Unfortunately, you'll find no shortage of cuddly Irish leprechaun teddies with 'Made in China' stickers on the back.
Finding real Irish crafts can often be harder than you may realise. Iconic brands may not be made in Ireland. They may sound Irish, look Irish and be heavily promoted as Irish; but are they actually made in Ireland?
Thankfully, we're strongly committed to promoting genuine Irish crafts at Vagabond and Driftwood Tours. It's all part of our responsible tourism mission to bring long-term benefit to the communities we visit.
There is something really special about meeting the people who create amazing Irish crafts every day. Step into their studio. Shake the same hands that made your souvenir!
Read on to meet Ireland's incredible craftsmen and women...
💎 Dingle Crystal with Sean Daly
Dingle Crystal is quite simply the finest crystal in Ireland. No other work comes close to the depth, clarity and sharpness of Dingle Crystal.
Each piece of Dingle Crystal is mouth-blown by Sean and hand-cut by one of his sons, Steven or Adam.
🧶 Eddie Doherty's Handweaving
"When I first started weaving here in Ardara in County Donegal in 1956, there were over 200 weavers here in town. Today there are only about 4".
That's the sad but endearing story of Irish handweaving. Thankfully, Eddie Doherty is preserving this craft in Donegal.
When you step into Eddie's shop in Ardara, you do more than step into a shop. You step back in time.
Eddie Doherty's beautiful hand-loomed tweed takes its inspiration from the surrounding hills of his native Donegal.
His stunning work has dots of yellow, purple and red in the same way that the hills of Donegal are dotted with the colourful plants of gorse, heather and fuchsia.
Eddie's unique yet traditional work has attracted such fashion icons as Demi Moore and Sarah Jessica Parker. With almost 60 years of working experience on the loom, Eddie truly is one-of-a-kind.
💚 Connemara Marble from Galway
"Not only is Connemara Marble made in Ireland, it takes 600 million years to make it in Ireland."
Ambrose Joyce is the 6th generation of this family-run business located in Connemara, Galway.
The Joyce family opened their Connemara marble quarry in 1822 and their shop provides the largest display of Connemara Marble jewellery in Ireland.
Here you can see highly-skilled master craftsmen at work, cutting and polishing this beautiful local marble. reflecting Ireland's forty shades of green.
🌾 Traditional Roof Thatching
Thatching is an ancient method of roofing.
Thatchers use reeds, straw or grass to weatherproof houses.
The traditional art of thatching is dying out in Ireland, but can still be seen in certain places.
The best places to see thatched cottages in Ireland include Adare, in county Limerick, and Ardara, in Donegal.
You can even have a pint of Guinness under thatch! Kinvara, in Galway, features Ireland's largest thatched building; the Merriman Inn, which is a pub and hotel.
Other Irish Crafts
You'll have an abundance of other chances for retail therapy on your Vagabond or Driftwood Tour.
Fun and crafty stops may also include:
- Avoca Woolen Mills
- Kylemore Abbey in Connemara
- Foxford Woollen Mills in Mayo,
- Molly Gallivan's on the Beara Peninsula
- Blarney Woolen Mills in Cork.
Last but not least, there is an abundance of crafts and other stores that you can visit during your free time.
Irish places like Galway, Dingle, Clifden, Westport and Kenmare all boast rich and diverse craft scenes.