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our story

Our Story

My brother is an artist, has an artist’s eye for beauty. Often a thing will catch his eye and, on impulse, he’ll photograph, film, sketch or buy it. The bag we’ve come to know just as the barrel bag was one such purchase. The bag was presented first to my mother who later passed it on to me.  I loved the bag, its unusual shape and classic texture, from the first time I saw it and so it took me a while to realise that there was anything unusual in the number of compliments I regularly received on it. In my twenties and thirties I travelled as often as possible, as far as possible. Traditional Irish music was my social passport bringing me to New York, Australia, The Gambia and Iceland among others. The barrel bag came with me – a safe store for my personal belongings. Later my life became more settled, the journeys I took were less dramatic. Passport and boarding pass gave way to car keys and children’s sunscreen. The barrel bag remained with me, seasoned but solid. Compliments continued and people would often ask where they could get one. The answer seemed to be: nowhere. The original bag was handmade, perhaps a one-off item. The shop that had sold it was long gone. I began to think about making the bag myself, reviving it. I started with a few prototypes, made from saddle leather, rough and robust. These sold over time – my first customers. But I realised that I needed to somehow reflect the elegant form of the bag in its construction. I began to learn about patterns and embossing, rivets and stitching. I spoke to shoemakers, leather workers, designers and machinists. With all this research I travelled to Dublin. I returned to Galway with a tightly rolled leather hide, a beautiful tanned scroll, heavy and dense, pitted and textured, which unrolled to reveal a relief map that plotted its own journey. With a newly developed pattern, the first of the next generation of barrel bags were cut and stitched from this. With more research I was able to source finer, vegetable tanned Italian leathers, the leather used in the bags we offer today. The current barrel bag, in a range of colours, updated, hand-stitched and embossed with the Lovern logo, stays true to that ultimate test: catching my brother’s eye. Please let me know if anything about it catches yours.   Sincerely,

our story
our story galway barrel bag