Brenden, the last shoemaker in Ireland

Through a mutual friend, I came to know of Brenden, who makes lovely stitch-down shoes that are sold in a craft shop in County Cork. He is perhaps the last shoemaker in Ireland, outside of those who make orthopedic shoes. That’s a pretty sad thought, since I am sure a generation or two ago there was at least one in every village. Perhaps the tide is turning, and local makers will again be sufficiently-valued, so that they will be able to sustain themselves and their families.

Brenden sent a few photos to me of his shoemaking process, and once I had the pleasure of asking him questions on the telephone. I modeled the “Irish Field Boot”, also known in Slow Shoes for Women as the low derby boot, after his boots.

I have scrutinized these photos, especially because I see some machinery that I do not have and wish that I did. One is an “out-stitching machine” that appears to let him stitch the sole t   o the upper very close in around the lasted shoe. The other seems to be a hand-made machine that puts pressure on the newly-adhered-sole, strengthening the bond.