Planning Your Irish Vacation
As you cross Ireland, you'll see craft shops, souvenir shops and all manner of small stands- each with the intention of selling you at trinket to take home. While the urge to buy things is great, what you really want to do is buy your Ireland souvenirs with purpose. Or, a better way to think about it, what won't be ignored and forgotten when we return home?
Though I've got quite a bit of Ireland travel in my passport, I still find myself drawn to bring home something to remember each trip by, and I've found a few can't fail souvenirs to remember your fun family vacation in Ireland.
Best Ireland Souvenirs for Kids
While most kids souvenirs will be cast aside more quickly than the exchange rate can change, I usually let my girls make their own choices (with my input and strong direction). I find it is best to give each child a set amount of money for the trip – and once it's gone, it's gone.
Stuffed animals. I try to avoid bringing home any “stuffies” from vacations as we already have so many. But who can resist a small stuffed sheep- you are in Ireland, after all– or a bear emblazoned with “Cliffs of Moher”? On our last trip, we returned with stuffed donkeys from The Donkey Sanctuary, as each adorable donkey's purchase helps raise funds.
Or Real Ones (kind of) We also adopted a sweet donkey named Ritchie who, much to my daughters' sorrow, had to remain in Ireland. Another amazing place to adopt an animal is the Fota Wildlife Park in Cork. Adoption certificates and updates about your animal are wonderful memorabilia.
Bodhrán. This traditional Irish drum, made of a wood frame and goat skin head, is a terrific souvenir for kids. Often decorated with Irish symbols,your kids will enjoy this for years. Tip: make the rule of no playing in enclosed spaces like cars or airplanes before you purchase!
Wacky Woolies. You'll find these colorful sheep decorating everything imaginable across Ireland. For kids, consider hairbrushes, notebooks, pens, cups, coin purses or wallets, bags, or an umbrella.
Pet rock. If you venture to the Connemara region, a pet rock of Connemara marble, with wide smile and googlie eyes, is a fun trinket. Ours is named Mara.
Shells. It won't cost you anything but time to explore an Irish beach searching for shells and sea glass.
Irish coins. A continuing favorite in our home are our sióg pingin or “faerie coins“. 1¢ and 2¢ Irish euros make terrific souvenirs. Ours are in small trinket boxes with faeries on top.
Best Ireland Souvenirs for Women
Shops around Ireland are quite tempting, offing all manner of fabulous trinkets for ladies.
Jewelry. Always a favorite, you will remember your trip every time you don a beautiful shamrock pendant or Claddagh ring. If you are in Dublin be sure to stop at R&C McCormack on Grafton Street. Beautiful Celtic jewelry, much of it hand crafted and not sold anywhere else. (My husband purchased my second wedding band here after my first was lost.)
Connemara Marble coasters. Gorgeous, everlasting, and handy, these coasters will have you reliving your trip to Ireland every time you have guests.
Kerry Glass. Handblown glass from County Kerry is swirled through with beautiful greens and blues.
Woolens. Sweaters, hats, bags, and blankets… You'll find woolen mill shops across Ireland, tempting you with their creations.
Perfumes, Soaps, and other things that smell good. You'll find handcrafted soaps across Ireland, but if you find yourself in the Burren be sure to do your shopping at the Burren Perfumery.
Pottery and Crystal. Belleek, Waterford, and Nicholas Mosse are just a few well-known names that make incredible gifts and souvenirs.
Best Ireland Souvenirs for Men
Even men who don't enjoy trinkets will find plenty to remember a trip to Ireland by.
Whiskey. You can certainly buy this at any distilleries- or wait and get it at Duty Free before your flight. (Don't forget your Vinnibag to bring bottles home safely!)
Whiskey Buying Tip: Believe it or not you will find the best prices on Irish whiskey, as well as special blends, at the airports! So unless the bottle you want can only be purchased at the distillery (personalized label, self-fill numbered bottle) wait until you are at the airport to make your purchase!
Potcheen. Irish moonshine. Poítín means “little pot”, in reference to the very small pot stills in which it was brewed in remote parts of Ireland. Named illegal in 1661, a few distilleries now produce it legally. Tip: 40%-45% alcohol by volume.
Mead. A sweet honey wine with powers of virility and fertility. Traditionally served at Irish weddings, the bride and groom were given enough mead to last a month, or a cycle of the moon, hence the term honeymoon.
Cologne. Much like above with perfumes, you'll find manly scents as well. Man of Aran by the Burren Perfumery can be found across Ireland – but to get the bodywash and other scents you'll have to visit the shop itself.
Aran Sweater. This warm, water resistant sweater is perfect for men who spend a lot of time out doors. (or just want to look like they do).
T-shirts. This is my husband's go-to souvenir.
Ireland Souvenirs for Everyone
Whether you need to bring home “a little something” or you want just a bit more for yourself, these items pack easily and are great gifts!
Chocolates. Whether you opt for plain chocolates, or liquor filled, these treats will be enjoyed by everyone who tastes them. Look for small, local chocolatiers like The Chocolate Garden in Wicklow and Skelligs Chocolate Factory (mentioned in this trip report) on the Ring of Kerry.
Books. Every attraction you visit will offer books. Indulge your inner historian and buy a few.
CDs. Support the live bands you see and purchase a CD of two from them.
Lots of great photos. Invest in a good digital camera and take hundreds of pictures. When you come home create photo books, post cards, calendars… And relive your Ireland vacation again and again.
What are your favorite travel souvenirs?