The crows and Irish music playing over a loudspeaker vied for aural space at Blarney.
There was an air of excitement as tourists made their way to the shop that is proud to say that it is the largest Irish shop in the world. By American standards the shop would not be large at all. I learned that from my Canadian relatives when they came to Ireland, and I thought that some shop or other that I wanted to impress upon them was huge, but learned very quickly that it was tiny in comparison to the shops in Canada. Irish people forget sometimes that they’re living on a tiny island. It was always known from our ancestors who went to America, that everything was bigger and better there. I’d already been in the shop, as you can see from my purchases at the table. I took the following photos and videos.
So come and explore the beautiful Irish goods that were on offer in this very inviting shop. If you like Irish homemade products – as I do – this is definitely the shop for you. Enjoy!
As soon as one hits the shop this is the sight that one feasts the eyes upon. I adore rustic type settings, and this one certainly fitted the bill. There was Irish linen and cotton items galore.
I was in the throes of purchasing this night-dress, but chose instead a Connemara necklace and bracelet in the jewellery section afterwards, as it had a history attached that resonated very powerfully with me, albeit not a good history, however, one that could be talked about in survivors of Goldenbridge circles or at this journal.
The Connemara Marble necklace was created by Walsh’s. It doubtless is the same factory from whence similar beads had derived at the Goldenbridge secret rosary bead factory. It hit me like a ton of bricks when I read the label, after admiring the way the Connemara beads were intricately shaped. It had indeed to be Walsh’s of Rathfarnam who created the beads. I was stunned to see that the firm was still in business. The first thing that came to my mind was that at least they were not in the business of making Irish horn rosary beads. Well, I should very much hope they’re not, anyway. I think it was despicable that Irish people in the past were subjected to not only praying on rosary beads that Irish cailini produced, but also that animals had to suffer for their horns to be swiped away.
The mining of Connemara Marble is one of Ireland’s oldest indigenous industries. The Joyce family opened the Streamstown marble quarry in Clifden in 1822. Marble from here adorns the Galway Cathedral floor and the walls of the Senate Chamber of the State Capital Building in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, U.S.A. The Connemara Marble Centre offers the visitor an opportunity to purchase Connemara jewellery, gift items and to view the skilled master craftsmen at work cutting and polishing marble. The shop provides Ireland’s largest display of Connemara Marble jewellery, fashioned in gold and silver, depicting the shamrock, harp, Celtic cross and the Claddagh ring. A large selection of marble gifts such as clocks, ashtrays, marble eggs, cheeseboards, paperweights and chess boards are also available.
|Connemara Marble is one of Ireland’s most original products. Geologists estimate this natural green rock, quarried at the Streamstown Marble Quarries two miles north west of Clifden, is about 500 million years old. Unique to the region, the marble shows twisted and interlocking bands of serpentine, in various shades of light green and dark green.|
|It has been used over the centuries as a means of exchange, for features in stately buildings and is recognised for its beautiful colour and resilience, with no two pieces being similar. A broad range of souvenirs and ornamental products are produced from the stone.
My uncle gave me a pair of Connemara Marble rosary beads. The marble is synonymous with Ireland.
The Irish linen section was really airy and bright and with such a countried ambience. Oops… just spotted my Roxy rucksack plonked in the middle of the aisle.
Going back to the linen section, so many visitors who came into the shop were in awe of the layout. It was bright, airy and snow-white and spotlessly pure. Dare I say feminine and virginal. I really liked this one as well, as the yellow roses matched those that were blooming in the garden just outside the window.
Isn’t this bed just snug looking. I also liked the old-fashioned red tiling. I don’t like wall to wall carpets at all, excepting real wool Irish, Axminster, or Turkish rugs to don the tiles.
This Wedgewood pink chrysanthemum collection cup is also very pretty. It was frightfully expensive, I thought, at E26. I’m a cuiteog, or rather, predominantly left-handed and automatically placed cup handle to the left for this snap.
I really liked the table here set out with Belleek China delph.
This Persian Parian Belleek China tailless cat took my fancy. It was the nearest thing to the Persian blue cat my mother had when she lived in Birmingham and of which was brought all the way to Virginia, Co Cavan when she retired from her job at the assay office in Birmingham.
The infamous Belleek brought back memories of when I purchased a lot of same from a shop that was closing down in Ballyjamessduff, Co Cavan. It was old-style Belleek before it changed hands in the mid-eighties. Unfortunately with so much moving on my part it disappeared a long the way.
Established in 1857, Belleek Pottery holds a very special place in the cultural and commercial heritage of Co Fermanagh. Situated in the picturesque village of Belleek on the banks of the Lough Erne, this imposing building is home to the world famous Belleek Fine Parian China and Belleek Visitor Centre. Visitors can partake in guided tours, take a walk around the on-site museum, visit the audio visual theatre and showroom and enjoy refreshments in the restaurant. There is also a gift shop where visitors can purchase authentic Belleek products.
For more information on Belleek Pottery including opening times please visit www.belleek.ie
2009 was a landmark year for Belleek Pottery’s Visitor Centre, during which we welcomed our 2.5millionth visitor and celebrated the Centre’s 20th anniversary. Over our two decades we have become one of Ireland’s most popular tourist attractions, and we look forward to another year at the top of Irish tourism in 2010.
Images: Courtesy of the Belleek Pottery Visitor Centre.
Nothing tastes as good as a Beleek China cupan tee. I found it hard to drag myself away from the linen section. It was so bright and airy and fresh.
This is also delightful lace-work napkins from Co. Down.
This is a Waterford crystal clock. I remember visiting a survivor of Goldenbridge and her house was swamped out Waterford crystal items. A relative had worked at the old Waterford crystal factory and was therefore able to buy it at very reduced rates. I have smaller versions of Cavan, Tipperary and Galway crystal clocks that I would have purchased in charity shops. I buy stuff in the latter, as a way of funding charitable organisations. Besides, there is a form of reciprocation which also makes the giving more appealing.
Here is another floral pattern raincoat from Avoca Weavers. I adore the earthiness.
This is a winter woollen Avoca weavers collection.
Some matching Avoca accessories. The vibrancy of colours is so warm and inviting.
The hand-made woollen bags would also be my style too. I think the flooring looks like imitation flagged-floors that was commonplace in old Irish homesteads.
Here are caps to match for the lads and some lassies.
Whenever my belated deceased uncle Willie came home to Ireland (from Japan) on holidays, he would always buy a stack of Irish Donegal tweed caps. He told me that his Japanese friends loved to wear them when they were out golfing. He was partial to wearing them himself, as I saw a photo of him with my Knock cousins when they went out to Japan to visit him and were at Mount Fuji. I had wanted to go to Japan, but he never invited me. I fell out with him big time over that scenario. I abhor it when those whom I care about feel ashamed to be in my company. It’s unfair and very painful to deal with, as it triggers so many memories of rejection of the past. It can cause deep rifts.
The gents department – which lay at the heart of the shop – was also full of sporty tweed jackets, scarves and Aran jumpers.
The layout of the gents section was as pleasing on the eye as the ladies section. However, there are plenty of sporty type women who would find this very appealing. I read what feminists have to say about labelling men and women. Women also ride bicycles and horses and wear wax jackets. I thought to point this out, as I’m learning media studies and must be open to diverse ways of thinking about advertising, etc.
I feasted my eyes on Aran modern ponchos, jumpers and latest style long cardigans as well as classical ones.
As one can see the Woollen Mills is a terrific place to visit, if you like all things Irish. I was lucky to get these photos before the shop got busy with tourists. They came in their droves soon after these snaps were taken. I was surprised that there was no objection whatsoever to my taking them. I guess they thought I was an American tourist. The staff were very obliging and not in your face.