This house in Avoca, Co Wicklow, was the home of three unmarried Wynne sisters, Emily, Winifred and Veronica, who revived the Avoca Handweavers to provide employment for people in the village. Photo on this page.
As the website of the present Avoca Handweavers puts it:
In the 1920s three wonderful, creative sisters, the Wynnes, inherited the mill, which had become run down. They injected new life into the enterprise, introducing colour from natural dyes.
After some difficult years, Donald and Hilary Pratt bought the business and it has flourished mightily.
Later colour came to the Valleys as vegetable dyes in reds, greens, and yellows began to be used.
An international breakthrough came in the 1930s, when world famous designer, Elsa Schaparelli used Avoca Tweed in her collection for the modern European woman. It was only with the passing away of the Wynne sisters, that the Mill became sadly neglected and fell into disrepair.
My (David's) recollection of visiting Avoca in the 1940s was seeing not only hand looms being used, but a lad spinning the wool with, if memory serves, a bicycle wheel.
We were entertained to tea in the front room in Tigroney. I was too young to have any idea of the comparative grandeur of the house. What I do remember was the plate of delicious individual cakes, from which I helped myself freely.
I remember meeting my cousins the Wynne sisters also in Dublin, at an exhibition where they had an area to show their patterns. One of the sisters, Veronica, was the designer of patterns, and she told us that the brighter, more garish designs, which she herself did not like as much as the soft colours reminiscent of the Wicklow countryside, were made for the Americans, who liked bolder colours.
The donkey cart label still marks out one rug in my possession, now old and threadbare but cherished for old time's sake.
Avoca has long been known for the nearby Meeting of the Waters immortalised by Moore:
THERE is not in the wide world a valley so sweet
More recently it has become famous as the real-life scene of the fictional Ballykissangel TV series.
As that vale in whose bosom the bright waters meet;
Oh! the last rays of feeling and life must depart,
Ere the bloom of that valley shall fade from my heart.
Yet it was not that nature had shed o’er the scene
Her purest of crystal and brightest of green;
’Twas not her soft magic of streamlet or hill,
Oh! no—it was something more exquisite still.
’Twas that friends, the beloved of my bosom, were near,
Who made every dear scene of enchantment more dear,
And who felt how the best charms of nature improve,
When we see them reflected from looks that we love.
Sweet vale of Avoca! how calm could I rest
In thy bosom of shade, with the friends I love best,
Where the storms that we feel in this cold world should cease,
And our hearts, like thy waters, be mingled in peace.
Whyte's, Fine Art Auctioneers, have a painting on their website.
The website gives some information about the Tigroney Wynne sisters, and says about the picture:
Attributed to Miss A. C. Wynne (19th-20th century)
A YOUNG GIRL REFLECTED IN A MIRROR
Published Estimate: €4,000-6,000
Price Realised: €0
oil on canvas
76 by 64cm., 30 by 25in.
Wynne family, Tigroney House, Avoca, Co. Wicklow; Purchased privately from the family by the present owner