Avoca is a small village near Arklow in County Wicklow, Ireland, where Avoca Handweavers, the well known clothing manufacturing and retail business, first started out. The picturesque village of Avoca itself is the fictional home of the BBC’s Ballykissangel.
The Avoca brand has fast become a real success story and the company now employs around 600 people. The old mill at Avoca was originally established in 1723 as a farmers’ cooperative for grinding corn and spinning and weaving sheep’s wool.
In the 1920s three sisters, the Wynnes, inherited the mill which had become run down. They injected new life into the enterprise, introducing color from natural dyes and soon they were selling their famous Avoca Handweavers tweeds all over the world, designing cloth for the Parisdesigner Elsa Schiaparelli, a waistcoat for King George VI and baby blankets for the children of Queen Elizabeth II. But, as with many family run businesses, when the sisters passed away the mill became neglected and faced closure.
Then in 1974, Donald Pratt, a solicitor engaged to handle the sale of the mill decided to buy it himself. Along with his wife, he set about getting Avoca Handweavers back on its feet. The mill at Avoca Villagewas soon humming again, as the Pratts began exporting hand-woven rugs and throws first to the UK and then beyond.
The old mill at Avoca village is open for visiting seven days a week. You can tour the mill and see the whole weaving process first hand for free. Plus, there’s an Avoca shop and cafe onsite too.
The Avoca Company has now developed nine large retail outlets around Ireland and has opened one in Annapolis, Maryland. Many of these also have large food halls and cafes attached.
For accommodations, try the Ritz-Carlton, Powerscourt, County Wicklow, which follows the tradition of an elegant hotel fashioned with the latest amenities. In other words, this classical setting is a classic Ritz-Carlton. Expect the formal, but not stuffy entranceway, high ceilings, dark wood trim, velvety, oversized sofas, heavy drapes and courteous staff so familiar to visitors to the Naples, Bostonor most other Ritz Carltons.