To many, Ireland is a mystical place, full of history, and ancient traditions. Today, it has emerged into a thriving nation with a highly-educated workforce, and prosperity previously unknown to the country.
As a result, are Irish traditions still alive and well? I believe so, and I think one of the most important indicators is the Irish gifts industry. All indications indicate that manufacturers and retailers of Irish gifts continue to fare well. Google trends does show a small decline in the activity for the term Irish gifts, but there remains a very sizable portion of the population of many countries that can trace their heritage back to Ireland. In the US, for example, it is estimated that 12% of the US population can trace their routes to Ireland. That’s roughly 36 million Americans.
Consumption of Ireland’s most favorite export, Guinness is also suffering a decline. However, I firmly believe that has more to do with the massive amounts of marketing now being conducted within Ireland (and other nations) due to recent economic booms.
However, the population of Ireland, and the size of that group of people claiming Irish descent is only growing. Most Irish people that I know (in the US, and in Ireland) are keen to keep a connection with their Irish heritage, and it would be unusual to find their homes devoid of Irish décor items, Irish collectibles, etc. In fact, most Irish people I know take great pride in presenting an Irish gift to another person, be they Irish or not. The purpose of a gift, after all, is to show the other person that you care about them, and that you have put thought and personal commitment into their gift. I think Irish gifts do that very well!
Different Types of Irish Gifts
To be honest, that is a near impossible topic to cover. There are as many Irish gifts as there are Irish people. That said, the major Irish gifts that I see are Irish jewelry, Irish pub items, and Irish home décor items. Let’s take a quick look at what’s available in each group.
Perhaps the best known piece of Irish jewelry is the Claddagh ring. However, there are also items that are inspired by traditional Irish symbols, Celtic knots, and family crests (or coat-of-arms). Rings and pendants are probably the two most common pieces of Irish jewelry that feature either the Claddagh, Celtic knotwork, or a traditional Irish symbol, such as a Celtic cross. However, rings can be a less than ideal gift unless you know the person’s ring size. For that reason, I often consider the pendant as the best choice in Irish jewelry, unless you are really set on presenting a ring. Both definitely make excellent Irish gifts.
Irish Pub Items
The popularity of various Irish beers, and Guinness in particular, has made Irish gifts featuring their logos extremely popular. With Guinness, for example, there is almost an infinite supply of barware, rugby shirts, hats, and other clothing that features the Guinness logo. Irish pub signs are also very popular gifts, particularly those with an old time feel and look to them.
Irish Home Décor
Last, but certainly not least, is Irish home décor. In this group, Irish gifts can range from mugs, to teapots, and from manufacturers such as Belleek to Mullingar Pewter. The breadth of offerings from these Irish gift makers is enormous. Suffice to say, whatever accessory or décor item that you are looking for, you can probably find it.
Regardless of what type of Irish gift you decide to give, the important thing is the personal touch and thought that you put into selecting it. There is a myriad of choices, and whatever you decide, you will be able to present it with the very best of Irish pride!