in nature, it is not hard to imagine how this small doll was once a much loved toy.

doll folklore


Irish doll




Aran islanders
Aran Island girls from the 1930s, wearing similar clothes to the doll (source)

3 thoughts on “A traditional doll from the Aran Islands

  1. Bright and cheerful and indeed twould be a delight to a small child who likely would not have had many toys. I wAs surprised at the green and yellow colours, thinking of Aran clothing for women as being red skirts with black stripe parallel to the hem, and a black shawl. If the doll had yellow and green then those coloured wools must have been around. as a child visiting my gran in Dublin, I sat on the footpath with other little girls learning the crochet stitches that are green and yellow here.

  2. When my mother visited Inis Meadhan in 1930s the girls her age had very expensive (cashmere, I think) shawls, which were the equivalent of a wedding dress in expenditure. She was astonished at the price, and they said you bought one for a lifetime.

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