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KNITWEAR IN THE MOVIES: THE BANSHEES OF INISHERIN

When watching a movie or TV series, sometimes I can’t take my eyes off the knits worn by its characters.


Recently, in a movie theatre, I watched the wonderful film The Banshees of Inisherin, where I spotted magnificent Irish knitwear. In the dimly lit theatre, I stared at the screen and marveled at the historical Irish knits worn mostly by the male characters. The knitwear caught my eye because it had the feel of something engrained in everyday life and culture. Beautiful, functional, and long-lasting. Its deep, muted tones blended with the Irish landscape.


The Banshees of Inisherin
Padráic (actor Colin Farrell) wearing an Irish knit in the film The Banshees of Inisherin (source: IMDB)

Afterwards, I couldn’t help but read about the making of the film. I found out more about its moving plot but bumped into a surprising story about the knitwear!


Four marvelous pullovers in the film were knit by a talented Irish knitter called Delia Barry. Delia knits as a hobby and way of life. At 83 years old, she knit the pullovers during a pandemic lockdown, including the dark red knit worn by Padráic and the grey and purple knit worn by Colm. Each of them took only one week to finish. Surely humble, she told journalists that the now-famous pullovers were just a few among many she’s knit throughout her life.


The Banshees of Inisherin
Knitter Delia Barry (left) and two of her pullovers worn by actors Colin Farrell (Pádraic) and Barry Keoghan (Dominic).

As Delia Barry is a master of knitting, she’s been asked to knit for other film costume design teams. It sounds like the dream of every knitting wizard out there. After 75 years knitting, is there a Lifetime Knitting Achievement Award for the uncelebrated knitter? I’m certain that Delia Barry would be a strong contender.


The costume designer Eimer Ní Mhaoldomhnaigh commissioned the knits with wool from Donegal in northwest Ireland. Delia Barry studied images of fishermen in 1920s Ireland to replicate the knits without following a written pattern. The designer wanted to express the Irish clothing tradition and avoid being cliché. The result expresses this vision perfectly.


The Banshees of Inisherin grips our attention with a touching dark comedy that starts with a friendship gone astray. Set in the 1920s on a fictional small island off the coast of Ireland, it’s no wonder that the knitwear takes centerstage. Follow the knitwear inspiration and find a gem of a movie.

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