More Traditional Irish Clothing



Here you will find traditional Irish clothing from the fourteenth to the sixteenth century. Descriptions of clothing from early times are spotty at best. Many of these descriptions are from the English point of view.

So with that said, on to the fourteenth century.




Fourteenth Century Irish Clothing

14th century Irish king

The Irish of this period still wore the léine and mantles described on the Irish traditional clothing page in the twelfth century, with one exception, of the four Irish kings that swore allegiance to Richard II of England it seems the trews had been abandoned.

This was not to be tolerated in the English court. It was ordered that breeches of linen were to be made for these barbaric kings. In Ireland these kings were considered well dressed if wrapped only in an Irish mantle.

Scarlet seemed to be a popular color for cloaks at this time.

Note the bare feet on the picture at right. This was the way of most Irish regardless of class. It was a matter of comfort. Also note the large amount of cloth used for the léine.

There is not much written about the Irish clothing of the women of this time. It is believed they wore a long léine. They wrapped themselves in a mantle fastened at the breast with a bodkin or brooch like the men. They also wore bodkins in their hair. The women wore their hair long and lank and let it fall over their ears.


The Fifteenth Century

There is not much direct information on traditional clothing in the fifteenth century. But it is believed that the Irish adopted the fashions of the English in this period. This was brought about by a decree by Henry VI of England, stating that no Englishman in Ireland shall dress like the Irish. If they dressed like the Irish they would be treated as such, which meant not well treated.

I think the Irish adopted the dress of the English to blend in and make it easier to cause problems for the English occupiers.

It is generally believed that the ancient Irish dress was still worn by most of the Irish at this time. There was a dispute between the glovers and the shoemakers in the reign of Henry VII over "the right of making girdles, and all manner of girdles." The nobility wore fine cloth, silk, taffeta and cloth of gold. The poorer classes wore worsted and canvas linen for phalanges and mantles. There is also a record of felt caps in this period.

So far this is about all I can find on the fifteenth century for you.



Sixteenth Century Irish Dress

As you can see in the picture below, depicting Irishman of the 16th century, traditional Irish clothing had changed little since the twelfth century. While in England and the rest of Europe fashion whether practical or comical changed at a whim in the same four hundred year period.

16th century Irish dress

During the reigns of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I the use of saffron (yellow) dye was prohibited. It was believed to be the favorite color of the Irish.

The amount of cloth used to make Irish clothes was limited. Long hair and the wearing of mantles were outlawed. It was believed that these were used to conceal a person's true identity. It was said that the mantle was "a fit house for an outlaw, a meet bed for a rebel, and an apt cloak for a thief."

In 1562 in defiance of these laws O'Neal, Prince of Ulster with his guards appeared before the court of Elizabeth I. They came bare headed, armed with hatchets, their hair flowing in long locks. Their shirts were dyed saffron with large sleeves. Their tunics were short and their cloaks shagged.

You have to love these Irish, defiant all the way.


Search this Site

Like I've said before this is enough for the traditional Irish clothing page. I like to keep things short. To continue on from the 17th century to the present you can go to the traditional Irish dress page. (Coming as soon as I write it)




Top of traditional Irish clothing page.

Back to Irish traditional clothing page.

The Irish Path Homepage