- Nov 21, 2014
The Irish adoption of the kilt was part of the home rule movement, and they were divided on the issue. Some of the home rule politicians embraced it in sort of a "pan Gael" attitude, others said it would be better to go out without pants at all! Ireland was poor, and never really developed a historical folkloric costume. Going barefoot without hose was called "Irish style" as far back as the reign of Elizabeth I. The Irish brogan was recognized as distinctive, but face it, crude sandals made by wrapping rawhide around your feet and lacing them is not attractive. In the 18th century, it seems to have been an Irish distinctive to wear clothes that didn't fit very well - either too big or too small (probably owning to them being second hand to the wearer). By the 19th century, the caricature of the Irishman in a green tailcoat and top hat or bowler - like on the Lucky Charms box - became cemented in the popular memory.The typical Irish garment was the léine of linen, which typically fell to a hand-width above the knee, or below the knee. Over the linen tunic a cow hide or woolen cloak or woolen brat secured with brooch or pins. The triubhas or trews were known, but as is readily apparent in this sixteenth-century image of Hapsburg mercenaries, not necessarily worn. The size of the zweihändschwert or great-sword is apparently exaggerated. The two figures on the right are kern, the three more heavily armed and armored men galloglass. Some of these virtuosos of violence hailed from the Hebrides and were of Norse descent.
We now return to the regularly scheduled U.S. Civil War discussion of how people of Irish and Scottish and Scots Irish or Ulster Scot descent wore the same garments and clothing of the time period of the mid-19th century...
So, for Civil War impressions: keep your pants on!