Ireland may be a rather small European country but offers a wide variety of beautifully crafted and high quality items, some of them like Irish wool accessories, crystal glassware woven linen products are famous worldwide. You can easily bring extra suitcase with fine Irish wool sweaters, stylish home accessories and delicious food if you’re ready to splash some extra cash. Having said that though, everyone can find a traditional souvenir adequate to given budget which makes shopping in Ireland a very nice experience. Living in the era of mass production I’m always trying to bring from my travels items which are handmade, locally produced and traditional. During my search for unique pieces I often visit flea markets and local workshops. For major souvenir shopping I recommend Dublin where you will find most of the items listed here. In Ireland there is also a chain of stores called Carrolls which sells typical Irish souvenir, this is a great choice if you want to go just to one place to purchase gifts. For bigger variety of a specific product, go to the boutique which sells uniquely certain type of items (sweaters, crystals, sweets, etc.). Personally, I’m also a big fun of gift shops in the castles and gardens which are opened for visitors all over Ireland. The premises often sell food products made of ingredients coming from their gardens, you will also find here carefully selected high quality items since the shop reflects reputation of the estate and the family who owns it.
In this post I will give you a list of 15 authentic quality souvenirs you can bring from Ireland which will remind you beautiful moments in this charming country or make your loved ones smile when receiving the gift.
- Traditional Irish sweater
Irish sweaters are famous and demanded all over the world. One of the most characteristic is Aran jumper with cable patters on the body and sleeves. The sweaters are known to be very warm and durable. You will easily find many different patterns and types of Irish sweaters all over Dublin. Remember to always read the label to confirm that the garment is 100% wool or a good quality wool blend and made in Ireland to ensure you purchase the authentic product. If you travel around Ireland you can visit towns where the sweaters are made and buy directly from the local producer. For good quality sweater prices start from 80 euro.
- Irish wool accessories
If you search for smaller woolen garments, you can purchase comfy warm socks, colorful long wool scarfs, gloves, hats and many other small accessories which you will appreciate during colder months in a year. I bought few pairs of thick Irish wools socks for myself and my family and they really keep the feet warm. Similarly as when buying Irish sweaters, always check if the items are 100% wool or consist of a wool blend (at least 60% of wool) and are made in Ireland to ensure you buy good quality and authentic product.
If you search for practical gifts and want your home accessories to be made of natural materials then thick and warm wool blankets woven in of the Irish mills is a very good choice. Always check the composition of blanket to ensure it’s made of wool or wool blend. Good quality items often have labels which contain information about the mill where they were woven. The products differ in thickness so choose the one which is more suitable to your needs (the thicker the blanket, the warmer it is).
Probably the most signature souvenir you can bring from Ireland is famous Irish whisky which is highly appreciated all over the world. Some type of whisky are not exported or sold only in few countries outside of Ireland so the visit can be a good opportunity to bring with you the beverage which is not available where you live. If you don’t know which whisky to buy, I suggest trying few in traditional Irish pubs which is a great experience on its own. You can also visit one (or more) Irish distilleries which offer guided visits with tastings and there try different types of whisky. After few samplings you can finally purchase your favourite bottle of this famous Irish beverage. Best prices are probably offered in large supermarkets, however for fancier type of whisky you will need to visit more specialized store or the shop in the distillery (but there they will obviously sell only their whisky).
Another beverage Ireland is proud of is cider. You can purchase a bottle of traditional Irish cider in any larger supermarket or in specialized store for more artisanal types. This beverage has a long history in Ireland, already in the 18th century it was appreciated because of its quality and economic significance. Since the Irish climate is mild and temperate with relatively frequent rain, this affects the taste of apples (acidity/sweetness) which in result determines the cider’s flavour. In order to choose right type of cider to bring home, try few types in the local pubs or get small bottles in the supermarket and make your final choice after small sampling.
This make look at first as rather unusual souvenir but if you come to Ireland in spring or summer you will see how the whole island is bathed in the small colorful wild flowers. Irish people love nature and have a lot of flowers in their private gardens a as well as public places. You can admire Irish beautiful gardens when visiting the castles; guided tours in the interiors usually last around 1 hour and then one spends another 2 enjoying adjacent parks. You will find flower seeds in some of the gift shops during your visit in the castles’ gardens or in specialized stores. If you’re interested in gardening in the gift shops I found interesting books about Irish plants and gardens with many practical tips one can use for their own green space. Before buying the flower seeds, make sure what are the requirements for the plant to grow. Plants which are suitable for Irish climate may not cope well in the Mediterranean conditions. I advise a quick Google search before your purchase.
If you search for high quality crystals accessories for your home such as vases, glasses, or bar accessories Ireland is a good place for a shopping. The most reputed Irish crystal producer is Waterford, the origins of crystal production in Waterford dates back to 1783. The brand is valued since years with Waterford’s chandeliers hanging in Westminster Abbey, Windsor Castle and the Kennedy Center in Washington. With a high level craftsmanship and excellent reputation, the items are quite pricey, you can always check few stores and the online shop to check current promotions. You can also buy crystal items from less known factories, the biggest choice of brands and products you will have in Dublin. Crystal glassware and other home accessories can be a beautiful classy souvenir which is practical and can serve you for decades. Before making your purchase think well about transportation issues, crystals have tendency to break in thousands of small pieces if handled without extra care.
If you like reading books, you’ll enjoy a visit to a local bookstore filled with books in English. When visiting foreign countries I usually see plenty of interesting titles, albums, often some limited editions but I can’t buy them because I don’t know the language. Since you’re reading this blog I bet you’re also fine with reading books in English so visit few stores to look for interesting titles. Many bookstores feature Irish literature on separate shelves so you can easier navigate yourself. Of course, big stores have wide selection of international literature translated to English.
When in Dublin, I recommend checking out a very charming bookstore Hodges Figgis which happens to be the oldest bookshop in Ireland dating back to 1768. The location is very comfortable since it’s a few minute walk away from the Trinity College.
An excellent souvenir or gift to a family member of friend will be a piece of jewellery made of silver. You will find many interesting designs, most traditional having patters related to the Celtic culture. You can search for Claddagh jewellery, Celtic knot patterns or pieces with Celtic cross. You will also find many contemporary pieces and not relating to old traditions. Since silversmiths are present in Ireland since centuries, you will easily find here high quality, carefully crafted items which will remind you about the country every day you put your jewellery on. I recommend checking for your perfect item in Dublin, however small artisanal workshops can be found all around the country.10. Box of scones
A scone is a traditional slightly sweetened baked good which is made of wheat or oatmeal. Scones are equally popular in Great Britain and are important part of famous afternoon tea ritual was started in England by Anna, the Duchess of Bedford, in the year 1840. Traditionally, servants were bringing the tea accompanied by sandwiches and sweets. Nowadays, you will find many tea houses serving the tea accompanied with scones often served with butter and jams and cream. In the bakeries as well as in the airport shops you will find packages with scones (without butter, jams and creams) which are easy to transport back home. To ensure freshness, I recommend buying the scones on the day of departure (most conveniently in the airport but the prices will be slightly higher, also they may be not available in the particular airport).
Irish shortbread is a type of biscuit usually made from butter, white sugar and wheat flour. This is a tasty comfort cookie which goes nicely with coffee, tea or a cup of hot milk. The box of traditional Irish shortbread is easily available in any bigger supermarket, you can also find it in souvenir shops, artisanal bakeries or Irish food specialized stores. You won’t have much problem to purchase the biscuits in the airport neither. A package of unopened cookies remains a good quality for about 6 to 9 months wand is a gift which is easy to transport and you don’t need to worry about its freshness which is the case for scones.
If you like bringing food from your trips you can search for high quality Irish jams (which can accompany your scones when having your afternoon tea!). Irish love gardens and nature and produce excellent jams and confitures from fruits coming from forest or local gardens. Search in speciality food stores or in the bigger supermarkets for high quality jams made in Ireland. Always check the list of ingredient to verify the concentration of fruits and sugar.
Guinness is an Irish dry stout produced since more than 250 years! The beer originated in the brewery of Arthur Guinness at St. James’s Gate, Dublin, Ireland, in 1759. If you plan to travel in Ireland by train, when getting out from the Heuston train station you will notice big Guiness factory where the beer is still produced. I find that Guiness in Ireland is tastier than abroad, most probably that it is served very fresh. If Guiness is not widely available in much your country or more expensive, you can buy it as a souvenir. The big chance is that the beer was bottled recently so you can still enjoy its freshness when back home.
If you prefer to bring non-alcoholic beverages a dense fruity syrup or juice is a varey good choice. You can search for high quality pressed apple, elderflower or cranberry juices (or syrups) and there will be many other types of them that mentioned here. Choose juices which are made of plants that naturally grow in Ireland. As always before purchasing food, check the ingredients, avoid artificial addictions and too much sugar. If you plan to bring the juice home, choose the one which doesn’t have to be kept in the fridge before opening. Check the validity date to ensure the product will be still edible when back home.
Irish linen is worldwide famous for its quality. The items are produced the traditional way which ensures that the yarn finer and denser weave, softness and little slubs and corrections. You can buy high quality clothes and home accessories such as tablecloths, napkins, tea towels or bed linen. Sometimes you may find less conventional products such as this charming tote bag I found in the gift store in one of the castles. Since the few weavers in Ireland still produce the linen and the skills passed often from generation to generation between the family are becoming rare, the linen is quite pricey. Search in more specialized stores for high quality products and good selection.