Isa sings at The Shipyard!

Many thanks to all at The Derry Post for giving us permission to share their article on how Berlin’s favourite folk musician, Isabel Neuenfeldt, made time within her whirlwind visit to us here at The Mill  to sing to the beleaguered workers of Harland & Wolff Shipyard.

Click to download article in pdf format

Open Day – last minute news!

Friends, valued customers, fellow crafters and textile-workers!

Many of you have read the Open Day Programme and Concert Programme, and seen the numerous reports in the media – the 26th Open Day and Yard Fest are taking shape; preparations are at the “all hands on” stage now.

This is but a small selection of spectacular late news, of course we are keeping a batch of real “gems” in the back of our long sleeves. Enjoy reading and make sure you pass this on to a friend or two.

Before your do, please remember:
Bookings are coming in extremely heavy at this stage – make sure you tell us about extra folks who want to come with you!

Especially the talks will be packed – anybody who hasn’t booked with us will not get in!

Maria Cardenas is showing one creation!
The master-tailor from Colombia with a base in Co. Down came “on board” late due to a lengthy period in her home country and a very big work load. She will join our other special guest – designers (see programme) showing one bespoke piece. Welcome back Maria!

Courtney Crawford – 4 generations in linen!
The 10-year-old from Portadown will show a creation which I made from linen woven by her great-grandfather! Iconic weaver and ex-manager of Blackers Mill, Jim Mather will be with his great-granddaughter on the day.

Helen Keys in the driving – seat!
The university lecturer from Moneymore and flax-grower will be this year’s compere of the Fashion Show. She is stepping into “big boots” – last year Duncan Neil, creative director at William Clarks, was our compere, the year before the amazing Helen Mark (BBC) did the job. We really wanted Helen Keys this time, she combines great knowledge on the raw material with a wonderful appearance.

– Straw Dolls by Gerry Bond!
The spinner of distinction from Magilligan has an unrivalled collection of dolls he made plus he is bringing some Flax dolls from Russia. You haven’t seen anything like it!

Flax Mill’s talking!
We have added – due to up-to-date circumstances – a talk on the Shipyard.
Ernest Walker from Sheffield, now based in Belfast, a life-long union activist and metal-worker will speak on “Can the Shipyard be saved?” As all talks this one will be packed – booking essential.

Here is a list of all talks and special events in the order of running:
1. Talking Shipyard at 12 noon in the mill cottage, orator: Ernest Walker.
2. Fashion Show at 1pm in the marquee behind the cottage (booked out at this stage, we could “squeeze in” one or two whoever comes first…).
3. Talking Linen and Poetry through the ages by Bruce Clark at 2.30pm in the mill cottage.
4. Talking dyeing with natural materials (Christine Casey / Sarah Foster-Jarden) at their stall in front of the mill – they will talk several times, just go there and find out!

– Exhibition of photographs by Bernard S. Davis in the conservatory. I have put this together to show Bernard’s amazing contribution to our Open Day and Yard Fest over the years.

– Last but certainly not least: My sister Heike Baur is jetting in from Hamburg to join our catering brigade. Heike is a highly qualified chef and will “put the hat on” making sure our guests get the usual superb dinner and buffet! She has never cooked at a Yard Fest – never could make the time. WELCOME HEIKE!

This is by far not all the late news, just a little selection to water your mouth!

Excitement is growing, I can’t wait to put my arms around you again!

Love over Gold


ps.++++++ Late News ++++++
News has just come in that Flax Mill will be live on BBC Radio Ulster on the Morning of the Open Day. Make sure you listen to “Your Place and Mine” with the great Anne Marie Mc Aleese!

There’s power in the Union!


between two mail-shots, here is some very up – to date information you should have. I want to give this to you as personal as can be done in a mail, not as part of a newsletter!

I went to the Shipyard in Belfast yesterday to let the workers know that many people here in the North – West and especially all of us who are concerned with textile-making at Flax Mill are on their side and find their brave struggle to keep the world’s oldest shipyard, the jobs there – an incredibly valuable part of our history – encourageing and admirable.

A suggestion of our team at the mill was to present the workers and their union at the gate of H&W with a piece of Irish Linen and some red carnations (the symbol of worker’s struggle). We chose a hand-woven linen tea towel. Two great artists in Cookstown, Fiona and Tony hand-painted the union slogan “keep the shipyard – renationalise it” on the piece.
When I got there, Helen, a friend and great linen lover (and flax producer) had already left the towel at the gate – it was hung on the wall of the workers kitchen.

The response of the colleagues at the gate was one of unbelievable friendliness, they thanked me and were very emotional about our activity.
What impressed me most was the 100 % presence and support by all the shipyard workers and the flood of messages of solidarity by now from literally all over the world.

After detailed talks to some workers and their union reps I met a group of tourists on my way to the train station. They were shown all sorts of “Game of Thrones” bits and pieces, the “Titanic centre” etc. but nobody had told them about the struggle of the workers around the corner. It showed the almost surreal way, media operate, hiding the truth rather than spreading it.

Not all of them though:

– I would like to thank all those who reported on our activity, especially the editor of the “County Derry Post”, Orla Mullan, who ran our full press-release in this week’s edition (see below for link to pdf-format copy).

– Thanks also to Tony and Fiona from Cookstown who did the design on the tea towel, they have a lot on their plate, dropped everything to do this.

– Thanks to Helen from Moneymore. Between pulling flax in the endless rain and work at Queens University she found the time to go up to the shipyard with the tea towel.

– Thanks to Joe Bowers – who knows the Shipyard very well – for all the background information.

– Most of all thanks to the many who “equipped” me with messages of support when I went to Belfast.

What can we learn from this?
If the workers at H&W hadn’t taken control of the gates, the yard would be gone by now – it’s not and it will depend on the strength and determination of our colleagues and their unions and on the support they get, whether the struggle can be finally won!
It is looking good at this point – the many seem to be able to show the few their place for once – very encouraging!

Love over Gold

Marion Baur

Talk at the Flax Mill Open Day on Saturday, September 14th: Can the Shipyard be saved?
We have invited Ernest Walker from Belfast to give us a talk on the subject. Ernest has been in engineering all his working life, is a union activist and has been a worker’s representative for many years.
All details: Our coming newsletter with the latest news on Open Day and Yard Fest!
Book your place at this talk now – the interest is very big!
It will take place at 12 noon in the mill cottage.
Click to download Derry Post article on the shipyard in pdf format

Important news before all goes mad at Flax Mill


A month from today before the 26th Flax Mill Open Day and Yard Fest on September 14th are going to rock the old place one more time again!

We will send out our newsletter with all the “last minute stuff”, special guests etc… in 2 weeks time.

In the meantime we thought a bit of information from behind the scene at the mill and a few spectacular news – snippets would find your interest.

Before we do that (in a straight mail this time, just to save a bit of time which it always takes, putting “Flax Mill News” together):

The very best regards to you – wherever you may be at this point – and let me tell you: I am getting very excited about meeting you again during our Open Day and Fest!

World-Premiere – amazing interview out in the media this week.
Most of you have read the programme(s) and are aware about the unique cooperation between Berlin singer/songwriter/accordionist Isabel Neuenfeld and local writer/composer Joe Kelly!

“Caring for the Green” is now complete – we won’t hear the melody until Isabel steps out onto the stage but the lyrics are here (see back page of the concert-programme). Isa has given Hermann an interview which is absolutely amazing and will hit the media this week. Indeed the “County Derry Post” has it first (out yesterday). Not surprising – they first published Joe’s original version of the lyrics which Isa added to since.
We have not experienced as big an interest in anything that happened here – dozens upon dozens of mails show how serious the climate – disaster is being taken by people and also how big the need is for the arts – scene to make a statement!

The concert during the Yard Fest will be even more packed than usual and I would urge those who haven’t clearly told us that they are staying for the evening gig to do it right now!!
We are going to call it “booked out” very shortly!

Anyone who can’t get the “Post”, let us know, we’ll try and get one to you.

Fashion Show booked out!
Technically “Northern Ireland’s only real alternative Cat – Walk” is booked out – the marquee just won’t hold any more than we have on the list! We have kept a few places “in the back of the sleeve” – if you aren’t sure whether you are “in” contact us now!

Maria Cardenas is back!
The great tailor from Colombia with a base in County Down turned visitor’s heads last year with a white linen dress she showed during the Fashion Show. A bit late – due to a pile of work and a long time in Colombia – she has asked us now to be one of our “Special Guest Designers” again. Of course we were delighted and gave her a “yes” though she isn’t mentioned on the Fashion Show Flyer.
Please pass this information on to many friends!
We don’t know what she will be showing – we do know it’s going to be beautiful! Alongside Sarah Foster-Jarden, Catherine Thompson, Christine Casey and Sarah Logan, Maria is a great completion of our list of special guests who show one bespoke creation each.

So much for now,



The Open Day 2019 Programmes are here!

Without further ado, download full details about the big day at The Flax Mill on Saturday 14th of September  in the Open Day and Evening Concert programmes below. Further news and announcements can be found on our Open Day 2019 webpage.

Open Day Programme 2019 (click to download in pdf format)


Concert Programme 2019 (click to download in pdf format)


Praise for Open Day 2019 support of beetling

We are pleased to share the comments of two members of The Clark Family, Bruce and Tim,  in praise of our continuing campaign to promote beetling as a desirable and environmentally friendly means to improve the lustre and appearance of our linen. Hermann describes the benefits of beetling in the essay of the Open Day 2019 theme, “In Praise of the Wooden Block“. Find Bruce and Tim’s thoughts on the essay below.


Dear Hermann, Marion and Tim

Can I add my own words of thanks and hearty agreement with Hermann’s essay in praise of the wooden block?

Every time I drop into the Flax Coffee Shop I feel a surge of pleasure as the rumble of the beetling engines reaches my ears. I warmly congratulate all those who have been involved in the noble task of saving beetling in the nick of time.

As my own small contribution to celebrating this important part of our heritage, I have encouraged a local seamstress and craft worker, Jill Gurney, to design some item which shows off the “dry-beetling” finish to good event. She has created an attractive A5-sized linen pouch and I am glad to say that it is selling briskly at Ardtara, the Flax Coffee Shop and a couple of local guest houses.

Tim will have long forgotten this but when we were all at primary school he had a particular liking for a hymn whose chorus was: “You in your small corner, and I in mine!….”

So, over 50 years on, let me happily repeat those words….”You in your small corner, and I in mine…..”

very best to all



Dear Hermann and Marion,

Just a quite email to thank you for your supportive words and for including us in your excellent initiative “In praise of the wooden block”.

As you may have heard, we have recently completed the creation of a new beetling beam in house at William Clark and Sons, this having purchased a beech log from a timber yard, turned this down on our giant lathe, fitted the rings and gudgeons and installed this onto one of the Road Engines…

Here’s wishing you good luck for your Open Day.

Thank you again,

With best regards,


Game of Thrones and a few other news


just at the verge of getting ready for the Shanes Castle event we have a huge mail-volume here. Many of your questions and requests will be dealt with in the new “FLAX MILL NEWS” which is going out in German tomorrow and in English on Tuesday the 7th of May.

Here are a few quick bullet points – many of you will be at Shanes Castle and we can chat details there.

– The (ever alert) County Derry Post is carrying a feature in this week’s edition (out yesterday) about our involvement with “Game of Thrones” and our common initiative with the makers to reduce global warming.
Good reading, I know many of you have already done so (the responses are here….). Anyone who hasn’t – get the Post before it’s sold out (in Dungiven it is) or give us a ring and we’ll try and get one over to Shanes Castle for you.
– There have been questions regarding my presence at the ICTU May Day Rally on Saturday, some people seem to think because we are demonstrating at Shanes Castle, I won’t be there.
Of course I will be! The rally starts at 11 am at the arts college and I will be there, most likely selling a good paper! You’ll find me!

Last Minute News!!!
-We just got confirmation that the incredible singer SAL HANVEY will be performing at the 26th Yard Fest on September 14th 2019.
All details on that and more when we meet up and when FLAX MILL NEWS goes out next week.

Speak to you soon

love over gold,


any more orders to be brought to Shanes Castle, please ring us rather than e-mail, our presence at the computer will be patchy from now on

The Days and the Hours

Flax Mill News Flax Mill News Flax Mill News Flax Mill News

Derrylane, Dungiven, Dec. 17th 2018

“…The days and the hours soon turn into seasons
The months and the weeks soon turn into years….”

Writing this “end of year 2018” newsletter called for the quote from a song by the giant Scottish singer Dick Gaughan. When you look at the fact that the Open Day/Yard Fest in September was number 25 (!!) you wonder: Where have the seasons gone?

Before we give you a first outlook onto number 26 (maybe not the definitely last one – but one of them….) and a few memorable “highlights” of the year, I’d like to say this:

From all of us here at Flax Mill the very best wishes to you. Have a joyful end of the old and a good start of the New Year!

May peace and joy be with you all!

For us 2018 will go into the “archives” as a year we won’t call superb but one we won’t have major complaints about either (mind you, this could have been much different, had Hermann’s severe injury not been so quickly and fully cured…).

Before we talk “26 = 30” here are – totally random – a few “key happenings” of 2018:

  • – Our good friends Steff and Stoib got married (hard to believe) – proper viking – style of course.
  • – Our good friend Rainer turned up at the Yard Fest despite very severe illness, his surprise gig during the concert will remain unforgotten!
  • – Our good friend David, legendary blacksmith and – with his daughter Danna – several times demonstrating crafter at the Open Day died totally unexpected in November.
  • – Our good friend Jim took the pilot seat at one of our looms this Open Day – at 76 he’s coming out of retirement!
  • – Our daughter Fiona is expecting her second child; from next April on, young Farrah will have a brother or a sister!
  • – Travis qualified for the world championship in Darts (under 18).
  • – Our new web-page is proving a full success – tribute to the skills of Tiernan Stuart.
  • – Our “commission spinner” Christine has been supplying us with the most amazing hand-spun and hand-dyed yarn for the full year now. In our range of woollen blankets, it makes for super pieces, demand is very hard to fulfil.
  • – From the beginning of this month, the car has a brake here – Bicycles are the means of transport at Flax Mill. We feel that talking climate and environment is one thing – “doing what we say” is more important!
  • – Hermann is back to writing. After a break which had been caused by both frustration and health problems, he is lifting the pen again. Last articles:
    Gleicher Gegner”, in German, “Unsere Zeit”, Dec. 7th.
    Before that a much commented on interview with Deborah Toner “Knowing the Hands that touched it”, in English, “County Derry Post”.
    His next projects: An interview with Jeremy Corbyn and a feature on the situation in Bangladesh.

So much for “looking back”, here are the first snippets of information on Open Day and Yard Fest number 26 on Saturday, September 14th 2019!
After the huge success of no. 25 – both in numbers and content – with a boiling atmosphere, we are sitting here, steam coming out of our heads. To try and top what happened this year is a “Mountain to climb”. We will manage though!!

  • – For the concert we have one definitive returner on stage already booked: Isabel Neuenfeldt (Berlin)! It had to be done, after the dream – performance last September!
  • – We are “working at” a very big musical act for 2019, here are – exclusively for you – a few names we are talking to:
    The Sands Family, Cara Dillon, Arlo Guthrie (!!) and/or his daughter Sarah – Lee Guthrie….
    By the middle of January, we aim to have the line up on stage tied up, wish us luck!
  • – On the crafters – side we are delighted that all but 2 of the 20 visiting master crafters of this year have already applied for a stall! That makes for the fastest ever “booked out” Open Day ever
    Note for crafters: If you are not sure whether your name is on the list, give us a buzz very soon!
  • – One spectacular newcomer on the textile – side of thing was confirmed just a few days ago: Carol Barras, owner of the famous “Maggie Collins Collection” label will take a stall and be one of our “special guest designers” during the Fashion Show.
  • – Talking about it: Vasiliki Carson, Greek beauty with a base in Belfast will take to the cat – walk!!

Enough to water your mouth?

Needless to say that I would love to meet you long before September 14th 2019! Keep in touch, let us know how life is treating you and don’t forget: Our door is open for you at any time!!

Love over Gold!