21 11 2013



Enjoy the sound of  the wheel.  This wheel makes one slow down.  It will not be spun fast, it must have a slow pace to spin the best yarn


I love my Irish spinning wheel. In the mid 90’s a trip was planned to visit James Shield of Carndonagh, County Donegal to pick up a spinning wheel.  The arrangements were made by calling James and ordering one, the butcher shop took the call and got James on the phone, he only lived across the street.  He told me to come along, he always had wheels going and I could pick the color of wood I liked.

I had found his name in a crafts book I had picked up on an earlier trip.  In the book were names of three people making wheels including James but sadly James was the  only one left making them.  Now I found out that he was the last Master Spinning Wheelwright in Ireland.

The shop was in the back of his house, a wonderful well light shop with wheel parts everywhere ready to assemble . I met his wife and son and had a delightful visit and picked out my wood.  My wheel happens to be made of a mahogany Church Pew.   He scoured the strands (beaches) for parts of boats and wood washed up on shore  Two days later my wheel was done and I had spent those two days enjoying the time touring the Inishowen Peninsula and would do that for longer periods again on other trips.  WHen I picked it up you could still smell the polish on the wood.  Another visit and I was wisked off to the top floor of the house to visit with their son weaving on a large loom. it took up the whole  room.  He was weaving to sell to the local store.  Beautiful work.

In those days you could bring anything on a plane, the bottom part and legs were packed in my suitcase but the wheel itself was too large for a suitcase so I brought in onboard and put it under the seat. James is gone now but on my next trip to Donegal I plan to stop in the shop and visit with his son.  Check out their website at








Mrs. Brown and I made a quick trip back to the vets to get some eye ointment and I watched Dr. COnnor give her the meds.  I was having such a hard time getting the meds into Hazel and Mrs. Brown.  I think I have got it now.  She is glad to be home.

Many thanks for taking the time to read my blog today and I hope you have a wonderful day.  Carole



6 responses

21 11 2013
Anne Wilson I think is the correct website Carole. It looks a fascinating place to visit, maybe next summer we will visit him.

21 11 2013

You are so right I saw the spelling error late last night.They are wonderful people and the area beautiful, just like all of Ireland. Every part of Ireland is different. Donegal is a wild place in its weather and its beauty. I enjoyed writing that piece so much. I wanted to share my time with the Shield’s and the beauty of the wheels he and his sons make. We are so lucky to have such people who take the time to make one wheel at a time.
My best to you and your family Anne.

23 10 2015
George Doherty

How strange,
I was born in the little end terrace house to the lower left of shields house.
James,s father was called Jimmy. He was a little old wizen man in his 50s when I knew him. He was always busy making Spinning wheels, barrows and barrels. In those days his workshop was in their cellar, below the house. Jimmy was small but James was a big man well over 6feet, With big broad shoulders. I remember he wore folded down wellies a lot,especially coming back from the hill on his bike,after cutting turf. He looked a lot like Robert Mitchum.
Way back then, James could not stay at home. he was off to England to work. I remember the tears and the upset as he was leaving. His kids would have been very small, toddlers, but his wife,as nice quiet woman was distraught for days after he had gone. James,s mam was a great big strong woman. These are memories that i carry with me. They were good neighbours. I left Carn when i was 17 years old. It was a good move. There was nothing in Carn back then but religious persecution and a mortal dose of overbearing clergy. The Carn Clergy ,especially the teaching clergy were the rejects of the North,especially Derry and Cookstown, They would not be allowed to teach anyplace else. There was only one decent priest among the lot and his name was Fr Kevin McKenna. He was a decent man but the rest were pompous overbearing violent clowns.
I still think of the times that i had to witness my friends being beaten to a bloody pulp. I am not exaggerating. These were my friends, the ones I grew up with. Most of them had never been beaten in their lives till they went to school in the Colgan hall. They could not cover up or duck. My old Daddy gave me all the experience I needed to dodge a hammering and I used it to full effect in the classroom,Then one day “Charles” as my cousin Bridie called him, got lucky and busted my nose, I ff,ed him and got barred from the maths class and it was all downhill after that. I started college in the Colgan hall,the first year it opened..and wasted a good 2 years of my life there but I learned that the Church can shelter the most despicable bunch of misfits and sell them as role models human being.
I lived beside the Shield,s family for the first 9 years of my life and then moved down the hill to Kearny,s old post office where we lived till I turned 17.
Carn was a close knit community,with everybody knowing everybody else,s business.I sometimes go back there to have a peek. The last time I went back, I dropped in to see Nasheen. I did not have a lot of time to talk and he was in a kind of shock..I should have stayed longer,
We grew up together.Went fishing together. Went robbing apples together, and had some really good laughs. The laughing stopped when we went to college in the Colgan Hall.
Life can take strange turns. The years went by. i made sure that my own kids would never be bothered by the kind of freaks that were sent to teach me. I kept a strict eye on that side of things. My kids all graduated without the help of a the clergy. I made sure of it. I am not complaining or about to lodge any kind of official complaint, I am just telling it as it was, Like Brian Harkin once said to my son and myself, referring to the college,
“Jeeeezes!! George,,We should have had some form of counselling when we left that hellhole”. I got a good laugh at that. Laughing does help.
George Doherty.

23 10 2015

When I last visited the shields his workshop was down in the basement and to the back. We were treated like family when we went to pick up our spinning wheels Thank you so much for sharing all about your life in that town. I hope to make one more trip to Donegal, maybe next year
I have been there three times and Donegal is my favorite county in Ireland. The people and the beauty will stay with me always.
It was such a treat to hear about your town

12 11 2015
George Doherty

Hi again,
Just this morning, i thought on the one time neighbours next door in Carn. i got James,s dad,s name wrong. I think it was Johnny. So the very first line in my monologue proved to be Sorry about that,

12 11 2015

Hello George,
I knew him as Jame Shield, Johnny might have been his real name but it was James that was listed in the book. I and others enjoyed reading your comment

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