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1866 Life

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Growing up with the family business, taking two very different paths, and finding themselves drawn back home to work alongside their father and brother at the helm of Magee 1866, wcaught up with Charlotte and Rosy Temple on sustainabilityslow fashion and siblings. 

As the fourth and fifth-generations behind Magee, since being founded by John Magee over 150 years ago, the business is literally in the family’s DNA with Charlotte as Design Director, Rosy as CEO of Magee Clothing & Retail, brother Patrick as CEO of Magee Weaving and their father Lynn Temple as Chairman. 

Everyone brings their individual talents to the table “Dad had never put any pressure on either myself or my two siblings to join Magee 1866, we all went off in different directions and in time all then felt the atavistic pull to come back! For me it took working in different environments to truly appreciate how fortunate I was to have a family business and one with an exciting future.” says Rosy. 

Although their mother Elizabeth has never worked in the business, “she is a solid sounding board for us all and has been for years” noted Charlotte. Both sisters praise the family home as a haven, with Elizabeth’s Salthill Gardens – a walled-in acre of secret paths and little follies, vegetables, trees, shrubs and flowers – the backdrop to many photoshoots, and a source of inspiration over the years. 

Temple siblings Patrick, Rosy and Charlotte.

Charlotte and Rosy have very different personalities but share a similar appreciation for the outdoors. “We have grown up in in the wilds of Donegal with the Atlantic Ocean and the Bluestack mountains on our doorstep – many happy hours spent swimming, sailing, running, riding, cycling and rowing to name just a few of our activities. Our home is surrounded by woodland providing endless adventures for us as children. Mum and Dad always encouraged a deep respect for where we grew up – surrounded by the sea and a magical landscape and to tread with care. We now really appreciate how lucky we are and how much we need to do to protect our natural environment. Sustainability is very much part of our family values and what we do at Magee 1866.” 

“We have always been about ‘slow fashion’, the finest of natural fibre yarns like wool and linen, which are biodegradable and renewable, are used to produce our sustainable fabrics and garments.” explains Rosy. “We want to create styles that will endure for years, pieces that will always have a home in your wardrobe.” adds Charlotte. “We’re particularly proud of our newly launched 1866 CLASSICS collection. This collection has been refined over the years and is made up of staples that are inspired by our heritage, designed for everyday and with longevity in mind.”  

On Charlotte’s visions for the future – “when I first started at Magee, we specialised in good quality men’s suits and jackets. Today, while we have some way to go, we are starting to capture the essence of an Irish family lifestyle brand across our home, men and women collections. The focus is luxury fabrics (many which are still woven by us in Donegal) and design, steeped in our heritage with contemporary styling.” 

Acknowledging the unprecedented year have found ourselves in, Rosy states that “It has been an incredibly challenging and difficult few months with the situation surrounding COVID-19 and not to mention the uncertainties of Brexit. While we are still very much in the middle of both these external and uncontrollable factors, we have a very clear vision for our future and look forward to the next 150 years!” 

What’s your favourite Magee piece in your wardrobe?  

Rosy: The beige Ards Biker jacket – the fabric was designed and made by us. It looks cool with dresses or jeans.  

Charlotte: The Camel & Oat cashmere blend pashmina – made in Donegal. I have always loved these pashminas and always have one with me – summer or winter. 

What new arrivals are you most looking forward to this season?  

Rosy: The Donegal tweed salt & pepper Georgie gilet.  

Charlotte: The Clooney coat – in a soft grey and white cashmere houndstooth.

 

Grey and white houndstooth

What’s a piece of advice that you’ve carried with you and who is it from?  

Rosy:  Mum has always told each of us since we were little to ‘be true to yourself’ and ‘to follow your own path’. Sometimes this might mean going against the grain, I’ve had a fairly un-conventional career from working at Christie’s Auction House to a food start up to cycling solo in Patagonia but it’s always worth daring to explore and to return all the better for the experience gained. And as siblings now working together, we all respect our very ‘individual’ characters!  

Charlotte: Rosy has always been black and white and takes emotion out of a situation. I have a lot to learn in this area, I am very like Dad in that I can get pretty passionate about getting my point of view across. I am trying to take a ‘calm’ leaf out of Rosy’s book with mixed results!   

What excites you about the future? / What are you passionate about?  

Rosy: I’m so glad to see that amidst the real challenges of Covid-19, sustainability is becoming an urgent conversation. I am hopeful that conversations will translate to much needed action around improving how we treat the planet. At Magee, we are set on building on our heritage of slow fashion and to make sure we leave a brand fit for the next generation.  

Charlotte: For the last few months we have been firefighting with COVID-19 but I am lucky now to be fully immersed in the creative and direction of the brand, which is a welcome distraction. I am really excited about our collections evolving into something that we as a family love to wear and use and cannot wait to share this. 

Cheeky last question – What’s it really like working with your siblings? 

Charlotte: We try to keep emotion to a minimum with business but it creeps in on occasion! However siblings are always there – day or night to talk through both the good and bad, this is very reassuring and invaluable for me, especially on the more challenging issues we might face.

We’re all looking a bit closer to home for our getaways this year, and we might be bias, but Donegal really does have it all. Voted ‘Coolest Place on the Planet’ by National Geographic in 2017, whether you’re looking for adventurous outdoor pursuits, a bit of luxury or breathtaking scenery, there is something here for you.

Here are some of our family’s top tips for things to see and do on a three-day staycation in Donegal.

Stay

Base yourself at the Lough Eske Castle Hotel, this 5-star award winning hotel and spa is nestled at the foot of the Blue Stack Mountains just five miles from Donegal Town. From Cedars Restaurant you can take in sweeping views of the castle gardens and surrounding woodland while enjoying simple, exquisitely fresh ingredients prepared to perfection.

Day 1

After you get settled at the hotel, take the short, 10-minute drive into Donegal Town – a lively spot all year round. The epic Donegal Castle, built in 1474 sits on the banks of the River Eske and was the stronghold of the O’Donnell clan, one of the most powerful Gaelic families in Ireland. Pop over the bridge and you’ll find the start of the Donegal Bank Trail, a pleasant scenic stroll along the river that takes you out to Donegal Bay and back.

The Diamond is the main hub of Donegal Town, surrounded by café’s and restaurants and our Magee of Donegal shop, which stands on the site of the original drapers shop, founded in 1866. Here we specialise in Magee men’s and women’s wear and accessories – designed and made in Ireland. Other brands include – Barbour, Dubarry, Seasalt and luxury Irish made gifts including Newbridge Silver. Call ahead to arrange a weaving demonstration in our heritage room or take a break at the Weaver’s Loft café where we focus on a seasonal menu and home baking.

Day 2

Time to explore the Wild Atlantic Way. Just up the coast is 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 Gardens, 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. (Open 1 May to 30 September 2020).

Continuing along the coast you will find Killybegs, Ireland’s largest fishing port. Just in time for lunch, The Seafood Shack  will not disappoint. Famous for their seafood chowder (winner of Ireland’s Best Chowder at the 9th All Ireland Chowder Cook Off in Kinsale in 2019) the rest of their offering is delicious too, freshly prepared local seafood all to be enjoyed al fresco accompanied by views of the sea and busy fishing boats.

Onward to Sliabh Liag , the highest sea cliffs in Europe. Stretching to over 600m above sea level, the views are unmissable. Drive to the top of the cliffs, or park and enjoy the hike.

Take the loop back through the winding Glengesh Pass to the heritage town of Ardara, a must for fans of traditional Irish music and also a town steeped in the wool trade. A busy market town, in the late 19th century our founder John Magee would visit the market in Ardara to buy and sell handwoven tweeds. On your return, treat yourself to a delicious dinner at the Lakeside Restaurant at Harvey’s Point Hotel on Lough Eske. Their seven-course tasting dinner is the perfect way to enjoy the best of Irish produce.

Day 3

Head north to Glenveagh National Park, the second largest national park in Ireland covering 170 square kilometres of hillside above Glenveagh Castle on the shore of Lough Veagh. The park hosts a variety of walking trails to suit everyone from the novice to experienced hiker. The fresh air and stunning views are guaranteed to blow away all your cobwebs. If hiking isn’t your thing, cycling and fishing are also on offer as well as a relaxed stroll through the castle’s walled Victorian gardens.

We hope you enjoy your trip through our home county and the landscapes that have inspired our talented weavers and designers for more than 150 years.


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