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The Winter Solstice and Christmas

As we approach the Winter Solstice, which is so special in Ireland, we wonder will the light box at Newgrange be filled with light this year.  We reflect on our loved ones who have passed and we reflect on our future for the coming year. We look to the brighter days but the company of our loved ones is all important.

Christmas and Solstice are all about ritual.

We don’t exactly know what rituals our ancestors carried out 5,500 years ago, but they certainly must have from the clues they left behind them at Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth.

Today we have our own ritual of buying and decorating the tree, making a Christmas cake and maybe a pudding.   Gathering holly and ivy to decorate our homes and making the centrepiece for the table to mention just a few. We build these rituals into our festive plans  

Learn to savour each ritual as if it were a moment of magic.

Plan and set the table. Use the lovely table cloth your mam or friend gave you or one you gave yourself. Add a table runner down the centre and place the centerpiece. Then work out the place settings where everyone sits and what cutlery you will need to suit the menu. I find this part of the ritual very relaxing and I get great satisfaction of putting a nice table together. You are half way there to a very successful meal/dinner party.

These are our rituals. They are the rituals our children will remember even when we are gone, but not from their memories we hope.

Involve everyone and say thank you for a job well done.

Happy Solstice and Happy Christmas.

Create and treasure those memories.

Love from


Agnes H Design

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Ireland’s Tree of Life or Crann Beathadh

Irelands Tree of Life or Crann Beathadh

Ireland is an ancient land.  Ireland was inhabited long before we had Newgrange in Co Meath.   Newgrange was built more than 5,500 years ago and it is older than the pyramids in Egypt.

Later when the Celts came to Ireland from other parts of Europe in 500BC until about 400AD, they became the most dominant pagan group and they left behind enough evidence of their deep reverence of nature for us to understand today.  We know that Trees were an important part of Irish Celtic beliefs and culture, so it is no surprise that the Celtic Tree of Life represented how the forces of nature came together to create harmony and balance. It protected wildlife, gave food and shelter. The elders would sit in the shade of the tree and make important decisions, appoint chieftains and hold gatherings. It was common for the tribe to plant a single tree upon clearing a site for settlement.

 These deciduous trees represented death in the winter when they shed their leaves and re birth in the spring with new life. It was as if the tree became the channel between the will of nature or the divine and the mortals who lived there.

The large species were worshiped, especially the Oak and the Ash which are native Irish trees. The Ancients in Ireland believed and it is easy to see, that these tall strong trees extended their branches and leaves to the skies and heavens and their roots strong and deep extended down into the earth. They believed that the deep roots and high branches of the tree connected both the upper and under worlds to the earths plane.  Through this connection the Gods of both worlds could connect and communicate with the people and the people in turn could communicate with their loved ones who had passed.

The Celts believed they came from the trees and so regarded trees as living magical beings. Trees guarded the land and were a doorway into the spirit world.  They were also associated with positive energy.

Cutting down one of these trees was seen as a great crime and often an act committed by tribal enemies.

Although 1500 years and more have passed since the Celtic reign ended, a lot of Celtic history remains with many artifacts and landmarks still prevalent across the country today. This heritage we treasure.

Agnes h

Our Tree of life is available at Brown Thomas Stores, Grafton St, Dublin.

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The Summer Solstice and Newgrange.

As we are approach the summer Solstice our thoughts turn to our ancestors who lived here, in Pre-Historic Ireland and Newgrange.  Newgrange is a one of many Megalithic monuments situated in County Meath in the bend of the Boyne, but it is the most famous and most visited Megalithic site in Ireland. It is also the beginning of Ireland!

Newgrange dates back 5,500 years and is older than the pyramids. It is an amazing structure with massive boulders and a corbelled roof to form a massive mound. We don’t know how our ancestors built it and there is much speculation as to how it was used by our pagan ancestors from burial ritual to fertility and regeneration. There is also much talk about Newgrange and other Megalithic sites in the area being aligned with the stars.

Apart from the structure, the Engineering of the light box is spectacular. Every year on the 21st of June and the 21 Dec, the rays of the rising sun shine down the chamber at Newgrange through a light box situated above the entrance.

The light continues along the floor until it illuminates the beautiful triple spiral carved on stone at the back of the chamber. This is the first known example of Megalithic art in Ireland.  There are other examples of art from this time on the entrance stone just in front of the doorway. Lots of spirals and swirls and this is where I get my inspiration from when designing my Irish linen.

It connects us with our ancestors. It brings the past into the present.

Our sense of belonging is part of who we are. My linens are based on family past and present and our rich Irish National Heritage. Our ancestors at Newgrange have given me wonderful inspiration, with their beautiful Megalithic art, the Solstice, the symbolism and the mystique that calls to us and draws us in.

To dress a table using these symbols joins past and present giving a real sense of belonging and I feel enriches our lives.

I hope you enjoy my linens and have many family gatherings around your table and that they spark wonderful conversation and joy.

Happy Summer Solstice from

Agnes H

www.Agnes H

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My “Homage to Eileen Gray” (Updated)

My “Homage to Eileen Gray” in Irish linen

I am delighted to tell you that my “Homage to Eileen Gray” in Irish linen is being launched  this week end at a wonderful shop in Nassau St, Dublin, called “House of Ireland”. so hop down and have a look if you can. The Collection consists of table runners and napkins, in colours of sand and white,  which is very contemporary  and are great together.  I am thrilled how everyone has loved it so far.

I would like to thank Mrs Galligan, Mary, Marieanne, Pádraic and all the staff at House of Ireland.

If you are far away from Ireland you can view them online at

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History of Linen

Linen is woven from the Flax plant (Linum Usitatissimum). It is one of the oldest and loveliest textiles known to man. It dates back over 5,000 years and was used by the Egyptians. The plant is grown in deep loamy soil and is one of the few plants to have a “true blue” coloured flower.

Flax is environmentally friendly. It needs only a short growing period, very little fertiliser and the whole plant is used. The seeds produce Linseed oil, which is used in painting, French Polish and varnishing. Seeds are edible as flaxseed which is a good source of omega 3. Cold pressed oil is suitable for human consumption.

Flax was planted all over Ireland, north and south and since the Linen Board was set up in 1711 offering prizes to manufacturers of linen, we can assume that our history with linen goes back much further than this. The Irish Linen Board, published a list of nearly 60,000 individuals who were growing flax in 1796 in Ireland. Spinning wheels were awarded based on the number of acres planted for example; one acre awarded the planter a spinning wheel, while five acres awarded him a loom. Fabric is made from inside the stem or stalk of the plant and it is from this that it gets its distinctive texture and beautiful quality.

A great friend of our family remembers his grandfather removing the outer stalk of the flax to expose the fibre inside. This was done by hand then, and was very hard work.

Jute tape, rope, sacking, and paper are also produced from this fine plant.

Linen is made from natural fibres. It is very beautiful, hard wearing should last for many years and can be passed on from one generation to the next. it may have what looks like small imperfections which may be a change in the weave this is normal.
Linen is a natural product and a woven cloth so each piece of linen is unique in itself and has its own character. This is why it is so beautiful and sought after.  AgnesH


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My “Homage to Eileen Gray” in Irish linen

My “Homage to Eileen Gray” in Irish linen

I am delighted to tell you that my “Homage to Eileen Gray” in Irish linen is being launched  this week end at a wonderful shop in Nassau St, Dublin, called “House of Ireland”. so hop down and have a look if you can. The Collection consists of table runners and napkins, in colours of sand and white,  which is very contemporary  and are great together.  I am thrilled how everyone has loved it so far.

I would like to thank Mrs Galligan, Mary, Marieanne, Pádraic and all the staff at House of Ireland.

If you are far away from Ireland you can view them online at

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Cookery & Cures of Old Kilkenny. Ireland

Cookery & Cures of Old Kilkenny. Ireland

Photo shows; Ballaghtobin House 1778 Kilkenny, Ireland. Furse bushes and linen from- Agnes H Design.

I came across this recipe in an old book I have had for years. It draws from the past…..and is
a collection of cures and recipes dating back for generations, from hand written diaries and manuscripts collected from the very old houses and castles along the Nore valley, in Co Kilkenny and the book is designed and laid out by Susan Mosse and Susan Taylor.
The earliest Kilkenny recipe goes back as far as the 14th century and is taken from a book called “The Red Book of Ossory, translated by Canon C Adrian, Empey of Kells.
This little book is a lovely piece of Irish heritage, giving great insight into the social history through the generations in Ireland.

The recipe I want to share with you is;

How to wash fine lace or linen;

It reads;
Take a gallon of furse blossom and burn them to ashes. Then boil six quarts of soft water. This when fine, use in washing with suds as occasion may require and the linen etc will not only be exceedingly white but has done with half the soap and little trouble.

Would you take a chance and use this recipe on your white linen?

How did they even think of burning yellow furse ?
and why would you add ashes to the washing?
Is there a science behind it ?
Hope you enjoyed reading and let me know if you have any ideas on the above?
Kindest Regards,
Agnes H

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“Unsung Heroes”


Wexford, where I live, is a small “Viking” town  on the South East coast of  Ireland. It has a small population and people are friendly. We boast the most wonderful quay side and board walk with miles of water and magical sunrises. When the sun shines, there is nowhere else to be!

We have just come to the end of the 62 nd  Wexford Festival Opera and it all began with Dr Tom Walsh  a few friends and a gramophone recital in 1951 see ;  and has been running every year in October and November, setting itself apart by introducing audiences to neglected or forgotten operas in our magnificent new opera house.

Over the years we have heard the most beautiful voices and seen many famous faces.  We all put on our “glad rags” to listen to as much music as we can, visit all the antique and art exhibitions. The local restaurants put in the effort and dress their tables with nice Irish linen designed and made locally by Agnes H! and serve great food, the shopkeepers dress their windows, the pubs too join in and have great live music and competitions and we wish it will never end . But  for me the real heroes of the opera festivals are  the 350 strong volunteers who day and night give up their time to help out! The person who takes your coat or shows you to your  seat or calls a taxi. For the most part they go unnoticed, they don’t get the applause or the standing ovations and some may even think they are paid (which they are not) Some of my friends are part of that team and they are so dedicated it is amazing and are there purely out of love for the festival. So hats off to the band of Volunteers!They do a great job!

So….. if you love music or you just want to experience opera for the first time, come and visit Wexford and enjoy the fun or as the festival would say ” A great experience”.



from, infotabletop at AgnesH