Friday, December 9th, 2011 | By EMisiaszek
The history of Scottish kilts helped us establish what makes kilts so cool. In fact, Scots have been wearing long woolen cloaks for years. Then the Irish adopted the kilt. The interesting piece we only slightly touched on revolves around kilt tartans. Regional kilt tartans have a lot of significance apart from and in addition to the rich history of kilts.
A kilt tartan is a pattern, often similar to plaid. Kilt tartans define the family or clan that a person came from. In other words, if you were from County Cork, you would wear a kilt with a gold stripe in it, as well as red and blue block lines (see the picture on the right.) The colors as well as the pattern itself would be the specific kilt tartan of your clan. In fact, tartan patterns for each family began to be officially recorded in the nineteenth century. If you aren’t registered with the Tartan Authority, your clan’s kilt tartan pattern might not be considered official.
Kilt tartans are made of wool. More specifically, twill that is weaved in a specific way. It is warp and weft of the weave that make up the diagonal pattern of the tartan. Tartans, then, to be accurate for the familial tie, must be woven in a very specific way. Colors of thread will be placed in a very specific order to form the kilt tartan associated with the family in question. Can you imagine weaving your family’s kilts? Wow.
Irish genealogy discusses the strife that came to Ireland during the Elizabethan era. Many families were forced to anglicize their names. The kilt tartan was one more way for families to identify with their heritage and clan. The weave of the kilt tartan as well as the pattern helped families to associate with their homes.
Truly, there’s not much more to expand on when it comes to kilt tartans. Just know that the pattern was one more way for them to hang on to their Irish culture, whether that be a familial claim, or an ancient Celtic one, as we discussed in the history of kilts. Read more about the history of kilts or why kilts were worn here.
NOTE: If you are considering Ireland travel, you may want to research if your family actually had a kilt tartan. Remember we said they had to be registered? Rumor has it some tartans were falsified over the years. If your family kilt tartan is important to you, try to do the research before you purchase the kilt tartan. You’ll note cost can also be much higher for heavier weights of wool. Make sure you get what you pay for by carefully researching your Irish surname and Irish genealogy.