A treasure trove of artisanal finds, Ireland offers shopping for soul. Traditional craftsmanship, unique blends and distinctively authentic designs come as standard with these charming Irish products.
1. Aran sweaters
Whatever the changeable local climate throws as you, you will be ready in an authentic hand-knitted jumper. The hard-wearing Aran knitwear is traditionally made from the wool from native sheep; however, recent years have brought increasing popularity of the more esoteric fibres of llamas and alpacas. The characteristic patterns of the knit signify the life of the islanders, such as marine ropes, craggy cliffs and Irish moss, and remain in high demand today for their artistry and style. They are available from stockists such as Shamrock Gifts.
2. Irish whiskey
Irish whiskey is globally renowned for its smoothness. Known as uisce beatha in Gaelic, or water of life, Ireland boasts a number of varieties of whiskey including single malt, blends and triple-distilled spirits. Less peaty than their Scottish competitors, whiskeys produced in Ireland are more mellow with notes of heather and honey.
3. Claddagh ring
A symbol of love, loyalty and friendship, the Claddagh ring is often worn as an indicator of romantic availability. The heart, crown and clasped hands have symbolic meanings and the ring is worn to pledge vows of love. An icon of Irish heritage, the design and customs of the Claddagh ring originated in the fishing village of the same name in County Galway.
4. Donegal tweeds
Manufactured for centuries in County Donegal and originally a hand-woven, plain-weave cloth with small pieces of yarn in various colours to give a heathered effect, this famous tweed is still made in the homes of local artisans. Magee, Molloy and McNutt is one of the most famous manufacturers, producing this charming but sturdy material in the north of Ireland since 1866. This traditional fabric, made to withstand the rain and cold, is widely used to make coats.
5. Foxford blankets
Foxford Woollen Mill has been in production since 1892. It is now an internationally-renowned lifestyle brand specialising in sumptuous throws, both traditional and contemporary, heavyweight and luxurious.
6. Waterford crystal
Highly desirable since the 18th century, the fine flint glass is etched with skill and precision with the iconic deep-cut Waterford patterns. Passed down from generation to generation, this glassware takes pride of place on many a dinner table across Ireland.