A Traditional Irish Woven Straw Hen’s Nest

Woven out of plaited straw, this hen’s nest represents an object that was once commonly seen on Irish farms. Typically oaten straw was used to weave the objects, but on occasion wheat or barley straw was also employed. The nests were normally placed in a dark room/space, often in an outhouse, where the hens were more likely to lay their eggs. This particular example comes from Drumcliffe in Co. Sligo and now resides at the Museum of Country Life, near Castlebar, Co. Mayo. The photo below shows Mr Laurence Mulligan from Enaghan in Co. Longford making a similar nest in 1969.




5 thoughts on “A Traditional Irish Woven Straw Hen’s Nest

  1. I have one of these that i take into National Schools to show children how straw was used in the past. It was made by Ted Kelly from Co. Sligo who is now sadly no longer with us. He worked with the National Museum of Country Life, in Castlebar, Co. Mayo, which is where i met him several times. He was a wonderful man, a real traditional craftsman and a total gentleman. He also taught me to make traditional Straw Boys hats using oats. A very sad loss to the craft, but you can still see many of his amazing creations in the museum, along with so much more! A wonderful place to visit and its all free. Enjoy.

    1. I found the website, it looks great. Here is a little snippet of what was said: People took advantage of local natural materials to make everyday items. As a result, in different parts of the country similar objects were made of different materials. Straw was a cheap, readily available material that people used to make a wide range of everyday objects.
      So take a look by following this link, for more info on the Traditional Irish Woven Straw Hen’s Nests:

    2. Melanie, I met Mr. Ted Kelly in 2003 for a project I created on Trad Irish basket weavers. How amazing to read your message here in 2021. I still have my hen’s nest he made for me as I interviewed him. Also an egg basket. These and several other weaver’s works were part of a display here in the Pacific Northwest in 2004-2006. What a kind and generous man. I am sorry to hear of his passing. I still have all my documentation and will put things together in a book. Life kept taking unexpected turns sadly preventing quicker progress. But it will come together. I was able to send Mr Kelly photographs of him and his wife as we visited. Thank you for sharing your words here.

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