This week sees the launch of the Irish Made Awards 2021. The pandemic has seen a notable shift in consumer behaviour towards buying locally and choosing products that are made here in Ireland. With hopes running high that life will return to some sort of normality by September, this year’s Awards, now in their fifth year, are arguably more important than ever.

The Awards platform helps to continue highlighting the immense talent and quality of goods produced by Irish creators and makers.

We spoke to last year’s Irish Made Awards winner, Joe Queenan of Foxford Woollen Mills, on what the last year has been like for his business and the platform that the Irish Made Awards provides to all those who enter.

Foxford Woollen Mills has been weaving traditional throws in Co Mayo since 1892

. Local man Joe Queenan took on the brand in the 1980s, developing the business into the modern facility it is today. All of this, while continuing to celebrate the tradition and craftsmanship Foxford is known for.

Today, the mill creates a contemporary and affordable range of throws, scarves and baby blankets; still produced in the same weaving and finishing sheds since the business began. Foxford is a brand that has stayed true to its roots, with interactive tours at the mill, the café and homewares store, it’s a must-visit destination in Mayo.

To find out more and enter the Irish Made Awards 2021, see

Joe Queenan

Managing director, Foxford Woollen Mills

Why do you think the Irish Made Awards are important?

The Irish Made Awards showcase the creativity, talent and innovation right on our doorstep. The global pandemic has taught us the value of ‘local’ in every sense of the word. Shopping locally and choosing Irish-made products stimulates the local economy and creates employment, which helps local communities survive and thrive. The Irish Made Awards give a voice to Irish businesses that may not otherwise be heard.

Where do your designers get their inspiration from?

Our sense of place, reflected by the lakes and mountains of the west of Ireland, forms the core of any new collection we produce and is the main source of inspiration for our designers.

What is the best thing about weaving a Foxford product here in Ireland?

We are proud to be continuing a heritage of unbroken mill production since 1892. It gives a sense of identity to the town of Foxford, provides local employment and brings visitors to the area.

What is the most challenging aspect of producing your products in Ireland?

Ireland is a relatively high-cost location; particularly for textiles. While the small size of the overall industry in the country means that skills and expertise are at a premium. I hope the trend towards Irish-made will encourage more people to learn our craft.

Have there been any silver-linings to the pandemic for Foxford?

Our investment in the brand’s ecommerce capabilities over the last 12 months has accelerated our online growth. This would have taken years under normal circumstances. The sizeable shift in Irish consumer behaviour to buy local amidst the pandemic – and now Brexit – has helped hugely.

What was the last thing you bought and loved?

Harper, our beloved family dog!