Irish Kilts History

The Irish Kilt … Is it a traditional, ancient dress? Are they remnants of the earlier Celtic race? Was it brought into Scotland by the Gaels who migrated to Scotland? Our assumptions are based on mythology or legend, as well as the outdated Hollywood production industry. They are notorious for using costumes, objects, and customs that aren’t appropriately used in the films. For instance, the customer in the film Braveheart did not do extensive research on the past in putting on Mel Gibson with a kilt. He played the character of a warrior from the 13th century dressed in an outfit from the 17th century and painted a blue-faced face from the 2nd century.

There is no evidence found in the earliest Irish documents to prove that the kilt was created in Ireland. A number of stones on monuments and crosses in Ireland that date before the 11th-century state that the people Wear kilts. The truth is that the item depicted is referred to as a line also known as an Irish tunic. Lines may include a skirt that reaches the knee, but it’s just the lower portion of the tunic. It is not a separate item similar to the kilt. It’s not associated with the kilt in any way and it is not able to be an early version.

There’s also some confusion regarding the clothes that knights and soldiers wore. They were wearing armor with quilts from early in the Middle Ages known as cotuns in Irish. They are heavy, long with padded and quilted tunics which serve for light protection. In the ancient designs, the quilting is shown with vertical lines that are running across the tunic. These lines are often confused with pleating and knee-length garments are often referred to as Kilts.

The 16th century was the time of this we see representations of Irish men who are believed to wear Kilts. There are images of many people wearing shirts with high pleated skirts. They aren’t the modern kilts but leines that at this point had developed into wrap-around shirts that had large, hanging sleeves as well as extravagantly pleated skirts.

There is no evidence that has been discovered to prove that the kilt was carried in Ireland. The earliest evidence, from the middle of the 19th century, is it claimed that the kilt was used in Ireland. Irish writers from the past do not even mention wearing the kilt in any way.

Do you think the kilt is a style from medieval clothing? No. In renaissance fairs, men can be seen wearing very modern kilts, wearing what is known as Jacobite tops, however, they are simply relying on the information they’ve been in the myths that are marketed as Scottish history. The earliest evidence of Scotland was written in 1093. 

According to the Magnus Berfaet story King Magnus visits the western islands of Scotland and wears the clothes that were worn in Scotland, and is called ‘barelegged men’. In an attempt to establish the use of a kilt the majority of people cite this text but the kilt isn’t mentioned. Because of the fact that the men were barelegged and wore a kilt, it was assumed that they were wearing the Scottish kilt. The clothing which is described corresponds to the fashion of the Irish Gaels at the time that was the leine.

Since the sixteenth century, we start to notice a kind of kilt referred to as a feilidh-m (Gaelic to mean great wrap) as well as the Braga can-feile (tartan wrap) or simply a belted plaid. All are considered to be one clothing. Plaid or plaid is a piece of heavy woolen fabric that was worn over the body as the scarf. It is not a reference to the current American word plaid, despite the fact that they are usually of the tartan pattern that is synonymous with plaid in America. The garment was wrapped in folds and then worn over the entire body. 

The first mention of anything that could be regarded in the form of a belted plaid was not until 1578. The clothes were designed for practical use but was designed for battle, not as an ornament. They were flowing, long clothing that could be easily folded into folds, but they could not be claimed to be a type or a kilt.

At the time of the 16th-century,, they had plaids of a variety of hues. They were a fan of natural or dark brown colors that were not just used to provide warmth, but also for camouflage. Because it is a reference to plaids and is believed to refer to a tartan design It is believed that it’s the belted or kilt plaid. According to the description, it’s not an Irish fashion of dressing but rather one worn by the Scots.

The first picture of a belted plaid dates from the 1600s, about 1610. It shows a length of wool or a blend of linen and wool typically of tartan designs that ranges from four to five yards. Since the wool at the time was around 25 inches in width the length would need to be doubled to extend all the way from head to knees. It is likely that around eight or nine yards could be the length that was obtained. This is in line with the oldest known tailor-made kilts in existence and all of them have about four yards of fabric.

There is no written instruction about how to put it on. Based on the depictions of the time the first step was to lay the cloth on the ground. They then gather the middle part in the pleats into pleats or folds. The idea was to cut the length of four or five yards of fabric to one-half of the measure of waist. The need for precision was not required in folding the fabric. Then, they laid down on the plaid in a line parallel to pleats, keeping the lower edge positioned near the knees.

Then, they tied the two pleated ends around the waist and then overlapped them right. Utilizing a durable strap of leather, they wrapped it around their waists and secured it securely. Then, they would rise and place the rest of the fabric around their upper bodies by pulling it behind the back, and then tucking in the belt near the base on the back. There could be different personal preferences regarding which way to dress in the plaid that was belted.

The first version of today’s kilt was”feilidh” (little wrapped). The term is in English can be translated as ‘phillabeg’, which was the natural progression of the belted pleat comprising only the skirt’s bottom. The first time we saw pleats being sewn in position was around 1792, resulting in the first kilt that was tailored to fit. The kilt is the property of the Scottish Tartans Society and is displayed in the Scottish Tartans Museum in Franklin, North Carolina.

A discussion of the background of the kilt should include the story of tartan. What is its origin and what is its meaning? Tartan originates of the French word “tiretaine,” meaning a linsey-woolsey material, however, it is not related to the pattern or the style of the fabric. In the 16th century, the word was first used within Scotland and was likely used because both the French as well as the Scottish were connected by bloodlines of the dynasties. The Gaelic term for tartan is breacan. 

The Scottish word “plaid” refers to the large wrap dress used from the 16th century until the end of the 18th century. This may be confusing, based on what Americans know about kilts as well as tartans. The particular patterns of interlocking stripes are popularized throughout America to create plaid which means tartan. Prior to the sixteenth century, the wool-blend fabric could have been any color that could be produced by using natural dyes that were native to the area where it was created. Families and clans didn’t have any distinct tartans at this time.

The word tartan can be described as a fabric that has interlocking stripes. The first evidence for tartan plaids in Scotland was known as Falkirk Tartan. It was named after the town in which it was first discovered. It was a basic dark and light check often referred to as shepherd’s pleat which dates back up to the 325th year of A.D., but it is not the oldest known tartan in the history of the world. Tartan pattern cloth can be found everywhere an ancient civilization had the ability to weave. Archaeologists have discovered people wearing tartan-patterned clothing which was made more than five thousand years ago. This isn’t proof that clan tartans predate prehistory but it does suggest that the garment was made by the ancient weaver.

The Tartan

Tartan was first worn in the 16th century of Scotland as a fashion-forward attire. The tartan was all hand-woven and each weaver designed distinctive and appealing designs that were based on the colors available. Certain colors could have been more popular in certain regions than others, however, nothing that resembled the modern clan tartans could exist. Tartan weavers were craftsmen who created a range of different tartan patterns.

The 18th century was when tartan fashion was becoming a cult. Fabric from the period that remains includes purples, yellows, golds, oranges, greens blues, reds, and a myriad of other vibrant colors, which are woven with intricate designs. Following Culloden, the massacre that took place Culloden and the death of the tartan dress bagpipes, and any other Gaelic-related item of Scottish origin was banned. This was also the norm by Gaelic Ireland. It wasn’t until the breakdown of the clan system and the law was repealed 32 years later that the concept of tartans for clans really started to take shape.

The first tartans that were standardized were made by William Wilson, owner of William Wilson & Sons woolen mill in Bannockburn. Wilson was the first manufacturer of tartan materials. With his new looms, he was able to repeat the same tartan pattern repeatedly without failure. The patterns were identified by numbers, but it wasn’t that long until names began to be added. Wilson gave them names of romantic locales or popular ruling families. It was one of romance and traditions, so it was a great feat of selling skills by Mr. Wilson. Sir Walter Scott added to Scotland’s romantic appeal and before long tartan was everywhere in England. Every person who was of Scottish descendants would want to wear their clan tartan. Queen Victoria was a lover of all things Scottish and demanded that Scotsmen wear their tartan of the clan during her visits.

Although this tradition of clan tartans was relatively new in the 19th century, the legend was already in existence with the idea that this was an old tradition. In the following years, so-called experts began to tour throughout the country, placing people in one clan or another and explaining to the people what their “ancient and traditional tartan for their clan was. This practice has caused many people to be discouraged, but this doesn’t alter the fact that in the present, numerous Scottish clans towns, families districts, businesses, and communities can be represented in the same tartan. Tartan is as much part of Scottish customs as any other but the historic dress that is known as the belted plaid dates back to the uniformization of the tartan of clans.

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