For him: The pick of gifts for the men in your life this Christmas

Forget socks and slippers – take a look at these unusual and covetable gifts and experiences

Turas bikes

These are designed in Ballinasloe, built and painted in Italy. Turas bikes notched up 22 wins at national and international events in 2013 for the Nicolas Roche Performance Team. See how the Saint Vincent lightweight 7005 alloy frame and carbon fork with Shimano 105 components can cut down your man's commute time.

Redfoxpress books

These delightful silkscreen books printed on unusual paper (1920s wallpaper, 1950s Korean shelf-liner) are handmade in a tiny cottage on Achill Island by a Belgian book artist and his South Korean partner. They are tactile visual feasts that show how sensual and structurally quirky a book can be. Most of the limited editions rise in value – from €30.


Truffle trees
Johnstown Nurseries in Naas claim that their hazel trees inoculated with the truffle fungus will produce 1kg of truffles within five years, not to mention ample hazelnuts too. A kilo of truffles is worth up to €600, and while the Italian white or French black truffles mightn't thrive in Ireland, the Northern summer truffle does. They cost €28.

Thermarest mattresses
The finest sleeping mat in the world, made in Midleton, Cork and Seattle, Washington. Just using it once a year at Electric Picnic or when sleeping with a sick relative in hospital will repay itself in terms of extra comfort, warmth and sleep-time. Phenomenally durable. My 1979 mat is still perfect. €70.


Ecases allow one to use mobile devices in any weather. They make it possible to hold an audible phone conversation in the middle of a gale or cloud burst. By magical osmosis the touchscreen and camera are fully operational through the plastic. Each case is tested to withstand full water submersion. Models for smartphones, tablets, GPS trackers, etc. From €35.

Powermonkey Discovery

This tiny aluminium-cased lifesaver will recharge an iPhone twice, standard mobile phones three to four times, or give iPods an additional 120 hours playtime. Will also charge e-readers, Sat Navs, laptops, GPS, etc. We all need one at times. €55.

Jambox for Jawbone
This is a portable speaker that connects via Bluetooth with mobile phones, computers, tablets and ipods. Great audio quality, impressive battery duration and elegant design. Can be used as a speaker phone for conference calls too – ideal while driving. €120.

The Organic Centre
Any of the courses held here will make you feel more able, productive and self-sufficient. The choice runs from potato-growing to willow basket making. €65.

Inis Meáin Bowtie

Add a touch of the Aran Islands to any suit with these rustic, knitted ties. Not rough Connemara sheep-wool or hemp fibre, but finest merino and cashmere. €47.

Meat on trees in Westport, Co Mayo propagate walnut trees, cobnut trees and Spanish chestnuts that within a few years of planting can provide an entire family's protein. Andy Wilson has specially developed cultivars suited to the Irish climate. It may no longer be acceptable to go out and kill meat for the family dinner, but a man can still climb a tree to pick nut-meat off the branches. From €30.

MIM (Made in Mongolia) slippers
The cosiest slippers in the world are made by a joint Irish-Mongolian non-profit group supported by the Irish Government and the Dalai Lama. The venture empowers woman in Ulaanbaatar and beyond in the wilds of the Gobi desert by blending traditional felt-making skills with Irish-design. €60.

Lisbeth Mulcahy scarves
All men should be coaxed into wearing scarves – they banish sore throats and enliven drab overcoats. This Danish-born, Dingle-based weaver uses lustrous merino lambswool from Italy, linen from Belfast and soft alpaca from Peru to create elegant, super-thin snuggle duvets for the throat. €30.

Bog oak batons
Celtic Roots Studio in Westmeath will recreate anything you like in 4,500-year-old bog oak. Recent commissions include jogging runners, iPad stands and butter knives – from €60.

Holden Leather

Belts, bags and wallets that are lovingly crafted on the


peninsula and become more characterful and supple with each year of use. Their simplicity of design and excellence of leather make the expense bearable. The soft Italian leather briefcase is a sobering €535, but the leather wallet will provide just as much tactile pleasure for €98.

Sporthouse bags
This Waterford-based company specialise in making bags for the Irish Army and An Post. While their rucksacks may not have the cachet of Louis Vuitton or Lowe Alpine, the seams, buckles and stitching are as strong as any of them, and they'll gladly repair a bag you bought from them 20 ago. True travellers trust them with their lives.

Tutty's Handmade Shoes
Tutty's have been making hand-crafted footwear outside Naas for two generations. Each pair is crafted individually for the user. Favoured as much by the fashion-conscious as by shopkeepers and publicans who, spending their days standing, appreciate the €400 investment will recoup itself many times over during the decades of comfort one can expect from each pair.

The Tweed Project

Aoibheann McNamara (of hip Galway café, Ard Bia) and Triona Lillis have teamed up to make Irish men's clothing. Their rustic trousers, hand-sewn from cottage-woven Donegal tweed, cost an expensive, but acceptable €250. Their Irish linen shirts, hand-sewn in Galway, seem exorbitant at the same price, though the thickness of the linen helps one forget the price shock.

Man Class
This an edgy, dynamic one-day cookery course run by Carmel Somers of Good Things Café in Durrus Co Cork for men who yearn to unleash their inner Gordon Ramsay. Even the most Neanderthal male will be storming the kitchen to cook up dishes such as a Man's Breakfast of roasted prawns, baked eggs and blackened tomatoes. €200.

Chopping board
He might look askance at most cooking utensil presents, but these stout European oak boards made by Castlepollard–based Jerry Thomas are as suited to the workshop as the kitchen. They form part of Helen James' Considered range for Dunnes Stores. €30. helenjames

An online art gallery of emerging and young artists established by Patricia Tsouros and Katie Tsouros, with special selections from international guest curators. They even have a range chosen specifically for bachelor pads, and another of artworks under €100.

The Salvage Press
Beautiful letterpress printed books and broadsides by artist and designer Jamie Murphy, based in Clonshaugh Dublin. This quixotic endeavour to revivify ancient forms of typography and letterpress printing makes for gorgeous collectible gifts. Quirky reprints of titles such as Jonathan Swift's A Beautiful Young Nymph Going to Bed, €45 and broadsides based on the lyrics of Tribe Called Quest songs, €80.

Wooden Kayaks

Wild Geese Kayaks in Mullingar make hand-varnished cedar and plywood kayaks allowing you to experience the wilds of Ireland in as natural a way as possible. €1,800.

Float tubes
A float tube (also known as a belly boat) is a cross between an inflatable swimming ring and a tiny rubber dingy. It allows you to float across lakes or rivers like an ungainly swan. It looks and sounds ludicrous, but is fun and ideal for angling. The float tube costs from €160, fins and waders are extra.

Wind paddles
This is an ingenious sailing device that attaches to most kayaks, canoes and sit-ons, transforming your humble kayak into a yacht (sort of). Why shouldn't the paddler be able to harness the power of the wind? Darren's Kayaks will fit it for you and bring you out on the water to show you how to use it. From €300.

Seaweed foraging
Men may no longer bring home the bacon, but why not the kelp, dulse and sea lettuce? They are hardwired to forage; allow them scratch the itch with three great seaweed harvesting books: Sally McKenna's Extreme Greens, Prannie Rhatigan's Irish Seaweed Kitchen, Marie Power's The Sea Garden. €60 for all three books. Avoid Amazon by using Kennys Bookshop online, which offers free worldwide delivery.

Insulated swimming cap
Instead of a gym membership splash out on a silicone/neoprene swimming cap and point him towards the water. We are enviably close to the ocean in Ireland. The Gulf Stream ensures a pleasant eight degrees in even the coldest months. An insulated cap avoids brain freeze, vigorous swimming will keep the rest of the body warm. He'll thank you – eventually. From €25.

Coasteering on Clare Island
Three hours of sea-jumping, rock-climbing, pot-holing and body surfing along gullies, caves, cracks and different coastal rock formations. Insulated wetsuits, buoyancy aid and white-water helmet ensure one survives intact. €40.

Canyoning through the Gap of Dunloe
A one-day adventure ride though the ice-carved canyon of the Gap of Dunloe, kayaking through streams, rivers, lakes, gorges, cascades and tracks, using rope and trolley in places. It's a 150 metre drop over six kilometres. €90 for an unforgettable adrenalin rush.

Bloc party
This turns snaps into art, mounting your man's favourite pic on to a smart and sleek acrylic panel. Email your images and pictures and they'll take it from there. Last date for Christmas ordering December 12th. There's a 10 per cent off festive special, prices start from €19.79 for a desktop bloc. Delivery extra, or collect.

Blanket offer

Cosy up with him under a Zwartable wool rug. Have you heard of Zwartable sheep? It seems they produce the finest wool you'll find in Ireland, and these tasty blankets come in manly dark grey with a white stripe – to match the sheep they come from. €155 from

The big cheese
It's cheesy present time – literally – with the Big Cheese Making Kit. Choose between halloumi, mozzarella and ricotta, and goat's cheese and bring out the organic new man in any bloke. Just add milk. €30 from Designist.

Caffeine fix
Maybe this is an attempt to prevent Nespresso taking over the coffee world, but the bean grinders are fighting back. Bewleys and Robert Roberts both have coffee clubs for Christmas. Sign your man up and he will get special deliveries of coffee throughout 2015. €49.99 for eight deliveries from and from €60 for six months membership., which also includes a café discount card. Bottle light Small is beautiful and inexpensive with this tasty trinket by SuckUK. A rechargeable Led cork-shaped light turns bottles into lamps – to cast a romantic glow when the wine is all gone. €12.50 from Designist.

Sennheiser headphones
Big headphones are in. As everything else gets smaller, have you noticed how headphones are growing?

The ultra-cool Urbanite XL Isofront set from Sennheiser comes in denim blue, features what I'm told is "massive bass" and lets you take calls on your iPhone too. €179.99 at

Coast watch
Atlantic Equipment is based on the Sligo coast and its gear, it says, is the result of "six years of classical industrial design study and work, lots of years of bodyboarding, surfing and muddy salty adventure". The backpacks are rugged, hand-made and very cool. From €65 from

Tidal times
Tide clocks let you time your beach walks perfectly. Set them at high tide on a full moon (sounds like witchcraft, but it works) and you'll always have plenty of sand or surf – whichever best takes your man's fancy. Posts from Britain, so last orders for Christmas by December 13th please. It costs £29.95 (€37.50) plus p&p.

Snap happy
Smart phones and digital cameras have transformed photography, but it's gorgeous to get into some darkroom magic. The Gallery of Photography runs courses throughout the year, including digital photography, framing and creative photography.

Try the black and white course – for four Saturdays from January 31st. €195 (discounts available for members).

The cup that cheers
Have a manly coffee (perhaps with a brew from one of the coffee clubs?) with these individually made Jack Doherty porcelain cups.

In smoky grey, earth tones and sky blue, no two are alike. €22 each plus p&p. from

Spirit of Christmas
Stay chilled without diluting anyone's spirits with Irish Whiskey Stones, a classy set of nine Connemara marble cubes that you ice in the freezer before using to cool your before-or-after dinner drinks. €28 from

Gifts for all year
A calendars is a daily reminder of your generosity. It is also great for the man who isn't so great at remembering special dates (just write 'em in in advance).

Choose from charity offerings, such as It's a Dog's Life from Irish Guide Dogs, €8 at, or for a designer edge, the Project Twins' collaboration with the Irish Design Shop is a calendar that turns into 12 art works at the end of the year. €32. Get shirty We couldn't do a gift guide for men without cufflinks, it just wouldn't seem right. An elegant pair are by Gagaliardi will add a discrete spot of chic to his shirt. €35 from Arnotts.

Gift of friendship
Festivals and cultural institutions around Ireland have friends schemes that offer invites, discounts, outings and other goodies.

Starting at €50 a year at the Royal Hibernian Academy, to €125 with the National Concert Hall,, up to to €150 for membership at the Galway Arts Festival, It is a gift you may well get to enjoy with him.