A YEAR FOR BUYING IRISH

 

CHRISTMAS GIFTS:The focus of our gift guide for Christmas 2008? Déanta in Éireann. The G for Guaranteed Irish is back in vogue; looks like we'll be giving G for Globalisation a break for the foreseeable future. Katy Harringtontracks down scores of present ideas, from books to bags, fashion to food, hampers to handmade jewellery and pottery to pet accessories. The best hunting ground this year? School fairs, craft fairs, charity shops, local shops and galleries - and don't forget the calm that comes with online purchasing

Accessories

We love Hairy Baby's clever range of T-shirts all year round, but this Christmas, how about the one that reads: "Jesus Mary and Joseph"? There are many others, for hairy babies of all ages, from €12 upwards. www.hairybaby.com is based in Kinsale. Last orders 12th and 17th (express post).

Equally, An Spailpín Fánachproduces some of the most unique Irish-language hoodies in, em, the world (€39). Based in An Spidéal, Co Galway, they have handprinted tops for men, women and children. Grá mo chroí. www.spailpin.com.

When GAA fanatic Mairead OSullivan gave birth to her first son Cillian, she wanted to dress him in his county coloursso she created Gaga Baby. She now makes babygros and hats in every county colour as well as personalised solid ash hurls for kids. Prices from €12.99, order online from www.gagababy.ie

Apricot baby bootiesby Dublin-based textile artist Gina Faustino are made from 100 per cent merino wool, €42 from ginafaustino@gmail.com.

Róisín Gartlandworks magic with leather; her coats were recently featured in this magazine. We like this Leather Envelope bag, €395 from Róisín Gartland Studio, The Tower, Trinity Enterprise Centre, Pearse Street, Dublin 2. www.roisingartland.com

We also love Conor Holden's handsome travel bags, made just outside Dingle. He makes very smart briefcases and handbags, too. Pen cases start at €26; the Cahal travel case is €660 but you'd have it for life. From Holden Leatherworks in Dingle or nationwide outlets, www.holdenleathergoods.com.

The designer Joanne Hynesjust keeps getting better. A gift of an electric blue Italian silk brocade bell-sleeved jacket, perhaps? (€395) See www.joannehynes.co.uk

Spoiled, conformist teenagers need to give you a break and Farrell & Browna look-in. It's the Irish answer to Abercrombie Fitch, with sweaters and tweeds made in Cork and Donegal and branded with an Irish Wolfhound logo. A cableknit scarf will set you back €23. From 1 Dawson Street, Dublin; Bunratty Village Mills, Co Clare; Blarney Woollen Mills, Co Cork and Dove Hill Design Centre, Co Tipperary. See www.farrellandbrown.com

Silk velvet scarves and wraps and pillows and throws for the bed. Celtic luxury from Ciarán Sweeney, starting at €60. See www.ciaransweeeny.com

Padraig Harrington unashamedly promotes the Kartel menswearbrand. Maybe the utility jacket (€125) will help improve your favourite golfer's swing. www.kartel.ie for local stockists.

Lisa O'Riordain's funky Live by Lovelingerie is one of our favourite Irish brands and she is a hoot and deserves to succeed. Bras €40, briefs €20. Available from Arnotts and selected Fran Jane stores, or at www.livebylove.com.

Cashmere? Yes, please. Lil Cosey Roseyscarves from sphere one by Lucy Downes are available in 18 rainbow colours, €98. Stockists are listed on www.sphereone.biz.

Designed and made on the Aran Islands in the softest baby alpaca yarn, Inis Meáin shawlsare great for keeping warm this winter: €165 from the Inis Meáin Store, Aran Islands; Granny's Bottom Drawer, Kinsale, Co Cork; Ballymaloe Store, Shanagarry, Co Cork; Millars, Clifden, Co Galway and Havana, Donnybrook, Dublin 4.

Homewares

Soy-based Oberg and Max Benjamincandles are made in Wicklow, burn for 40 hours and are scented with natural oils. Lemongrass ginger and Fig leaves cedar are favourites: €18 from Brown Thomas and many chemists, spas and shops nationwide. See www.maxbenjamin.ie.

Bog Standardalso has a good range of Irish-made candles with festive scents infused with cinnamon and cloves: €14.95 from www.bogstandard.ie.

Snowflake dish €5 from Mea dows & Byrne. Not exactly Déanta in Eíreann, but from an Irish-owned shop full of Christmas homewares. Along with Blarney Woollen Mills, 50 per cent reductions this weekend.

Rachel Allen has created a range of kitchen products including a Fast Bake Breadmaker, complete with recipes and 11 programmes. €104.99 from Argos stores or order online at www.argos.ie

Ecó Creationshand-painted cotton cushions (€30) and tablecloths with eight napkins (€129) are machine washable, from www.ecocreations.ie

Beauty

A gorgeous organic Pamper Bath Box from Nádúr Organicswith bath sachets, bath oil and 20-hour-candle. €29.99. See www.nadurorganics.ie to order online or find local stockists.

Seaweed and essential oil-based beauty products from Green Angel, sourced and handmade in Ireland. Recommended: Seaweed Collagen Face Cream for €28. And we like the massage oil with neroli geranium and seaweed at €32. www.greenangel.com

The Rose Absolute and Chamomile Face Cream from the Burren Perfumeryis a delicate day cream for sensitive and mature skin. Great value at €25 for a 60ml jar. They've got handsomely packaged soap sets (€25) or men's Man of Aran gift sets (€45). Order from www.burrenperfumery.com

Jewellery

From Kenmare, we would like the pearl arc earrings by one of the finest jewellery designers in the country, Paul Kelly. And we'd like to take up residence in Kenmare, too, Santa, thanks. see www.pfk.ie

We'll have some gold and silver stacking rings designed by Yvonne Ryan, of Eve-Ella jewellery. Maybe one a year, at €350 each. From the Loft Market, Powerscourt Townhouse Centre, Dublin 2. www.eveella.com

Vintage pearl and satin necklace (€150), by Margaret ORourkeof MoMuse jeweller, maker of fab bangles and other gems. Available at The Loft Market, Powerscourt Townhouse Centre, Dublin 2. Visit www.momuse.ie for stockists around the country.

Connemara marble earrings with 18ct gold, €21 from Galway Gemstones. www.galwaygemstones.com

Theatrical gold-plated leaf bracelet (€650) by goldsmith and designer Tuula Harrington, from The Designworks studio, Winthrop Arcade, Cork or online at www.tuulaharrington.com

Award winning silversmith Séamus Gill's work is always worth exploring in The Tower in Pearse Street or on www.seamusgill.com

For all-out party sparkle, some colourful costume cocktail rings, €29 each, from Fran & Jane, Westbury Mall, Clarendon Street, Dublin 1, Main Street, Blackrock, Co. Dublin. www.regine.ie

Alan Ardiff lets his jewellery do the talking . . . thus his ever-popular "Heart of Gold" pendants, etc. The wall-mounted bird pendant shown here in silver and gold is part of his new collection. www.alanardiff.com

Crafts and pottery

Learn to make your own unique gifts at a craft workshop in Mayo. Derryaun Craftsoffers innovative courses covering a wide range of crafts, including felt-making, basket-weaving, batik, wire work and jewellery making. Prices start at €65 a day, www.derryauncrafts.com

At Ardmore Pottery and Craft Shop, Co Waterford, you'll find the best stuff being made in Ireland, including Mary Lincoln's fine pottery.

Andrew Ludickhand-builds unique ceramic pieces using white earthenware clay. From €30. Available from Rosemarie Durr Pottery, Castlecomer Estate Yard, Castlecomer, Co Kilkenny, and selected galleries nationwide. www.rosedurr.com

Rosemarie Durrshand thrown pieces are like porcelain but still strong enough to endure the dishwasher, oven and microwave. Cup and saucer set, €24; set of three powder blue bowls, €120. Available from Castlecomer Estate Yard, Castlecomer, Co.Kilkenny, and selected craft shops nationwide.www.rosedurr.com

The latest collection of ceramic Beasts from Grainne Wattsmake for a whimsical menagerie. Available from the Bridge Gallery, Ormond Quay, Dublin 1; Ardmore Crafts Gallery, Ardmore, Co Waterford and Black Abbey Crafts, Kenmare, Co Kerry.

Jerpoint Glass Studios in Stoneyford, Co Kilkenny, is always worth a stop if you're passing. The shop is packed with unusual gifts as well as Jerpoint glassware. Always check out the seconds basket. www.jerpointglass.com

There is no mistaking Louis Mulcahysdistinctive pottery or the pleasure of visiting his shops in Dingle, Dublin and Ballyferriter. Start with gift of Mulcahy nightlights to create ambience and romance at Christmastime: €14.60. www.louismulcahy.com for stockists or online orders.

For your fine feathered friends, a handmade ceramic birdhouse, €90 from Earthworks Ceramics, Co Kilkenny.

Tyrone potter Stephen Farnan's unusual cups would make a great gift for coffee drinkers. Baby Espresso Cups in Sleeper Blue, €14 each, from Mise Gallery, Barna, Co Galway; OReilly Turpin, Westport, Co Mayo, and from www.artsandcraftsofireland.com.

Collectors of Nicholas Mossepottery have a new pattern to snap up for Christmas called "Cherry". Perfect for this time of year. The pottery in Bennettsbridge, Co Kilkenny, is a great place to eat as well as shop. Large bowls are €68. For stockists see www.nicholasmosse.com.

For artists and writers among your aquaintances, a large stationery box (€45) from Daintree handmade papercompany at 61 Camden Street, Dublin 2 or www.daintree.ie.

Handmade fused glass heartsfrom Irish glassmaker Eva Kelly. Fragile tokens to post to friends far from home. From €25, www.evakellyglass.com

Cranmor's Hilary Jenkinsonis another potter we're potty about. Carafe €45, Goblets €18 each. From Crannmor Pottery, Castlecomer Estate Yard, Co Kilkenny. www.crannmorpottery.com

Crystal

We like Dingle Crystal. A lot. With harps and Celtic designs. See dinglecrystal.com

We don't recommend you have a martini on Christmas Day - Lord knows the day is challenging enough - but you might make a present of one or two of Louise Kennedy's Aurora martini glasses (€45 each) or serve shrimp cocktail in them. Available from Louise Kennedy, 56 Merrion Square and the new boutique at the Ritz Carlton, Powerscourt and from selected retailers nationwide.

We like this Waterford Crystal Clarion Decanterwith tumblers (€160 - see previous page), and lament the possible passing of this great Irish brand. Collect some while you can. See www.waterford.ie

Food and drink

The Sculleryis an award-winning business based in Nenagh and its Christmas puddings and brandy butter are really delicious. Four individual puddings and brandy butter from €18 from Supervalu, Centra and Spar stores nationwide. Or of course you could buy Peter Ward's famous puddings from Country Choice, also in Nenagh. www.countrychoice.ie.

A good gift for a whiskey connoisseur is Mitchell Sons own-label Green Spot whiskey(€45). A 10-year-old bottle is available for €250, or splash out on the limited edition 12-year-old cask-strength whiskey (€850). From the great new shop in CHQ Building Docklands, Dublin 1; 54 Glasthule Road, Sandycove, Co Dublin and Marlay Park Retail Centre, Grange Road, Rathfarnham, Dublin 16.

Foodies will love Nash 19's range of traditional Christmas hampers. Choose from the "Sugar and Spice and All Things Nice" or the "Hostess with Mostess" hamper which includes spiced apricots, cranberry relish, handmade chocolates and Green Saffron's Mulled Wine Spice Blend. Hampers from €75, available directly from Brown Thomas Cork or for national delivery order online at www.nash19.com

Eight Butlers Christmas Crackerswith truffles, a joke, a hat, a fact and word search: €27 from Butlers Chocolate Cafés nationwide.

The Irish Farmhouse Cheese Hamper is a mouth-watering selection of the best of the Irish including Cashel Blue, Durrus, Cooleeney, and Knockanore cheeses: €37 from Sheridans Cheesemongers, 11 South Anne Street Dublin 2, 14-16 Churchyard Street Galway and Ardkeen Quality Food Store, Dunmore Road Waterford or online, www.sheridanscheesemongers.com

Tea-time! Two iconic Irish brands have come together to create the cute Bewley's limited edition Tea Caddy by Orla Kiely(€6.99). From supermarkets nationwide.

Bunratty Fine Foodsin Co Limerick has a great online hamper store and makes gorgeous homemade jams, wholegrain mustards, gourmet biscuits and traditional sweets. A box of assorted wholegrain mustards is €15. See www.bunrattyfinefoods.com for details.

Allsorts

Moviestar.ie has the largest selection of DVDs in Ireland. They have three subscription packages for unlimited movie rentalsstarting from just €12.99 per month. With over 25,000 movies to choose from, film buffs will love this and there are no late fees. See www.moviestar.ie

If there is a budding actor in your life looking for their big break, why not treat them to a year's subscription to MovieExtras.ie? The subscription includes a year's membership and a personalised profile on the MovieExtras website, used by over 1,000 production companies and casting directors in Ireland. Vouchers are €89 and are available from www.MovieExtras.ie .

Graphic Studio Gallery's exhibition "Little Christmas" features more than 80 artworks (priced at €180) from Ireland's leading printmakersresponding to manuscripts signed by Irish contemporary writers. Graphic Studio Gallery, Temple Bar, Dublin, www.graphicstudiodublin.com

Followers of the Eircom League of Irelandcan now support their clubs by buying a supporter pack with crest, beach towel, hat, scarf, window sticker and gym bag. It costs €75, of which €30 goes straight to your club's coffers. Go to www.myteam.ie to order.

Come fly with me! Flying lessonsfrom Topgifts.ie start at €125 for a 30-minute lesson. The Hovercrafting Grand Prix Experience is a great gift for any extreme speed junkies. Definitely not for the faint-hearted.

Fleece baby blanketshandmade by Ger Collins in Galway can be personalised with baby's name and date of birth: €28 from Lola Rose, 1 Middle Street, Galway and from www.lolarose.ie.