The pandemic has posed many unexpected challenges to people across the country and every day people were – and still are – sadly losing their lives to the disease. Life as we knew it has been suspended. Temporarily, at least.
But even in what has seemed like a nightmare situation, there have been uplifting tales of people being creative in countless different ways while isolating at home.
Zara Nugent, who grew up in Oughterard and now living in Salthill, used lockdown to begin a momentous new project which has the potential to change her life.
“Granny taught me how to knit when I was eight years old and I haven’t been without a pair of needles in my hand ever since,” says Zara, who became unemployed around six months ago, just before the pandemic.
She always toyed with the idea of selling her knitwear, but questioned if anyone would buy her products with the vast array of other options already available, and she kept the dream in the pipeline.
In the meantime, she carried on knitting, and gave her knits away as presents to others.
“A friend had a baby recently, her first little boy,” Zara says. She decided to knit him a little mustard and cream cardigan to grow into.
“One day, my friend said she loves the cardigan so much, it always gets so many compliments, and listed all the reasons why it was fantastic. She said I should start selling them!
“Having heard this said before, something moved me this time. Somehow, with her words in my ears, it felt like I could actually do it!”
Zara’s friend gave great words of encouragement and advice – and the Galway knitter is now ready to take the leap and take action.
Her new company, which will sell traditional knitwear, is named after Roeillaun, one of the islands on Lough Corrib. It was the name given to the house that her grandad built with his brother after he married her granny, and Zara lived there when she was younger.
But as anyone who has started a business knows, it can cost money to get started. To cover the the start up costs, Zara set up a GoFundMe page – which now has received over €2,500 in donations.
Donations will go towards purchasing a wholesale quantity of wool to create the first garments, buying labels and buttons, website costs for establishing and operating an online shop and hiring a photographer to take great images of the items, for the website, marketing and social media platforms.
“Hand knitting is part of our heritage, and so I will be carrying on our cultural legacy, an Irish designer working with Irish wool spun in County Donegal, creating a 100% Irish product in a time-honoured way,” Zara added.
“I will hand knit children’s clothes using Irish wool and continue its concept to be based on the beauty of the West of Ireland.”