Irish Clothing

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Our knowledge about medieval Irish costume is rather scanty, because there is little surviving evidence for Irish costume, and what survives is fairly controversial. Anyone wanting to reconstruct Irish costume will have to be prepared to do a lot more research and experimentation than for other periods/localities, especially for earlier periods where information is very scanty.

Irish Costume Through Time


  • What the Irish Wore - a very comprehensive and well researched site of mediaeval Irish costume
  • Atlantian A&S Links: Irish Clothing
  • Dress in Ireland: A History, Mairead Dunlevy. Hardcover, Holmes & Meier, 1989, ISBN 0841912696. Paperback, The Collins Press, 1999, ISBN 1898256845
  • Old Irish and Highland Dress, with Notes on That of the Isle of Man, H.F. McClintock, Dundalgan Press, 1943; available on CD-ROM through Unicorn Limited. Expanded edition issued 1950.

Early Period c0-1000AD

Leine and brat were worn by kings in symbolic ways until about 1000 meanwhile shorter tunics were also being worn for practical purposes.


  • Gael Agus Gall Kit Guide--The sources used by the Irish living history group "Gael Agus Gall" in determining how to dress their 10th-century Gaelic personae are discussed here, with specific citations and descriptions of the images on which they based their choices. They also offer a bibliography of reference texts. While no illustrations are included, many of their primary sources are depicted elsewhere online.
  • Henry, Francoise, 1965, "Irish art in the early Christian period, (to 800 A.D.)"
  • Henry, Francoise, 1967, "Irish art during the Viking invasions, 800-1020 ad"
  • Margaret Williams, "Dressing the Part: Depictions of Noble Costume in Irish High Crosses" in "Encountering medieval textiles and dress : objects, texts, images" (2002), edited by Desiree G. Koslin and Janet Snyder, ISBN 312293771 or ISBN 0312293771
  • Some online images of irish high crosses

Norman-era Ireland 1100-1200

Statuary still shows legendary kings in the leine and brat, however this may be well out of fashion and just used to show the figures as legendary kings.

Other statues depict garments which could be t-tunics (or belted up leine's), and also some appear to show priestly garb, similar to English priestly garb or this era. Women appear rarely in statuary. Much more research is needed into this period, but results may be inconclusive due to unclear depictions and the small quantity of evidence.


  • Henry, Francoise, 1970,"Irish art in the Romanesque period (1020-1170 A.D.)" ISBN 0801405262


Cotehardies in the 14th Century.


Throughout most of this period, it also appears that some Irish were wearing clothing based on the fashions in England, rather than based on traditional Irish construction.

Extant Garments

There are very few medieval Irish costumes which have survived to the modern day. Those known are:

Women's Garments

Moy Gown 14th - 17th Century

Shinrone gown - late 16th or early 17th Century

Men's Garments

Construction Details

There are few good sources which will tell you how to make leine or the Dungiven Jacket, but ....

Beware of sites which use drawstrings, tartans.

A few sites dealing with reconstucting the above extant garments are listed under the above extant garments, however such instructions are generally more like guidelines and tips for experienced sewers and pattern makers.

Reconstructing History sells patterns for 16th-century Irish garb. Given their excellent reputation for research and interpretation, these patterns will probably be invaluable and good value for the price.