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Today some Irish handicrafts are so well known that they are highly prized in other countries.  Among these are Aran knitted goods, Irish linen, Irish tweeds, and Waterford Crystal.

The weaving of wool is one of Ireland's best known crafts.  The women of the Aran Islands (off the west coast) have long been famous for knitting beautiful woolen sweaters.  Originally, each family had its own distinctive sweater pattern so that drowned fishermen could be easily identified.  Even today, they claim that no two patterns are exactly the same.

In the 17th century, linen weavers came from Scotland to Ireland and they brought their skills with them.  The result has been a high quality linen which is made into costly sheets and tablecloths.  Much of the linen that comes from Donegal is hand embroidered.  Because of the quality, people are willing to pay high prices.

Donegal tweeds are another distinctly Irish product.  It is textured wool with flecks of color.  Originally the colors were made from natural dyes that were found in the countryside:  minerals, wild plants, and lichens.  Today, synthetic dyes are used but the results are the same.  It is not uncommon to see the men of Ireland strolling around with their tweed caps and jackets.

Waterford Crystal is the celebrated glassware that is made in the same town in the south coast of Ireland and by much the same method as it was when the business started in 1783.  If you take a tour of the factory, you will see how the components are mixed in furnaces then drawn out to be blown into glowing balls of molten crystal. This is patted and smoothed in wooden bowls and iron molds.  The most important part is done by the cutters who etch and engrave the designs.  The least flaw in a piece of Waterford will result in it being thrown out.

1. On a recent trip to Ireland, Rory bought all the members of his family knitted gifts from the Aran Islands.  He bought his mother a cardigan sweater for $115, his dad a pullover for $85, his brother a vest for $60, and his sister mittens and hat for $45.  He had them shipped to the United States.  How much did it cost him including shipping costs?

Shipping Costs

Up to $50 $8.25
$51-$100 $9.05
$101-$150 $9.85
$151-$200 $10.65

2. Mr. and Mrs. Shaunessey were married 50 years ago on St. Patrick's Day.  Their four grown children wanted to get them two special gifts.  Mrs. Shaunessey has been collecting Waterford Crystal for years.  The children decided on two pieces that were made specifically for St. Patrick's Day:  an 8 inch vase with carved shamrocks for $189 and a bowl carved with the Celtic cross for $179.  If they are splitting the cost, how much would they each contribute?  Don't forget 7% tax.

3. Tours of the Waterford factory are offered Monday through Friday from 8:30 to 4:00 from April to October and 9:00 to 3:15 from November to March.  The tours start every 40 minutes.  How many times in a day are there tours from April to October?  How many less are done in a day from November to March?

4. In a certain store in Donegal, there are 26 different linen tablecloths and 18 different styles of embroidered napkins and 22 styles of napkins without embroidery.  How many different combinations of tablecloths and napkins are there if you are choosing only one?

5. Padric has been waiting for the tweed jacket and cap to go on sale.  He can pay full price of $235 for the jacket and 1/2 of the $40 price for the cap (only if you are buying the jacket) or he can wait for a 15% off sale.  The discount would be on the full price of the jacket and cap.  Which is less expensive?

Irish Craft Solutions

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