A group of 2nd Years are experiencing the tradition of making a Handmade Spinning Wheel under the careful guidance of Johnny Shiels. (The spin bike is not part of the tradition...) The students are also hand weaving a cover for their book " The Spinning Wheel" which they hope to display at the Make A Book Exhibition in Dublin in March.
The sound of the spinning wheel has been part of the music of rural Ireland for generations. And it's a sound that has been an important part of life for the Shiels family in Carndonagh through the years. Johnny Shiels is a third-generation spinning wheel maker. His grandfather, Johnny, was making spinning wheels back in the 1940s, using timber washed ashore on the beaches around his native Inishowen. Like his grandfather and father, Johnny makes Dutch-style wheels in his workshop in Bridge Street, Carndonagh, not far from Ireland's most northerly point, Malin Head. These Dutch wheels were introduced to Ireland in the 18th century and used for spinning flax.
Each wheel is hand-crafted by Johnny "from start to finish". Each spinning wheel is a fine piece of craftmanship, while also being fully functional. The work of the Shiels family is widely-known, and has been featured in the book, 'Ireland's Traditional Crafts'. RTÉ also featured the Shiels family in one episode of their award-winning traditional crafts series,'Hands'. Johnny now hopes to encourage his own sons to continue the family tradition.
Find out more about Johnny Shiels and the spinning wheel tradition at www.spinningwheels.ie.