Greetings to you all from Ireland,
This week I am so excited to continue our travels, especially as we are sailing into the gorgeous county of Galway in the heart of the west of Ireland. What makes it extra special for me is that Galway is home to many of our favorite pieces here at The Irish Store but more of that later. Let’s get started!
1.Galway- The City of Tribes
This harbor city nestles where the Atlantic meets the Corrib river and really has it all. Great food, friendly people, endless craic and in July, a world class international arts festival when the place really comes alive (not that it’s too sleepy at any other time!). The City of Tribes name comes from the 14 familes that ruled the city between the 13th and 16th centuries. There’s so much to see here, from Lynch’s Castle to the impressive Galway Cathedral and St. Nicholas church. Or just take a leisurely people-watching stroll from bustling Eyre Square down to Spanish Arch and find yourself at the water’s edge.
Taking it’s name from the Irish “an Cladach” meaning “the shore”, this area in Galway was once a thriving fishing village just outside the city walls dating back to the 5th century. For centuries, the locals of the area sold their catches at the market at Spanish Arch and up to the 1930s, they lived in thatched cottages, now long gone.
Of course it’s also the birthplace of the famous Claddagh Ring, a much loved favorite here at The Irish Store. According to Irish legend, Richard Joyce, a native of Galway, was captured and sold to slavery in Algiers where he was taught his craft by a Moorish goldsmith. When he was finally released after 14 years, he returned to his home place where his sweetheart awaited him. While in captivity, he had made a ring of commitment especially for her. The heart symbolized love, the hands friendship and the crown loyalty.
This is one of my favorites here at The Irish Store. The classic Claddagh design also features another of county Galway’s unique treasures. Connemara Marble, which brings me neatly to our next stop.
Magical, mystical, majestic. This stunning region perches on the edge of western Europe. Endless mountain vistas, lake-studded boglands and miles of golden beaches washed clean by the mighty Atlantic make this a truly special part of our beloved island. One of our gorgeous new sweater coats from the Summer Collection is named after this beautiful place. The perfect way to way to keep warm and stylish on a windswept beach!
This is also the home of Connemara Marble, Ireland’s 600 million year gemstone which can only be found in this ruggedly beautiful region. Mined from the region’s oldest quarry between the Twelve Bens Mountains and Roundstone Bog, it’s rich multi shades of green reflect the ever changing beauty of this unique landscape. As all you fans of The Irish Store know, it’s hugely popular in Celtic Jewelry design.
This is one of my particular favorites from our Connemara Collection.
4. Kylemore Abbey
We can’t leave Connemara without a visit to the stunning Kylemore Abbey. Built in 1867 as the private home of Mitchell Henry, it was sold to the Duke and Duchess of Manchester in 1909 before being bought by the Irish Benedictine Nuns after fleeing Belgium in World War 1. They ran a school there until 2010. A visit here is a real step back in time and the walled Victorian gardens are a sight to behold. It also shares it’s name with the Kylemore Collection at Belleek Pottery, another big favorite here at The Irish Store.
Before we hop over to Ireland’s trio of much loved islands, I have to give a mention to one of our most popular makers here at The Irish Store, the inimitable Galway Crystal. For over half a century they have been making the finest Irish crystal pieces, continuing a centuries old Irish craft tradition. Check out our best-selling glasses and decanter set below. Pure Irish elegance!
5. The Aran Islands
At Ireland’s most westerly point, just off the coast of Galway, stand the magnificent Aran Islands. Inishmore, the largest of the islands boasts over 50 ancient monuments of rich Celtic heritage. Inishmann, the least visited of the islands gives a true feeling of getting away from the modern world and was a favorite retreat of Irish writer J.M.Synge. Inisheer, the smallest of the islands, has an irresistible charm and offers astounding views of the Cliffs of Moher.
And let’s not forget that these stunning Islands are the home of one of Ireland’s most famous exports, the Aran sweater. Every stitch tells a story, rich in symbolism and island folklore. The classic Diamond stitch, one of the most popular stitches, wishes the wearer wealth and success, while the much-loved honeycomb stitch, is said to bring good fortune. Born out of necessity, they were the originally made for the island fishermen, giving much-needed protection from the unforgiving wild Atlantic ocean. Throughout the 1930s and 40s, they gained popularity around the world and when Grace Kelly appeared in an Aran jumper on the cover of vogue in the 1950s, this humble Irish sweater was catapulted to iconic status, cementing its reputation as an Irish classic.
Here’s one of my favorites from The Irish Store Collection.
Well that’s all from me for this week. I hope you enjoyed the trip as much as I did. See you next week for the top 5 picks from our summer collection, chosen by you, our extended family!
Until then, keep on shopping and use BLOG10 at the checkout to get a 10% discount!
Slán go fóill!
The Irish Store Founder