Get to Know: Mucros Weavers

Spinning and weaving are iconic art forms, especially at Muckross House Gardens & Traditional Farms in Ireland’s Killarney National Park. Here, the skilled crafters at Mucros Weavers create hats, scarves, stoles, capes, and more—all from wool, mohair, and alpaca. Their work is carried out under the direction of master weaver John Cahill.

Muckross House is a destination that transcends time, and the onsite weavers are just one part of this experience. Guests who visit the home and grounds have the opportunity to tour the 19th-century Victorian mansion, which is furnished with period pieces as well as visit Muckross Pottery, where potter Margaret Phelan creates hand-thrown stoneware.

Additionally, there is an onsite bookbindery and paper conservation workshop. Aside from the experience at the destination, guests can also take in views of the mountains, woodlands, and famous Lakes of Killarney that surround the property.

If you can’t make it to Killarney to see the weavers in person, you can shop pieces from the collection through the Creative Irish Gifts site and through our catalog. Here are a few of our favorite pieces from the handcrafted collection.

Tweed Waistcoat

Equally warm and stylish, this five-button waistcoat features a classic pattern to complement any wardrobe.

“Fields of Ireland” Mohair Scarf

Wrap up in a scarf made with a blend of mohair and wool. Its vivid hues were inspired by the Irish countryside and the many fields of heather.

Kerry Multi Patch Cap

This style has been handed down from generation to generation and showcases the famed handiwork of the Emerald Isle. Individually crafted from patches of Irish tweed, each cap is truly unique. 100% wool.

Quick-and-Easy Gift Ideas

There are just 15 days left until Christmas, but no need to panic. You can wrap up your shopping with these six gifts that are sure to fit anyone (and everyone!) on your list.

Celtic Cross Ornament

Many people enjoy collecting treasured ornaments from year to year. The gift of a Celtic cross ornament will remind them of both you and Ireland for Christmases to come.

 

2018 Irish Calendar

Ready to look ahead? The recipient of this calendar will be set to plan for the coming year while enjoying beautiful scenes from the Emerald Isle.

Irish Afternoon Tea

Who wouldn’t love a moment of peace and quiet—especially following the busy holiday season? This gift reminds the recipient to pause and enjoy the small things in life—with a cup of tea in hand.

 

Shamrock Child’s Beanie

Perfect for your smallest Irish cutie, this beanie will keep them warm while proudly displaying a bit of their heritage.

 

A Gift Card

Always the right size. Always the right color. Gift cards never disappoint. Whether you’re shopping for someone you know well or hardly know, rest assured that everyone likes to have a few dollars to spend in a store they like.

3 Irish Christmas Traditions to Make Your Own

For many people, incorporating Irish heritage into the holidays is second nature. Oftentimes, families have their own special traditions that may have originated in Ireland or been inspired by Irish customs. However, if you’re looking to start an Irish Christmas tradition that can be celebrated and looked forward to each year, try one of these three suggestions.

  1. Place Glowing Candles in Your Windows

While Mary and Joseph were unable to find a room in Bethlehem, the candles that burn in the windows of the Irish signal that all are welcome—at any time. Whether you use real or battery-powered candles, this is a simple way to honor a long-established tradition that still has great meaning today.

  1. Add Plum Pudding to the Menu

Christmas Pudding, as this dish is often referred to, is so-called because it is primarily served just once a year. The rich dessert has been a century-long favorite. Perhaps so many have fond memories of this dessert because it is most often doused in alcohol—usually rum or brandy—and then set aflame for a brief moment before it is served.

  1. Celebrate Little Christmas

January 6 is known as “Little Christmas” in Ireland. The name comes from the Julian calendar, under which the birth of Jesus was celebrated in January. The Twelve Days of Christmas commence on Christmas Day in Ireland and end on January 5. Thus, the sixth is the day when the Irish remove their holiday décor and reset their home for the next year and season. It has been said that it is bad luck to take down the tree and stockings before this day.

In modern times, this day has gained popularity because in many regions of Ireland it is also referred to as Little Women’s Christmas. On this day, men take over the housework and women, who are happy to have a rest following the holiday season, go to parties or get-togethers with their friends.

 What are your favorite Irish holiday traditions? Share them with us in the comments section.

The Meaning Behind the Irish Flag

Since it was first widely adopted as the national flag following the 1916 Easter Rising (and later formally adopted), the flag of Ireland has presented a simple yet bold statement across the island and abroad. However, the tricolor—as it is sometimes referred to—has a deeper meaning than just harmoniously hued bars.

The Origin

In 1848, Thomas Meagher and a group known as the Young Irelanders were eager to see concordance and prosperity in Ireland. They believed that if the Catholics and Protestants worked together they could overthrow the British government in favor of local rule. This led to the Rebellion of 1848, a failed attempt at a revolution.

Numerous revolutions had been and were occurring around the Europe at this time. The group had been especially encouraged and inspired by the French Revolution and traveled to Paris to learn more. As the story goes, it was here where a group of women presented them with a small French silk in green, white, and orange. They adopted the hues of the silk as their flag immediately and upon returning home Meagher presented it to the Irish people. Decades later, the new flag would come to officially replace its predecessor, which featured a harp set on a green background.

The Hues

Specifically, the hues have a meaning a bit deeper than just a vibrant palette. The green, which is hung closest to the flagpole, represents the original republic of Ireland and its native people, most of whom were Roman Catholics. The orange on the far side of the flag symbolizes the Protestants. A number of Protestants in Ireland during that time were supporters of William of Orange, a Protestant prince who became King William III of Britain. Finally, the white in the center of the flag symbolizes the continued peace between the two groups and a hope and desire for inclusion of all peoples and backgrounds.

3 Irish-Inspired Side Dishes for Your American Thanksgiving

Don’t let your Irish heritage fall by the wayside this Thanksgiving season; bring it to the table. We’ve collected three recipes from the Emerald Isle that are sure to add a festive flavoring to your fare. Try these in your kitchen, and let us know your favorite.

Mashed Carrots & Parsnips

With a texture similar to mashed potatoes, this flavorful and filling side is a favorite for family members both young and old.

INGREDIENTS
1 lb carrots, chopped
1 ¼ lbs parsnips, peeled and cut in cubes
½ cup butter, cut into pats
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon heavy whipping cream or whole milk
salt and pepper to taste

PREPARATION
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Place the carrots and parsnips inside. Reduce heat and allow to simmer for 20 minutes or until tender. Drain and return to the pot. Use a potato masher or handheld blender to mash the carrots and parsnips. Add the butter, spices, salt, pepper, and cream or milk. Stir until soft and well blended. If the mixture is too thick, add more cream or milk.

Irish Boxty

An Irish classic, this simple recipe for potato cakes—which includes both mashed and raw, grated potatoes—is sure to become a household favorite.

INGREDIENTS
1 cup of mashed potatoes (leftovers make an easy option)
1 ½ cups raw potato, grated
1 cup onion, finely chopped
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 ½ – 2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole milk
olive oil
scallions, chopped (for garnish if desired)

PREPARATION
Combine the mashed potatoes, raw potato, and onion. Add the egg and mix thoroughly. Slowly alternate adding flour and milk being careful not to overmix. You may need more or less of these two ingredients to create the desired dough-like consistency. Create patties out of the mixture, place on a plate and set aside. Heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add a patty (or multiples, if your pan allows) and cook until golden brown on the bottom side. Flip the patty and repeat on the opposite side. Top with chopped scallions, if desired. Serve warm.

 Minty Fresh Peas

 

This dish is often served with fish or lamb, but also makes a tasty Irish-inspired addition alongside turkey and ham.

 INGREDIENTS
1 package frozen peas
1 tablespoon fresh mint, finely chopped
2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon butter

PREPARATION
Place the first three ingredients in a large saucepan, cover with water, and bring to a boil. Cook for 5-7 minutes, or until peas are tender. Drain and stir in butter. Serve warm.

Who Was St. Patrick?

The name St. Patrick is almost synonymous with Ireland. Thumb through the pages of any Irish history or culture book, and you’ll likely see a mention of him in numerous places. Who was this man? And why did he have such a lasting imprint on Irish culture?

He Started as a Slave
St. Patrick was born Maewyn Succat in the latter half of the 4th century, most likely in Scotland or Wales; there are conflicting reports. His parents were Romans living in British territory. During his teen years, he was captured, kidnapped, and taken to Ireland to become a slave. Ironically, it was during this period—in a heavily pagan place—that he began to open his eyes to and rely on the Christian religion that he had been introduced to by his family but had shown little interest in previously. He spent six years in captivity. During this time, he is thought to have tended sheep and spent a great deal of time in prayer. Following a dream he had, he escaped and was reunited with his family.

St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Ireland

He Became a Priest and Saint
After his escape, he continued his in faithfulness to Christianity. He eventually became a priest and later a bishop. Soon he had another vision. This time he felt he was being called back to Ireland to share the Christian faith. He followed the dream and spent four decades traveling the island and teaching the people about Jesus. He often used shamrocks, which are abundant in the Irish countryside, to explain the holy trinity, hence they are now forever connected with him. While the year of his death is debatable, it is known that he passed away on March 17. Thus, the day is now celebrated as St. Patrick’s Day, both in Ireland and around the world.

St. Patrick Statue

To honor the faith, contributions and history of St. Patrick, consider a beautiful token in his image. Placed in your garden, a sunny window, or a treasured spot in your home, any of them is sure to remind you of Ireland’s patron saint, and the message that he is best known for sharing with the Irish people.

Invite St. Patrick’s love and protection into your garden in this intricate statue with detailed knotwork. 7½” W x 26½” H x 5” D.

St. Patrick Figure

Made of stone and resin mix, this St. Patrick figure is 3″ L x 3½” W x 8¼” H.

 

St Patrick Glass Pane

Beautiful hanging glass featuring the visage of St. Patrick holding an open book with St. Patrick’s prayer. Trimmed in silver metal with a chain hanger. 8.27″L x 5.98″W.

St. Patrick Figurine

Here St. Patrick is depicted here as a bishop, wearing a miter and carrying his crosier. Resin/Stone. 5″ W x 14″ H x 4¼” D.

The 2017 Holiday Gift Guide

It’s time to make your list and check it twice. Don’t be stumped on what to give those you love most. Browse our gift guide to find the perfect present to put under the tree this year.

GIFTS FOR THE FAMILY & FIDO

Coat of Arms History
If you’re looking for a personalized present, we suggest the Coat of Arms History framed print. The piece will feature the family’s surname history along with a full-color rendition of the earliest coat of arms associated with the name.

Irish Pot of Gold Nutcracker
It’s hard not to crack a smile when you see this cheerful fellow. Surprise a beloved Irish family with this holiday reminder of their heritage.

Dog Coat
Your furry friends deserve something new for the season, too. Make your pooch feel special with a high-collared Aran knit dog sweater—a gift that’s both stylish and comfortable.

GIFTS FOR HER

Wise Irish Women Book
Know a woman who inspires you? Return the sentiment with a book dedicated to sharing 36 stories of Irish women who are making a difference.

Dublin Doors Silk Scarf
Colorful and classic, this 100% silk scarf pays homage to the architecture of Ireland, and is sure to be a gift that’s treasured for years to come.

GIFTS THAT SPARKLE

Swarovski® Shamrock Stud Earrings
A dazzling gift for any girl or woman, these shamrocks shimmer with genuine Swarovski® crystals.

Birthstone Claddagh Ring
The Claddagh ring holds special meaning for many who have Irish heritage. Make it even more personal with this version that features your loved one’s birthstone. Available for each of the twelve months and in a variety of sizes.

Swarovski® Heart Pendant
The one you love deserves something extra special during the Christmas season. Give her this sterling silver heart pendant that features rose gold Celtic knot work and genuine crystals.

GIFTS FOR HIM

“Patrick” Men’s Cologne
Featuring fresh green notes of fern and pine alongside oak moss, this cologne has a rich scent that was inspired by the Irish countryside.

Alpaca Scarf
Keep him warm with a scarf made from soft 100% alpaca wool. What’s more, this scarf was handcrafted at Mucros Weavers Studio in Killarney.

Ireland Celtic Knot Pen
This pewter, refillable pen is a gift that is sure to serve as a reminder of both the Emerald Isle and your thoughtfulness.

GIFTS FOR KIDS

Mittens and Hat Gift Set
Keep your favorite little ones cozy this season with this sweet knitted set.

Leprechaun Jelly Beans
Candy is always a good idea! A rainbow of jelly beans are this lucky leprechaun’s pot of gold.

Volkswagen Bus
There’s nothing cooler than cruising the coast in a VW van—especially when it’s decked out in Irish style. Let your kids imagine their own journey with this die-cast toy.

FOR STOCKINGS & HOSTESSES

Guinness Luxury Fudge
We think you’ll agree that this fudge is the perfect gift to give a sweet hostess or friends who drop by during the season.

Holiday Flutes
Toast your favorite host or hostess with this set of four champagne flutes from Ireland’s Galway Crystal.

Personalized Holiday Ornament
They’ll remember your kindness each year when they hang this festive personalized ornament on the tree.

Butler’s Chocolate Bar
Filled with Irish cream liqueur, the only down side of this stocking stuffer is that it won’t last long.

5 Irish Sights to See in the U.S.

Immerse yourself in Irish culture without stepping outside the borders of the United States. Whether you want to taste an authentic ale, take in community events with an Irish flair or pay tribute to Ireland’s past, these five ideas—all of which are located in the East—offer an eye into the Emerald Isle’s culture.  

 

Boston’s Irish Heritage Trail
Organized by the Boston Irish Tourism Association, this trail features not one but 20 unique sites, all of which have played a role in Irish history or pay homage to the culture. Set in a city that is known for its numerous Irish roots and connections, the trail is a simple way to soak up the sights, including the Irish Famine Memorial, Fenway Park, the Rose Kennedy Garden, and many others. Learn more at irishheritagetrail.com.

 

Chicago’s Gaelic Park
What was originally organized as a park for athletes who were looking for a playing field for Irish sport, is now a thriving community center for many things Irish. Whether you want to see or take part in native dancing and music, further your Irish education, or participate in sports, this is the place to be with fellow Irish men and women—whether you live in Chicago or are visiting the city. The Carraig Pub is also a popular onsite venue. Don’t miss their annual “Ireland on Parade” 10-day celebration of Irish culture in March. Learn more at chicagogaelicpark.org.

 

Savannah’s St. Patrick’s Day Celebration
Touted as the world’s third largest St. Patrick’s Day celebration (Dublin and NYC lead the way), residents of this charming Georgia city throw a supreme party and celebration of Irish heritage each March. The Fountain in Forsyth Park will run with green water throughout the month, while dancing, music and festivities can be found at numerous venues in the city, along with the much-anticipated parade and festival.

 

New York’s McSorley’s Old Ale House
Operating as NYC’s “oldest continuously operating saloon,” McSorley’s is an authentic Irish Tavern. Since 1854, the watering hole has served everyone from U.S. presidents to writers and, of course, lovers of Irish culture. The best way to take in the culture-rich atmosphere is to soak in the history-filled walls with a pint of McSorley’s Ale. If you visit, be sure to follow the pub’s golden rule: “Be Good or Be Gone.” Visit mcsorleysoldalehouse.nyc to learn more.

 

Isles of Shoals
While there are no concrete landmarks on this grouping of islands that lie just off the coast of New Hampshire and Maine, it is steeped in Irish history. When merchants from the Emerald Isle traded with the early settlers of the colonies in the 1600s, they created a settlement of their own on these islands. While the islands were abandoned during the American Revolution, a day trip still conjures up images of the way of life of these early settlers.

 What favorite Irish-influenced landmark or city do you enjoy visiting in America?

Celebrate Teatime!

It’s no secret the Irish love their tea. Per capita they are third in tea consumption in the world, according to WorldAtlas.com. With a stat like that, it is no surprise tea is as synonymous with Ireland as Guinness or the color green. Here are a few insights into how you can make Irish tea time a daily ritual in your own home.

When To Have Your Tea
While we like to think of certain designated times for tea, the reality is that any time is a good time for tea. Start your day with a breakfast tea, have mid-morning tea (also referred to as Elevenses) with a light snack and a visit from a friend, or take tea before you head to bed. Traditionally the hours of 3 – 5 p.m. are known as Afternoon Tea and often include a sweet snack to accompany the tea. Perhaps, most notably, High Tea is served at 6 p.m. This teatime includes a dinner meal.

What Kind of Tea to Drink
Black tea is the king of teas in Ireland. It is often preferred with milk to add a creamy taste. Irish breakfast tea is a blend of several different black teas—often Assam teas, which are from India. Numerous brands offer their own blends of breakfast or afternoon tea to enjoy.

How to Make Your Tea
The loose-leaf method is the preferred way to make Irish tea; however, bag tea and even Keurig versions are becoming more and more popular thanks to their convenience. For the traditional version, fill a kettle with water and warm on the stove. Add 1-1 ½ teaspoons of loose tea per cup to a strainer. Fill the cup with milk and sugar, place the strainer with the leaves on the cup, and pour the hot water over it. You may also add the loose leaves to an infuser for the teapot and allow them to steep for no more than five minutes.

What to Serve With Your Tea
Scones are, perhaps, one of the most popular choices for teatime treats. These are traditionally served with jam. Other selections include, Irish soda bread and buttered shortbread cookies. Additionally, Brambrack or Irish fruitcake and oatcakes are equally delightful options. Whatever you serve, make sure to extend it to your guests with hospitality—as it’s the Irish way.

Halloween’s Irish Roots

Halloween has more history than just bowls overflowing with candy and ghouls and goblins traipsing through the streets. In Ireland, which is thought to be the birthplace of this now widely celebrated kid-friendly holiday, a number of time-tested traditions still ring true today. Here’s a look at the day’s history and how it’s celebrated—Irish style.

All Hallow’s Eve History
Like much of Ireland’s history, the roots of modern-day Halloween celebrations are said to trace back to the Celts, who occupied what is now Ireland more than 2,000 years ago. In short, the Celtic people held a festival known as “Samhain” at the end of the harvest before the cold of winter. Celebrated on October 31, the lines between the living and the dead were blurred on this day; many thought the spirits of the dead returned to earth on this day. When Christianity reached the Celts, Samhain began to blend with the church’s celebration of All Saints’ Day on November 1, thus the evening before this day is known as All Hallow’s Eve or Halloween and has taken the forefront of the autumnal celebration.

Trick or Treating
While the treats may have changed from loaves of bread and apples to chocolate and candy, the idea behind trick or treating remains the same. Originally, costumed young men would visit homes and riddle the occupants with a rhyme that asked for food. They were then treated to the traditional Irish fare that was on the stove or given fruit and bread to take away. Today, this tradition continues with community gatherings—both in Ireland and abroad—where children receive bounty at the front doors of neighbors.

Feasting on Colcannon and Barmbrack Cake
Many households celebrate the occasion with a traditional Irish meal, which often includes the satisfying dish known as Colcannon (see our recipe here!).  In addition to the main meal, Barmbrack Cake—a sweet bread with fruit and baked-in objects that are said to reveal one’s fortune—is also served. The cakes typically include the following: a rag, which symbolizes an uncertain financial future; a coin, which equals a prosperous year; a ring, symbolizing budding romance or marriage; and a thimble or stick, meaning you’ll be unlucky in romance.

Gathering Around a Bonfire
In ancient times, the Celtic festival was celebrated with bonfires. Numerous sources attempt to explain these fires. All seem to concur that were lit to ward off spirits; however, accounts vary on the other meanings. Today, bonfires are still a part of fall and harvest celebrations in Ireland and around the world.

What other Irish Halloween traditions do you incorporate into your celebration?