The Importance of #BuyDonegal to Glendowan Craft Shop and Art Studio


Glendowen Craft Shop and Studio is an iconic and internationally recognized stopover for all craft enthusiasts visiting the Inishowen area. Opened in 2005, Founder and Owner Ann McGonigle talks about the idea behind starting the business, a life built on craftsmanship, and the importance of campaigns like #BuyDonegal in helping Donegal small businesses get started. market themselves.

“Growing up my late mother was a very talented artisan and from an early age instilled in me an appreciation for unique and handcrafted pieces. ‘art in Ireland, ”said Ann. .

This love and talent for craftsmanship passed on to the next generation and, as a teenager, she began making and selling her own crafts, locally, nationally and then internationally.

A few years ago, in 2005, Glendowen opened its doors and fulfilled Ann’s lifelong ambition to combine her passion for craftsmanship, creativity and entrepreneurship. Using only the finest Donegal tweed and yarn, in the studio a range of Donegal clothing, accessories, housewares and wall hangings are produced.

Ann emphasizes how extremely popular crafts have been and remain.

“There is such an appreciation for the craftsmanship and tweed of Donegal and it became even more evident last year. Historically, the store was crowded during the summer months with visitors from America, Canada, Australia, Germany and France. But in 2020, as international travel diminished, there were a large number of Irish visitors flocking to Glendowen and the majestic surroundings of the Inishowen Peninsula, Donegal and Derry nearby, ” she said. .

Ann also refers to the huge increase in the number of visitors from Donegal who now drop by and come to Glendowen for a specific product or garment.

“Local visitors were a bit more interested in housewares, so I designed new products like cushions, bedspreads and lamps to suit them and launched my website as well. ”, she said.

As well as producing a range of authentic Donegal materials, local suppliers are a key part of the business. “We only work with over 20 suppliers of Donegal crafts, yarn, pottery pens and glass art (McGonigle Glass Studio), hats (Hanna Hats of Donegal) and a range of artists. There is a little piece of most corners of Donegal in the shop, ”she added.

This strong focus on working with local suppliers was reciprocated a few years ago when Glendowen received an antique hand loom, in recognition of the tremendous efforts that have gone into promoting the crafts and attracting visitors to the region. With the help of master weaver John Heena of Ardara, the loom was restored and Ann launched her own brand of Donegal Tweed, “Meentagh Glen Tweed” with limited editions of throws, cushions, scarves and scarves made at from the loom.

Ann credits the surroundings and unspoiled landscape of Donegal as a source of inspiration for her own and for many designers and manufacturers in Donegal. “Donegal has organically developed a sort of artisan trail, where creators are inspired to stay here and in turn many visitors from all over the world looking for unique artwork and crafts as well as landscapes to see. take your breath away, whatever the weather. . For us, campaigns such as #BuyDonegal are very important in highlighting the range and breadth of talent in Donegal and the fantastic quality of goods and services available on our doorstep. The support we have had has been tremendous and customers have told me what they have heard about #BuyDonegal on the radio and on social media. It’s getting stronger and stronger and it’s a sweet, positive reminder of the importance of supporting local businesses, ”Ann said.

As part of Glendowen’s #BuyDonegal goal, a pre-Christmas sale and hand-weaving demonstration will take place on the weekend of December 4-5 and will include demonstrations by the very talented Claire Harkin and Masterweaver John Heena. This is an opportunity for visitors to learn about the craftsmanship of weaving, support locally made products, and take advantage of some of the #BuyDonegal specials and discounts while shopping safely in-store. .

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