The woollen trade in Graignamanagh traces its origins back to the establishment of Duiske Abbey in the 13th Century, whilst the Cushen family can trace their lineage in Irish wool manufacturing to 1778.
The site of Cushendale Woollen Mills is where the first mills of the Cistercian monks stood in 1204.
Duiske Abbey Monks – 1204
Graignamanagh has a long association with wool dating back to when the Cistercian monks first established Duiske Abbey in 1204 – the town’s name in Irish, Gráig na Manach, means Village of the Monks.
The monks took advantage of the unique natural resources in Graignamanagh;
- A strong water supply to power a cloth & flour mill
- A pure supply of soft water for washing
- Suitable land for raising sheep
- Access to sea trading, via the River Barrow
Wool produced in the Barrow Valley was gathered by the monks and sent to textile towns across Continental Europe, such as the city of Lucca in Tuscany.
A living legacy of the monks’ time is Graignamanagh’s Millrace. This water feature is probably one of the oldest and longest surviving millraces in Ireland. The Millrace, a man-made diversion from the Duiske River, once powered the mill’s waterwheel at Cushendale.
A Family Heritage Since 1778
The Cushen family have a long and strong history of wool manufacturing and weaving in Graignamanagh since the late 1700’s.
Sylvester Cushon was born in 1778 in Graignamanagh. Sylvester passed his trade on to his son Patrick who, in 1841 at the age of 17, confirmed his occupation as a Blanket Manufacturer on the Morpeth Roll. The Morpeth Roll is a 420-meter manuscript with over 160,000 signatories from all over Ireland and from all levels of society, as a gift to Lord Viscount Morpeth, when he left his post as Chief Secretary for Ireland.
The Cushen family have passed on the craft of weaving and wool manufacturing down through five continuous generations to our current patrons Philip & Mary Cushen. The continuation of the family craft and tradition is secure with the sixth generation involved in the business today.
The family name Cushen is the basis of the business name – Cushendale. Over the years the family name, like many other names in Ireland, has been written in many forms from Cushon to Cushion and finally Cushen which appears in the 1900’s.