Gaeltarra Eireann's Crolly Dollies
"Gaeltarra Eireann, a State sponsored body, dates back to a humble start, in an old coastguard station in Elly Bay, Co Donegal, at the end of 1937. At that time, it was probably the only company making toys in Ireland. At first they imported components and had them assembled by staff specially trained by the local Vocational Education Committee. With the start of the second world war they began to manufacture as many components as possible and shortly after that, the industry moved to a building erected by the Congested District Board in the early 1900s on the representations of Cardinal O'Donnell, in Crolly, Co Donegal. By the mid-1940s sixty Irish-speaking girls in orange-tinted uniforms turned out ten thousand dozen dollies yearly; a half million yards of material arrived in bales and left as dolls, supplying the home market and a substantial export market in the UK and US. Their success continued to grow, and in 1968 Gaeltarra Eireann's Crolly Dolls outpaced the mass-produced dolls of firms from all over Europe. Orders rolled in from buyers for firms in Sweden, Cyprus, Australia, Canada, the US and South America, as well as from many European countries, with exports worth £1½ million. At first, the dolls were made of soft materials, then came the hard bodied dolls, made from a mixture of wood-flour and resins, and those with composition heads and bodies stuffed with wool flock, wood wool or kapok. For a short time, papier mache was used for doll's bodies but then the technique of blow moulding was introduced, Gaeltarra Eireann being the first manufacturer in Ireland or the United Kingdom to use it. The advantages of these blow moulded plastic bodies was that they were hollow inside so, even big dolls could be made light for children to carry. The next innovation was the use of rotational casting of P.V.C., giving the dolls a soft flesh-like appearance and skin which could be penetrated by the needles used to sew the hair. The Crolly Doll factory closed for good in 1979 however, the dolls are still popular and collectable. "