excerpt | history of irish linen part i
the making of linen is age old, being one of the first three products, along with bread and wine, mentioned in the old testament. the earliest written record of linen in ireland is in thirteenth century monastic sources in armagh, bangor and newtownards, though it is likely to have been in production long before then.
however, it did not become really important in ireland until the seventeenth century. this was due to the efforts of wentworth, later the earl of strafford, then lord deputy who gave preferential treatment to the irish linen industry at a time when the irish wool trade was severely restricted by prohibitive government tariffs on exports into england. this was to protect the english wool industry against irish competition.
wentworth encouraged the introduction of new methods and brought better seed from the continent in order to encourage the lrish linen industry to develop as a trade-off for the destruction of the wool industry.
...to be cont.
collins, p. (1994) history of irish linen