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 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
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. We also adopted a sweet donkey named Ritchie who, much to my daughters’ sorrow, had to remain in Ireland.
- 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.
- 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.
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!)
- 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.
- Aran Sweater. This warm, water resistant sweater is perfect for men who spend a lot of time out doors.
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.
- 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?
© 2012, Jody Halsted. All rights reserved.