Ireland is a veritable treasure trove for shoppers. My dirty little secret is we had to buy an additional suitcase to get it all home! If you are looking for beautiful, handmade or locally made goods that will sing to you of Ireland, you have much to choose from.
I’m going to share with you where to shop in Ireland and what to buy in a series of posts. Today we start with Dublin. Dublin is a lovely city with shopping zones that are all walkable and close to each other. Let’s clear up some misconceptions first: Temple Bar is not for shopping. Yes, there are a bunch of t-shirt shops, but it’s not a zone for dedicated shoppers. Powerscourt Shopping Centre: Another one to skip. This is just chain shops – a dull mall. Cow’s Lane Designer Mart sounded amazing, but in reality it was a tiny store with nothing worth buying, but you might find something since it is all handmade. I skipped Grafton Street since there were no shops with locally made artisan goods there.
There are four places to spend your time in Dublin for excellent shopping. [Note: Some of my photos include items from other places and I’m not describing those finds today – if you’re intrigued, be sure to come back and read the posts that are coming up on where else I shopped in Ireland and I’ll tell you where those pieces came from!]
Avoca is known for their knits, primarily throws, but this three story shop was fascinating for many reasons. I spent a lot of time comparing mohair to cashmere to wool in the throws and then dithering over which pattern I wanted. I ended up with the softest of soft mohair blue plaids. My daughter went nuts in this store, saying it was like Urban Outfitters on steroids. She bought a pink throw. They sell made in Ireland soaps, lotions, candles, and cosmetics, socks, scarves and gloves housewares, jewelry, clothing, baked goods, bags, baskets and kitchenware. If that’s not enough, there is a full-service restaurant on the top floor and a bakery in the basement. You could spend a couple of hours here.
House of Ireland
By the time I exhausted my credit card in this shop on Nassau Street (just down the road from Trinity College), my teenage son could perfectly mimic the salespeople saying “Welcome to the House of Ireland” in a perfect accent (I told him his Irish genes had popped to the surface). This shop has three showrooms to explore. One is all knits and I bought the most amazing Aran knit throw here. Another room is all crystal and china. I snagged some Belleek and some fine Christmas tree ornaments here. You can also buy Waterford and other Irish crystal in this shop. The prices were comparable to other shops throughout the country.
My favorite part about this store has nothing to do with what I bought. The salesclerk took a liking to my husband and referred to him as Pat (NOT his name, it was a form of endearment) throughout our entire visit. “I’ll ring that up for you Pat.” “Now Pat, here’s how you get your tax refund.” It simply had us rolling with laughter and to this day I call him that occasionally. This same sales lady warned us to hold tight to our wallets out on the street since pickpockets are common, but felt a need to let us know “We’re not all of us thieves, you know.” She was adorable. Aside from the local color, this is a lovely shop with high quality finds.
The Kilkenny Shop is next door to the House of Ireland on Nassau Street. I considered skipping this since The Kilkenny Shop began in Kilkenny. It seemed to make sense to wait and shop where it began, but I’m glad I didn’t. The
Dublin branch is the largest and is truly a sight to see. This is the House of Ireland but all artisan-made. You can buy Waterford here, but the best shopping is elsewhere in the store. There is a huge selection of stunning Irish pottery, including Nicholas Mosse, Belleek, and Kiltrea. I brought home a beautiful pottery bowl that is very Celtic in design and some egg cups (to display Easter eggs in). There are knits (throws, blankets, scarves, and gloves), cosmetics (candles, lotions, soaps, lip balms). A small clothing section at the rear of the store goes mostly unnoticed. A nice selection of Irish linen is enticing – I bought a small embroidered doily. Jewelry, purses and other personal items are for sale. They have a beautiful collection of Jerpoint Glass, but I held off because I was planning to go to the Jerpoint Studio itself in Kilkenny (tune in to my upcoming post about Kilkenny!). I loved this shop as did my 21 year old daughter who bought copious amounts of beauty products and socks. I had one quibble with them. They had a beautiful display of china teacups in an
Irish rose pattern. I have a teacup collection and wanted one. They were only sold as a set of four, so I missed out on that.
Trinity College Gift Shop
The Library Shop at Trinity College is your reward after braving the crowds to gaze at the Book of Kells. This shop is tiny (and just as crowded as the Book of Kells viewing area), but it’s worth the struggle. They have an interesting collection of jewelry that I saw nowhere else. There is costume jewelry on racks and countertops and I bought a beautiful pottery Celtic necklace. Inside the cases are more expensive pieces and I bought a silver necklace with round pendant that has Celtic symbols on it. There are plenty of books if that suits your fancy. As for me, I was honed in on the bookmarks. There is a nice little collection of knits (socks, scarves and gloves) in the back of the shop and my daughter and I both helped ourselves to some of these. If you collect magnets, you can buy one here for the Trinity Library, but they unimaginative (just rectangular photo magnets). They sell family crest items in this shop if you’re in the market for that.
George’s Street Arcade
I said there are 4 places to shop and I’ll stick by that, but let me just add an aside about George’s Street Arcade. This is almost like a flea market with some hippies selling crazy art and a bunch of cheap junk made in Asia for sale in bins. There are two reasons to venture into this weird little alleyway. Lolly & Cooks sells amazing gluten-free cupcakes with tons of flavors. We bought an assortment and ate them ALL that night in our hotel. Delicious. Not to be missed if you are a gluten-free diner. The Gift of Warmth is another shop worth stopping into. They sell big fuzzy wool slippers. I bought a sheep for my collection here. There was nothing else in the arcade I would recommend at all, so go here only if you happen to be passing by.
Ireland is a veritable treasure trove for shoppers. My dirty little secret is we had to buy an additional suitcase to get it all home! If you are looking for beautiful, handmade or locally made goods that will sing to you of Ireland, you have much to choose from. I’m going to share with you … Read more