The house of Avoca

Winifred Wynne with her sister Emily aged around sixteen TCD MS 10247/17/66 Courtesy of the Board of Trinity College Dublin


Sarah Gillespie recalls how the Wynne sisters of County Wicklow transformed the produce of a small woollen mill and brought it to the centre of fashion in Paris and beyond

In the early years of the State a cohort of women, frequently single, found a role and voice through artistic and craft endeavour, often allied to social ideals. Predominantly Anglican, an ‘established and outsider’ status, with a legacy of socio-economic advantage and social engagement, meant that during a time of flux, they could with relative ease create opportunities for themselves and their practice.1 These ventures, acceptable within their social milieu, provided entrepreneurial possibilities, which bypassed conservative attitudes. The networks, through which they operated, were often nurtured through a web of relationships created at Alexandra College.

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