A trip is not really a trip if you don’t bring something from it. Ireland has plenty of things that look and feel Irish at first sight and are a perfect souvenir to bring from a visit. From the expensive handcrafted artisanal souvenirs to the mass-produced kitsch ornaments, there is no way to leave Ireland without finding a memento that fits the budget and the experience.
A quick note before we begin: as a visitor, you might be eligible for a tax refund on the things you export from Ireland. Don’t forget to ask for a part of your money back if you’re entitled to it!
With that PSA behind us, let’s see some of the best souvenirs you can bring home from a trip to Ireland.
Irish Traditional Music
You cannot, should not, must not go to Ireland without witnessing a traditional music session. Of all the things that represent the charm and the playfulness of the Irish spirit, the music is probably the one that does it the most fatefully. There’s also sadness in there, too, as it went hand in hand with the playfulness throughout the history of the island.
The night you spend with the locals in a crowded bar listening to the fiddle, the accordion, the flute, and the hide drum — bodhran — will probably become one of the most striking memories of a visit to Ireland. That’s why bringing some Irish music home is such a great idea.
If you were listening to a traditional band and they sounded great, ask if they have released an album or something along those lines. It’s always nice to support local artists, and you will know what to expect on the album after listening to them live.
Ireland also has many music groups that play folk music. The Dubliners were among the most famous ones, and their CD can be a great music souvenir. The Chieftains are another band that plays traditional Irish music. And don’t be afraid to get some Irish rock and roll or punk, either, because you’ll find that it often uses traditional motifs, at least in certain songs.
Irish Traditional Music Instruments
People can find those trad music sessions really moving, so much so that they can start thinking it would be a good idea to learn to play some of those songs. But that’s often easier said than done because, well, the fiddle isn’t an easy instrument to learn to play. And neither are the pipes nor the harmonica.
The bodhran, however, is a completely different story. Playing the bodhran is something one can learn to do reasonably well in the privacy of an apartment, and to the annoyance of neighbors. And the tin whistles the Irish often use in their music are also among the easier instruments to learn.
But even if there isn’t a single musical bone in your body, Irish traditional music instruments can still be a great souvenir. The bodhran, the tin whistles, and even the accordions look incredibly charming and they can look nice on display. A violin or the pipes might be more expensive, so buying them just of their decorative value might not be a good idea.
Anything with the Guinness Logo on It
Some would argue that every souvenir a traveler buys as such is a cliché or a kitschy little item that serves no real purpose. And that’s a valid opinion, especially given that the souvenirs people love to buy are often unoriginal and uninspiring.
Guinness merchandise is a kind of a cliché, that’s true. But it’s still one of the best souvenirs you can bring from Ireland. And the fact that Guinness itself clearly states that it doesn’t make its own merchandise and that it licenses it doesn’t change a thing. Guinness merch is still a good souvenir to bring home.
One reason it’s so great is that almost anything you can imagine can come with a Guinness logo on it. Need a nice candle? It can come in a Guinness mini pint glass. Need a travel mug? They come with the logo, too. And if truffle chocolate sounds exotic and inviting, well, you’re in for a treat — there’s a Guinness-branded line of chocolate products, and even toffees.
Even if you are personally not a fan of Guinness, it’s very like that some of your friends, colleagues, or family members are. Guinness merch is a great souvenir because it can easily serve as a gift people will love. If nothing else, that makes it an awesome souvenir to bring from Ireland.
Bog Wood Objects
‘Bog wood’ is not a phrase that sounds too appealing. Wooden objects, on the other hands, are the usual stuff people buy as souvenirs — every country has its own objects, designs, and even special species of wood for creating those objects. So why would anyone in their right mind want something made from bog wood?
Well, bog wood is wood that’s been found in the Irish boglands. What makes this wood special is that some of it spent hundreds, even thousands, of years buried in the wetlands. Ireland used to be covered in forest thousands of years ago. And if you’re thinking about what happened to all those trees, the answer is obvious — it was cut, and some of it ended up in bogs.
Those trees, once they are salvaged, become the material in which Irish artists create incredible sculptures. It’s very unlikely that two identical bog wood sculptures exist, as it’s next to impossible to make two that look the same. It’s slightly more difficult than finding a cheap bog wood sculpture.
Bog wood sculptures might be the perfect high-end Irish souvenir. They are artistic and artisanal, they are sure to spark many conversations on your next party, and you can get them in any major city in Ireland.
Dublin is an incredible city everyone should visit at least once during their lifetime. Many people would say, however, that you can’t have a full experience of Ireland without also visiting the more rural parts of the country, that represent the traditional side of Ireland. And when asked what they propose you do about it, they’ll probably say to go to Connemara.
Connemara is a region in Galway, a county in the west of Ireland. It is known for several things. One is that up to three-quarters of its residents natively speak Irish. Another is that people who visit it can see more than fifty mountain peaks. Generally, it’s a traditionalist and incredibly beautiful part of Ireland where they extract a special kind of marble.
This kind of marble is called appropriately Connemara Marble, and it has a striking green color with shades of gray and brown. The marble is visible in various buildings around the world, including the Pennsylvanian State Capitol and the Westminster Cathedral. And they sell it in various forms in Ireland, making it a great souvenir to bring home.
Usually, people buy some Irish jewelry that’s made using the marble. However, you might also consider getting Connemara Marble whiskey stones. Sure, they might not be the most effective tool for keeping a drink cold, but they look very pretty, they come in a nice and handy pouch, and they are the perfect companion to a bottle of Irish whiskey.
In Ireland, you’re never too far away from some bad weather. It wouldn’t be fair to say that it’s all bad, though, because the weather in Ireland can be very nice. It’s just so unpredictable that it might drive visitors mad.
No one likes to think they’ll need a sweater on a nice, warm, summer day. But a sweater summer collection is a thing in Irish fashion, so it turns out that yes, a visitor should be prepared for just about anything when coming to Ireland.
When they accept the Irish weather for what it is, visitors can look around and notice the curious traditional-looking off-white sweaters people are wearing. The further they are from the Irish summer, the more likely it is they’ll notice the cable-patterned sweaters.
They call them Aran jumpers in Ireland. The ‘Aran’ in their name comes from the Aran Islands in west Ireland. The ‘jumper’ is a British English word for a sweater the Irish also use. They used to make the jumpers from unscoured wool back in the day, which made them water-resistant — perfect for the Irish weather.
Today, of course, people wear the jumpers to look good and stay warm. Their white color makes them a classy choice for a casual Irish look. And people might want to take that look home, which is why Aran jumpers are among the more popular Irish souvenirs.
A Taste of Ireland
Getting food and drinks into countries can, in some cases, get tricky. At the very least, travelers must think about the quantity of the things they’d like to bring in. In some cases, like with meat products, there’s no quantity too small — meat is usually banned.
But for people who live in the United States, for example, meat is only one of the few food items that are restricted. That means that, if you’re American, there’s plenty of Irish flavors to bring home as a souvenir. Better yet, it’s possible to get most of them at the duty-free shop at the airport.
What are some of the things that might help evoke the taste and smell of Ireland? Let’s start with the soda bread, a type of bread that’s popular in Ireland. As long as it’s packaged well, there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be let into the country.
If you have a more refined palate, maybe some Irish smoked salmon might serve as a better souvenir from the Emerald Isle. Wrights of Howth are especially handy because they have a store at the Dublin Airport, not to mention that they have incredible gift packages that come in alcoholic and non-alcoholic types, so choose the one that fits the destination’s customs laws the best.
As for the sip, Irish whiskey is the go-to souvenir. Ireland has a long tradition of Irish production, and once upon a time, it was for whiskey what Scotland is today. But even though the times have changed, Ireland is still home to many fine distilleries that produce great whiskeys.
Whiskey is too mainstream for your taste? How about some Irish mead? And if that’s not strong enough, there’s always Poitín, an Irish alcoholic beverage with very high alcohol content. It might not burn a hole through the airplane carrying it away from Ireland, but it will do a number on your liver if you’re not too careful.
There’s a reason why Irish chocolate stands separate from the other tastes of Ireland on this list. It’s usually countries like Belgium or France people think about when someone mentions luxury chocolate. Switzerland is usually in there, too, as is Italy. But Ireland doesn’t seem to get the recognition it deserves for its chocolate scene. And it’s a real shame.
Ireland is home to established chocolatiers that have been producing consistently good chocolate for decades. Probably the best known are is Butlers Chocolates, headquartered in Dublin. Butlers produces luxury chocolate, and it also runs a chain of chocolate cafes. Skelligs Chocolate is another Irish chocolatier worthy of notice.
It gets even better if you scratch under the surface and start looking for artisan chocolatiers. Lorge, Chez Emily, and Wilde Irish Chocolate are only some of the small chocolate businesses that offer handmade mouthfuls of pure bliss.
Which one you pick up might depend on the part of Ireland you visited, as well as personal preferences. Some artisanal chocolatiers only sell their products locally, and even though a chocolate tour of Ireland sounds great, it might not be the perfect holiday for some. On the other hand, big city centers will offer plenty of high-quality chocolate in any taste imaginable.
Anything from Avoca
Is there a better way to experience the tradition of a country than to shop at its longest running business? There might be, sure, but when speaking of Ireland, shopping at the oldest business around is the perfect opportunity to get some useful and pretty souvenirs.
The oldest business in Ireland is Avoca Handweavers or just Avoca for short. The mill that’s been in the center of the business was founded in 1723 — almost three centuries ago. Of course, the business changed over time and moved away from its origins as a co-op mill. By the early twentieth century, it was a handweaving business of international renown.
After decades of neglect, the mill and the business were reinvented in the early 1990s. Avoca started looking like it does today, a modern shop that offers throws, beauty products, and pottery. Plus, it has its own bakery which makes all kinds of delicious goods.
If you don’t have a lot of time to pick a souvenir, getting a throw from Avoca is always a good choice. There’s plenty of designs to pick from, and the price range is decent even though the throws do not come cheaply. Ceramics are a more affordable choice, although they will require more careful packing.
If the first thing that pops into the mind when hearing the word ‘silverware’ are forks, spoons, and table knives, you’re thinking too narrowly for Newbridge Silverware. Ireland’s premier silverware company makes the cutlery that will get you in trouble if you try to pack it in your carry-on. But it also does so much more.
Newbridge has a line of giftware products including cheese picks, musical boxes, and picture frames. Every product is tastefully designed and will serve as a great souvenir or a great gift from a trip to Ireland. Newbridge also designs jewelry, often with traditional motifs. A charm bracelet with Celtic symbols is a great item to remember a trip to Ireland by, as is a Celtic bangle.
And let’s not forget the line of Christmas decorations, or the line of earthenware products, or glassware products, or even homeware with the Guinness logo. There’s plenty of things to see in Newbridge, and a lot of it will look and feel Irish enough to be a good souvenir.
Right. So, there’s this thing you’re probably aware of, where people associate leprechaun imagery with Ireland to the point when you almost start believing that the Irish are, in fact, all leprechauns, or at least privy to their locations.
And it’s not just the stateside Irish who are particularly fond of the Irish folklore’s most recognizable being. Fact of the matter is that leprechauns are associated with Ireland just as Guinness and the shamrock are. And it’s not like the souvenir industry of Ireland hasn’t noticed it.
A leprechaun figurine, and if possible one that combines a couple of those stereotypically Irish images is a great souvenir from the Emerald Isle. There’s no room for snobbery when it comes to creating nice memories and picking out things that will bring them forth in your mind for years to come. If it works for you, it’s the perfect souvenir.
Statue of Molly Malone
Let’s stay in the cliché lane and acknowledge that a statue of Molly Malone is an awesome souvenir of Ireland. Well, not so much of Ireland as of Dublin, because it is one of those local things, but still — a replica of the famous statue can easily find its way into your bag if you visit Ireland’s capital.
Molly Malone, of course, is the name of a song that’s the closest thing Dublin has for an anthem. It’s not the only name the song has, as some people call it Cockles and Mussels, or In Dublin’s Fair City. And the song tells the story of said Molly who was a fishmonger and who died of a fever.
The statue of Molly was designed by Jeanne Rynhart, and it was placed in Dublin as a part of the celebration of Dublin’s one-thousandth birthday. The statue has changed place at least once in the past due to infrastructure works in the city. But it’s very unlikely that you’ll visit Dublin without finding Molly to say hello. So a replica is a very appropriate Dublin souvenir.
Sweny’s Lemon Soap
Ireland, and particularly Dublin, gets a lot of visits from people who admire James Joyce, as you might imagine. Rightfully so, because Joyce is one of the most important literary figures of the 20th century, and Dublin is a city that holds a prominent place in his life and work.
Arguably Joyce’s magnum opus, Ulysses, might not be the most approachable of his works, but it still has plenty of people who revere it. And that brings us to a former pharmacy shop in Dublin, called Sweny’s.
Sweny’s was a place where, as an admirer of Joyce’s work would know, the protagonist of Ulysses bought lemon-scented soap. Today, the pharmacy is a registered charity that supports itself through donations, sales of second-hand books, and — the famous lemon soap. It’s really a must for any lover of James Joyce.
Gaelic Games Equipment
Like most other European countries, and a huge chunk of the globe, the Irish love soccer. Ten people running after a ball and kicking it on a field of grass while trying to move it past the one person that guards the goal is a very popular spectator sport. But it’s not the biggest sport.
Ireland has its own Gaelic games, and they love to watch and play them. Gaelic football, hurling, camogie, and Gaelic handball are the four sports that fall under the Gaelic games, with football and hurling being the most popular ones.
For any sports lover, picking up a piece of Gaelic games gear is probably the best way to deal with that whole ordeal of picking a souvenir. A hurling ball? What a great souvenir. A sports jersey? Even better. See, you can pick a souvenir in a matter of minutes and go back to trying to figure out the rules of Gaelic football.
A Dublin Door
Every traveler knows that there’s sometimes no room in the travel budget for a souvenir. Ireland isn’t exactly an inexpensive country, and it shouldn’t surprise visitors to end up with little to no money to spend on anything that’s not essential. But they can still have a great souvenir thanks to the many beautiful doors in Dublin.
Don’t worry, you’re not going to dismantle someone’s front door and try to bring it back home. But you can take a photo. Everyone has a smartphone these days, and there are plenty of charming and beautiful doors, gates, and doorways to take a picture of.
For travelers who want a physical keepsake and are not traveling on a shoestring budget, using an instant camera to take photos of the doors is a great choice. It combines the charm of the doors with the charm of an instant photo. And instant photos can be great personalized gifts, too.
Sea Salt, the Irish Kind
Ireland is an island. It is surrounded by two seas, the Irish to the east and the Celtic to the south. To the west of Ireland is the Atlantic Ocean. With that many bodies of water surrounding it, Ireland can count on two things. There will be fish to catch, and there will salt to use when cooking the fish.
But sea salt isn’t exactly a novelty, and it’s hardly a good souvenir. Handcrafted variants from local producers can be a hip souvenir or a gift, but again, there’s nothing innately Irish in making salt by hand. If only there was a way to take sea salt and make it deliciously and unmistakably Irish…
And there is! It’s sea salt that’s been smoked over whiskey barrels, giving it a twist that’s both delicious and very much Irish. Remember to pick up a couple of packs, though, because this is a souvenir you will want to use.
An Irish Fairy Door
It’s not childish to believe that fairies exist, that they live in houses, and that their houses need doors. Okay, it might be. But still, it’s such a nice image that it makes perfect sense that kids love stories and toys about fairies. And some adults might like them, too.
Fairies are a part of the Irish folklore. Fairies are part of other folklores, too, as Slavic and Germanic people also had plenty of stories about the capricious little beings. So when you visit Germany, Scandinavia, Russia, or the Balkans, make sure to ask around about their fairies and what they like.
The Irish ones apparently like to have pretty doors on their houses. It’s your job to provide them, if you want to have fairies in your backyard. It’s a great souvenir for kids and the adults who still want a little magic in their daily lives. Or at least something cute to remind them of the magical times they had on their visit to Ireland.