The Irish Kinsale Cloak is a traditional garment dating as far back as the 1300’s. More commonly worn by women, this long cloak had a hood which hung down the back that could be turned up to cover the head at any given moment. The
cloaks required a great deal of fabric to make, sometimes up to 20 or 30 yards. Being such a dear article of clothing, it became a tradition for a mother to make one for her daughter as a wedding present. This cloak would last her for many years as her only piece of outerwear and her covering at night. Kinsale Cloaks became popular throughout all of Europe and North America from the 1600’s until the 1800’s. Originally made out of the brown and black wools native to Ireland, the cloaks began to take on a more elegant appearance with the use of dyed wools, broadcloth, velvets, linens, silks, and furs. The extreme poverty caused by the Potato famine of 1846, however, saw these beautiful cloaks replaced by the simple shawls so often associated with the Irish immigrants during this period in history. Still, its timeless design never died out, and this beautiful cloak continues to be worn by many people even today.