From dark origins during the Roman empire (think martyred saints and animal sacrifices), Valentine’s Day evolved over centuries to become the loved-up holiday we know today. Chaucer and Shakespeare romanticised Saint Valentine’s Day in poetry. In the 18th century, the first Valentine’s Day cards (handmade!) were sent. These cards were discreetly slipped under doorways or tied to the door-knocker of a beloved one. Then, in the early 1800’s, mass-produced Valentine’s Day cards began circulating.
Today, we celebrate Valentine’s Day with cards, flowers and chocolate, gifts, and a date! It’s also quite common to celebrate the day by getting together with friends and loved ones. We’ve put together some gift ideas to show someone in your life, whether it’s your partner or a close friend, that you love them!
For more gifting inspiration, check out our gift guide here. And don’t forget to check out our Valentine’s Day city escape on social media, which we’ll be gifting to one lucky couple! The offer includes a night in the Merrion Hotel in Dublin, and one of our Made to Measure suits from Magee 1866 on South Anne Street in Dublin.
From everyone at Magee 1866, including chairman Lynn Temple above, happy Valentine’s Day!
‘Tis the season for gift-giving and gift-opening, and we’ve been really good this year. Here are the gifts we’re hoping to find under the tree!
“My wish list includes one of our throws, designed and made by our weaving mill in Donegal. They are perfect for snuggling down with on the sofa and watching a Christmas film. If it’s just me – The Holiday or Love Actually are my favourites, and if with my children and husband – The Snowman followed by the Snowman and Snowdog!
I would also love a notebook – I have a terrible memory and need lists for everything. I know we live in a digital age and there are all sorts of apps for lists and organisation but I prefer writing things down with a pencil and paper. These beautiful Donegal Tweed bound notebooks are made in Ireland.”
“I do a lot of travelling for work, visiting fabric fairs and factories,! so if Santa wanted to bring me one of our lovely Donegal Tweed passport covers, it would be the perfect accessory to dress up my rather dog-eared passport! As an only child and grandchild, Christmas with my small family is generally a quiet one but we always look forward to Boxing Day when we go for a walk along the seafront in my hometown in the Southeast of England. We watch the either brave or slightly mad locals embracing a charity Boxing Day swim, followed by a walk along the promenade to walk off the Christmas Day dinner. One of our Merino Wool waffle knit sweaters and the gorgeous new red and grey Alexa coat will be sure to keep me warm.”
“For Christmas, I’d love a teddy bear in Donegal Tweed to give to my nephew. It’s something he can hang onto throughout childhood, and pass on when he’s older — a real family heirloom. For myself, I usually spend a lot of the Christmas holidays outside. You can find me having a dip in the sea at dawn (highly recommended!) or taking long walks through the countryside with family. A warm scarf and the Demi jacket are the perfect things to keep me warm through the winter.”
“With two small sons at home, the holidays involve a lot of running around outside, visiting family (and Santa!), and a lot of silliness. This year, I’m hoping for a really smart, versatile piece of outerwear – a coat that will keep me warm while I’m chasing the wee boys around, but also something that will look smart if I manage a rare night out! Having a young family is a bit of a juggling act, so a good-quality piece of outerwear like the Moross Duffle coat that I can take everywhere with me that’s made to last, is top of the list. “
My early memories of Magee as a child were built around what Dad wore as he left for the office at exactly 0750 every morning – namely a navy suit with a brightly coloured tie. (While Dad has never worked directly in our design departments, he has always had a natural flare for colour and styling!) The upstairs wardrobe was full of soft earthy brown and green houndstooth jackets with the odd thornproof suit in a moss green with a fine red thread running through (great for dressing up in as a child!). My brother and I also acquired a bright green linen/silk bolt that we used for ‘tent’s and ‘hide-outs’ in the woods at home. Probably not the final end use desired by the Weaving designer at the time but perfect for us – 65m went a long way for these structures.
Our fabrics and garments have evolved over the years, but the core message of quality and producing a timeless product has always been at the heart of what we do. We focus on natural fibres – wool, alpaca, cashmere, linen and silk. Traditionally Magee 1866 concentrated on jacket and suits, I joined the business in 2012 and while I have no formal training in design, I have been steeped in our brand since a child and love and believe in the the idea of taking a clothing brand and building a lifestyle around it. This is what we are striving to do and use our amazing fabrics as much as possible in these collections.
The Magee 1866 fabrics would have been originally all handwoven and their function was not fashion but utility. In the 1960’s two leading Irish designers – Sybill Connelly and Irene Gilbert started to use our Donegal tweed in the women’s collection. We have always been renowned for our brightly coloured and intricately designed apparel fabrics. In 2018 we launched our first interiors collection.
While we do buy from other mills, particularly in suiting – the UK and Italy, this vertical approach from mill to finished garment allows us to develop truly unique fabrics for our product collections.
Each season we are working to subtly push the boundaries, combining the best of Donegal cloths with contemporary styling – AW19 the Duffle and Alexa coat, while still retaining our more classic pieces. A tricky balance! The Autumn Winter season is so strong for us, colours are rich with earthy tones and our natural cloths really come into their own.
Trends are evolving all the time and the casual direction the world is moving is very prevalent – I still believe there will always be room for a smartly tailored suit, so much so we have just launched an extensive made to measure service!
Spring Summer is a little more difficult, but we are looking to develop the Irish linen story across a number of products and use a more softer colour base across our lightweight wools. For us the ideal spring piece is something that can transcend seasons, particularly in Ireland where our weather is so unpredictable.
A sneak preview to SS20 and our Irish linen suit in an olive green Glencheck (also available in navy) is a wardrobe must – the great thing about this suit is how you can mix up the styling – the checked jacket with plain linen trousers and a t-shirt or the trousers with one of our Irish linen grandfather shirts (an exclusive made in Ireland product). Embracing the casual trends we are introducing a casual lux collection.
I have been working with our team to review how we can use our beautiful Donegal tweeds and linens in some timeless and the more quirky accessories, e.g. our Donegal tweed teddy bear (Made in the UK) and our throws – made in Donegal by us. This is an exciting area for development – watch this space!
This autumn, we’re celebrating women with a series of interviews, focusing on women in Ireland. We got the chance to interview Easkey Britton, a Donegal native, five-time Irish National Surfing Champion, who also holds a Ph.D in Environment & Society.
Can you tell us what it was like venturing into surfing, researching, teaching?
up in Rossnowlagh by the sea, I’ve been in love with water for as long as I can
remember. The sea is the single greatest influencer in my life and for me
surfing is this playful medium that allows me to indulge in that passion and
which has also allowed me to build a career. The sea is a constantly changing
environment that fuels my curiosity and I think this translates well into my
academic interests. I earned a first class BSc in Environmental Science
and a PhD in Environment and Society, specialising in human well-being and
coastal resilience, both at Ulster University. Surfing during my studies
also helped me keep a healthy work-life balance, and clear perspective on the
importance of always doing what you love and not postponing that desire.
I’ve found a way to weave my passion for the sea, surfing and helping to foster
a more positive relationship between people and the sea in my current research
post at NUIG.
Any advice for young women finding their way professionally?
increasingly see a pressure to always be ‘on’. That constant drive to
create change, or make a difference, often leads to burn-out. For me, I
noticed I was going through a pattern where I’d reach the mid-point of each
year (around June) and my physical and emotional health would start to crash
and burn, because I’d been in ‘doing’ mode constantly all year. To break
the pattern I began to track the moments in my life when I felt most alive and
full of energy, and what were those moments when I was left feeling
drained or exhausted. Slowly, I’ve come to understand the importance of cycles.
We all have them, men and women. Because we’re living beings we’re influenced
by our environment and are affected by the cycles of night and day, the moon,
the seasons… As women, we are gifted with an internal cycle – if we’d only
been taught to better listen to our bodies. Our body tells us when it’s time to
act and when it’s time to rest. I’m beginning to develop a greater awareness of
my menstrual cycle in the last couple of years, and it has had a profound
effect on my work-life balance and energy levels. It helps me understand my own
inner ebb and flow, the high cost of always being ‘on’ in a society that
rewards ‘being busy’, and the equally important need for stillness and
Best piece of advice you’ve received?
There is a saying in my family passed from my grandfather to my mother to me, ‘out of the hottest fire comes the finest tempered steel’. It reminds me as we face the greatest challenges of our lifetime that change can also strengthen and transform, that no matter how tough it seems right now, if we allow ourselves to move through challenge rather than resist it there is incredible potential for transformation.
What’s top of mind for you at the moment?
the links between nature, health and well-being and, especially how water and
the sea can impact health and well-being both at an individual level and within
communities is at the core of what I do – it’s the focus of my research on the
EU funded SOPHIE (Seas, Oceans and Public Health in Europe) project.
Personal style philosophy?
harm. Be conscious, natural and responsible. As much as possible use the power
you have as a consumer, and as a citizen, to buy products that are local, made with
natural materials in an ethical way causing as little harm as possible.
And think about the end-life of a product, what waste will it create and how
might we recycle or upcycle? Always ask questions, this creates more awareness.
Your favourite local spot & why?
There are so many in Donegal! It’s hard to beat Rossnowlagh beach, although I love heading to the pier at Mountcharles with my grandmother. Sometimes I’ll swim and then we just sit and drink in the incredible 180 degree views of the bay and mountains. It’s a stunning perspective. My grandmother calls the sea there a ‘tonic for the soul.’
Your perfect day?
One filled with waves, a surf or dip in the sea before breakfast is hard to beat. I’m energised for the day!
I left the army and went to London to work as a Personal Trainer, this was not a long term career for me and I spent many hours in London exploring the wealth of stores. This is where I fell in love with fashion and design. I started in our family business aged 24, very young and very naïve, however my experiences before, while nothing to do with fashion, where hugely people orientated and I also had absorbed a lot of conversations around our business since a child so coming into our family clothing business was not totally alien to me.
Everyone within Magee was hugely supportive of me becoming part of the team, but it took me a while to find my feet and I spent time in different parts of the business, starting in wholesale (I am hopeless at sales!) and ending up in design. I love the creative aspects of my role – through both product design imagery and brand development. My aim after about a year in Magee was to create a lifestyle brand. We specialised in suits and jackets then for primarily an older generation. While we have some way to go, we are starting to capture the essence of an Irish family lifestyle brand. Our focus is luxury fabrics and design, steeped in our heritage with contemporary styling.
If I had one regret it was not working in another large brand for a couple of years before going into our company. This would have enabled me to gain some specific fashion experience which I now have but it took a little longer to grasp.
Any advice for young women finding their way professionally?
Focus on what you want to do and work hard to achieve it. We spend so much time at work and It is so important to enjoy what you are doing, there will be of course difficult moments but overall you need to be happy in your role – you will achieve more.
Best piece of advice you’ve received?
Be focused on the end goal and work hard.
What’s top of mind for you at the moment?
The effect we are all having on the environment is without doubt having an impact on me, and fashion is a huge pollutant – second after oil! From a company stance we are a slow fashion brand. We focus on natural fibres and our clothes are designed to last – not to end up in a landfill in a month post purchase.
Personal style philosophy?
I take a pretty simplistic view of fashion and adore clothes that are timeless. Comfort is also a key factor. What I buy now, I want it to last. Fabric is really important to me – be it a luxurious cashmere knit jumper or tweed coat. Staple colours are black, navy, olive green, camel and white. Orange is my pop colour right now. Silk and cashmere scarves are my go to accessory. I am not a fan of overdesigned products and feel overall – less is more.
Your favourite local spot & why?
Murvagh beach – when I lived in Donegal after returning from London, I ran there every day in all weathers, wind, rain, snow, sun – the perfect antidote to a long day in the office.
Your perfect day?
I love the mountains and spend a lot of time in France. My perfect day would be a ski tour in the Alps, with my husband and our guide. We love getting into the middle of nowhere for a few hours – bright blue skies, dramatic scenery, good snow and silence – with no one else around us! Then meet our three small children for a late lunch in Cave de Creux, my favourite restaurant – great music, team, atmosphere and food – the truffle risotto is amazing! Ski home with the boys – and then a big fire at home with a glass of red wine, reminiscing about our day.
Favourite piece or pieces this season from the AW collection?
I have two favourite pieces this season – one of our Lily jackets in a classic black and white salt & pepper Donegal tweed with a hint of lurex to add a contemporary twist and the new teddy bears! I am so excited about these little bears showcasing our original Donegal tweed in a fun way!
dramatic rise of black sea cliffs over the Atlantic to wide, sandy beaches;
from taking the scenic route along winding country roads to exploring vibrant
local towns, it’s no wonder we say Donegal has it all. An absolute haven for
those of us who love the outdoors, Donegal also offers plenty in the way of
relaxation and luxury. If you’re planning a weekend, let us help!
first day near Donegal Town, which is a lively spot all year round.
YOUR TIME AT MOUNTCHARLES & SALTHILL GARDENS
morning, take a five-kilometre spin down the road to Mountcharles Pier. Stop
for a coffee at the small café there, and have a splash in the ocean if you
feel up for it!
After enjoying the views across the bay, head to Salthill Gardensjust up the road, 200m from the sea. Built within old stone walls, this contemporary garden is bursting with flowers, shrubs and vegetables. Wander the paths, peer through rod iron garden gates, and feel as if you’ve stepped into the pages of The Secret Garden.
AFTERNOON TEA AT LOUGH ESKE CASTLE
Served from 12pm to 5pm, a luxurious afternoon tea at Lough Eske Castle Hotel is the perfect place to whet your appetite. Explore the lovely grounds of the castle hotel and then sit down to indulge in home-baked treats, savoury sandwiches, and a glass of bubbly.
For a town
that many would consider remote, Donegal is absolutely bubbling with life. We
often get to enjoy music from talented buskers in the town square, and if the
sun is shining be sure to get an ice cream cone from Little Mamma’s ice cream
shop. For a bit of history, pop into Donegal Castle for a tour.
Of course no trip to Donegal would be complete without a visit to Magee of Donegal (if we do say so ourselves!). The shop has been in that same location since 1866, when we began as drapers shop and traded genuine Donegal tweed. Ask for a demonstration of handweaving, which dominated the tweed market for centuries. Have a peruse of our clothing collections, which features fabrics designed and woven at our working weaving mill just down the road.
Situated on the banks of Lough Eske, Harvey’s Pointoffers a relaxed getaway for your weekend. If the sun is shining, sit out at the Harvey’s Point Bar & Terrace and enjoy the view. Alternatively, treat yourself to a delicious dinner at the Restaurant. Their seven-course tasting dinner is the perfect way to enjoy the best of Irish produce. Retire to a luxuriously comfortable room, furnished and fitted with complete attention to detail – and even fresh-baked cookies delivered to the door!
second day in Donegal, head out the coast road and enjoy the coastline that
Donegal is famous for.
SCENIC SPIN ALONG THE COAST
morning, take your time enjoying the coastal road that brings you from Donegal
Town to Sliabh Liag cliffs. Be sure to head toward Muckross for the spectacular
views across the bay. There’s a beautiful sandy inlet there surrounded by green
fields, well worth stopping the car to get out and stretch the legs.
IRELAND’S HIGHEST SEA CLIFFS
Sliabh Liag (alternatively Slieve League) are the highest sea cliffs in Europe, reaching over 600m above sea level, and unmissable on a trip to Donegal. You can choose to drive your car up nearly to the top of the cliffs, or park and enjoy the hike (and the views!). It’s a few miles, and it’s the best way to fully enjoy the spectacle of the area.
adventurous and experienced walkers, a One Man’s Pass loops around onto the
Pilgrim’s Path, offering a strenuous but rewarding walk. It can be dangerous,
especially in adverse weather conditions, so proceed with caution!
KILLYBEGS SEAFOOD SHACK
The Seafood Shack captialises on Killybeg’s position as a working harbour town. Their seafood chowder won Ireland’s Best Chowder in 2019 at the 9th All Ireland Chowder Cook Off in Kinsale, so you definitely won’t want to miss it. Their box of fried seafood is another option you won’t want to pass up; it’s freshly made and full of local seafood. The place is literally a shack (although a very nice shack), so don’t expect fine dining – but with views of the sea, we promise you won’t mind.
A LOCAL PUB
would be complete without a pint of Guinness and some music? Donegal Town has
plenty to offer in the way of pubs, from small locals to lively bars brimming
with music and energy. McCafferty’s Bar has music seven nights a week if you’re
looking for a place to pass an evening!
third day in Donegal, it’s time to head north into the country.
GLENVEAGH NATIONAL PARK
It’s just over an hour from Donegal Town, but Glenveagh is certain to be one of the highlights of the trip. Given the distance and the amount to do in the area, we’d recommend spending the day.
car for free, and then a free shuttle bus will take you up to the castle. The
tour of the castle will take you through the history of the area. The
surrounding gardens are built on the banks of Lough Beagh, offering a relaxing
stroll with lovely views.
The café on
site offers delicious, affordable food for your lunch. Fully fortified, we
recommend taking a hike through the national park, following the trails. You’ll
see Mount Errigal and other breath-taking views as you go. If hiking isn’t your
favourite pastime, it’s still worth hopping in the car and taking a leisurely
drive around the lough to fully appreciate the beauty of the area.
on the lookout for more to do, don’t miss the Poisoned Glen at the foot of
Mount Errigal, just west of the National Park.
we hope you enjoy your visit to our beautiful county and come away saying, as
we do… Donegal has it all!
We are a 5th generation Irish family business and lifestyle brand, based in Donegal, Ireland. There are four family members working actively in Magee today, alongside a dedicated team, some of whom have over 40 years experience.
The family – Lynn, chairman who started in 1974 – an avid cyclist who pedals in and out to work every day – rain, hail or shine! Paddy, CEO of the Weaving, an engineer by training and a lover of the sea. Paddy joined in 2012. Rosy, who started last year following a sabbatical for a few months in Chile, cycling north from the Cape for 2000km. Rosy manages marketing and wholesale sales. I (Charlotte) head up our design team and web sales. Following a short stint in the Irish army and two years in London, I joined the business in 2008.
Weaving – designing and weaving are at the heart of what we do. We have a dedicated design team who create beautifully intricate and colourful fabrics, that are then woven and finished in our mill in Donegal. Originally in 1866 our great-grandfather’s cousin, John Magee, established his business buying and selling handwoven Donegal tweed. We still hand-weave today but 90% of the fabric is power woven.
Clothing – traditionally we focused on tailored men’s jackets and suits, (since the 1860’s) but as trends have evolved, so have we and our product range has expanded across both tailored and casual. We are also now focusing on creating a unique capsule collection for women – beautiful wardrobe pieces that work across all aspects of modern day life from weekday to weekend.
We have three stores in Ireland and selected stockists throughout the EU. Our fabrics are sent all over the world and used by luxury designers. These unique cloths are focused around noble natural yarns – wool, cashmere, alpaca, linen and silk. We also offer a Made to Measure Service in our own stores and selected stockists. A collection of over 300 cloths – from Donegal tweed to fine Italian suiting.
Our ethos as a family brand is to ensure we capture and retain our unique heritage, with this in mind we work towards creating collections that are contemporary yet timeless. We use luxury materials and pay special attention to the fit, quality, make and detail of each piece. Our Irish roots are very important to us and we are taking an increasingly sustainable approach to the business.
We aim to create a lifestyle brand that is evolving with what we believe in and wear as a family – weekday to weekend.
This blog is written by us and hopefully gives you a more personal glimpse into what life is like in a brand that is over 150 years old – the passion, the dedication, the knowledge and of course add little bit of fun!
Father’s Day is just around the corner and we have selected a few very special gifts to mark this day, (this selection is made with our own Dad in mind) and more importantly, some thoughts on why Father’s Day is a perfect excuse to thank our own father for all that he does for us.
My brother Paddy, sister Rosy and I all work with our father so the relationship swings between Dad and chairman of our company. Working within a family business is very special and despite the understandable and numerous family ‘debates’, having the ongoing support and guidance from our father is something we all value highly.
My earliest memories of Dad revolve around cycling, mountains, boats, swimming and chocolate, the latter used to help us get through many mini expeditions around the hills and seas in Donegal! We grew up beside the coast in an idyllic setting for any child and Dad ensured we made the most out of it.
This high level of physical activity as children thankfully didn’t put us off exercise for the rest of our lives and we all still love our sport and challenges, often with Dad in tow – from cycling through Chile, (Rosy!) 24 hour mountain bike races, rowing, numerous marathons and one ironman.
If I was to sum up Dad in a few words – energetic, enthusiastic, positive and very much the life and soul of any party! Here is to you and all the other Dad’s on this Father’s Day and to many more of them!
Whether you are a passionate gardener or a philistine towards the art of horticulture, it is hard not to be inspired by the magical miniature worlds and oceans of colour that can be found The RHS Chelsea Flower Show, which was established in 1913.
The Yorkshire Garden – Mark Gregory
I do not profess to be a gardener, but my Mum is and when we were very small she started to create a paradise at home in Donegal. Enclosed within the walls of an old kitchen garden, this vivid creation has evolved over time into a sea of vibrant colour, vegetable ridges, secret paths and quiet corners. As children it was an idyllic space to explore and play. Many happy hours spent finding bugs and cultivating our own, albeit rather unsuccessful, little garden plots.