Following on from the success of the inaugural To Be Irish At Christmas initiative last year, the platform returns this year to celebrate what it means to be Irish and creating meaningful connections with our Irish diaspora around the world. Derived from the Government’s new Diaspora Strategy, as launched by the Minister of State for the Diaspora, Colm Brophy T.D., last November. It features seasonal traditions, community initiatives, Irish crafts and gift ideas, and more. With over 100 retailers already on board and more registering every day, Christmas 2021 is a fantastic time to celebrate the talented crafters and makers to be found all over the country. The Irish crafts and gifts stores featured are a celebration of the unrivalled creativity and quality workmanship that can be found in modern Ireland. We will be highlighting and celebrating the best of Irish printmakers, illustrators, jewellery makers and much, much more. Many participating shops have a strong focus on sustainability and supporting local entrepreneurs. We’ve included a snapshot of some of this years’ participants below but all details can also be found at ToBeIrish.ie/gifting
With each passing year, we look for more ways to live more sustainably and leave less of a mark on the world around us. This can be difficult for everyone but especially for parents of young children requiring constant toy upgrades. Clever Tots Toy Club is a monthly toy rental service that allows parents to provide age and developmentally appropriate toys to their children while also ticking the sustainably sourced and circular purchasing boxes. While living in Dubai, husband and wife team Didier and Jenel availed of a toy rental service for their son, reducing waste without compromising on choice and variety. However, upon return to Ireland they could find no such service available and so the Clever Tots Toy Club was born! Keeping sustainability at the very core of their business, Clever Tots provides eco-friendly wooden toys as well as those from recycled plastics, proving that amazing toys for children don’t need to cost the earth on any level.
If you’re hoping to share a little sparkle this festive season, then look no further than the team over at Cabochon Diamonds who are renowned for their conflict free, fine jewellery range. Proof that choosing ethically sourced doesn’t have to mean a compromise on style, Cabochon are experts in high grade, affordable diamond simulants. Based in County Louth, sister duo Lisa & Leanne Campbell are renowned for their high-grade diamond simulants – synthetic diamonds set in sterling silver and designed by Lisa and Leanne. With a background in jewellery and having worked for many years in Saudi Arabia, Lisa recognised a gap in the market for an alternative and lower cost option to traditional diamonds and something that would be eagerly received by environmentally conscious consumers. With the help of her business savvy sister, the pair have made a real success story of their brand.
It can be hard to find the perfect card at Christmas, one that’s beautiful but yet captures the sentiment of the season, something which is even more important of late for those who are missing family and friends. Enter makers All Around The Sun – eye-catching, handcrafted cards created in Dublin by couple Anna O’Byrne and Brian Heffernan. Their unique range is a direct result of combining the talents of a fine artist and maker with a graphic designer and the results are just stunning! From their shared workspace along the River Liffey in Dublin, this talented pair join creative forces. With sustainability, craft and community at the heart of All Around The Sun’s ethos, they are a beautiful choice of card to send to your loved ones near and far this Christmas. You can rest easy knowing that they source as many materials as possible locally, as well as supporting other local makers and what little packaging they use is made with recycled material or biodegradable plastic.
Studio Eight in County Cavan is perfect if looking for a personalised gift that the recipient will treasure forever. Each piece is custom made by owner Kirsten from her picturesque lakeside home studio, using a mix of techniques including embroidery, print and paper craft. The result is a fantastic range of keepsake gifts and felt accessories for every occasion. Their thoughtful Christmas collection for 2021 consists of a range of personalised festive gifts and décor pieces that can also be customised to match any home colour scheme. It was originally created as a hobby but as word spread and the order book started filling up, it became a full-time working studio in 2017, shipping to all over Ireland and the UK.
Sadly, we know not everybody can make it back to Irish shores this year. If you have a loved one abroad and feeling homesick, why not Irishify their lives with a touch of home? This unique company facilitates sending greetings, video messages and hampers to your friends or family in any corner of the globe. You can send them their favourite, quintessentially Irish, edible treats or how about a custom shoutout from one of Ireland’s best loved stars? There’s a huge range to choose from including musicians, sports stars, actors and comedians which are sure to delight anyone missing home this Christmas.
And finally, if you’re looking to treat your four-legged friends, look no further than Mellow’s Meadow for a beautifully designed, handmade piece of dog or cat furniture that will blend in perfectly with the décor of your home. Named after their own much loved rescue dog, Mellow, who they brought home to Ireland to enjoy her very own Irish meadow, owners Fergus and Jenny share the goal of sharing their comfortable, beautiful and functional designs with fellow pet lovers and use natural materials such as wood, rattan and wool to ensure maximum safety and comfort. After a decade of working on Broadway as a designer and helping sick animals at the ASPCA, Fergus and Jenny decided to return to Ireland to produce these fantastic products with love from their home to yours.
To Be Irish continues to accept further business registrations for their gifting section. Visit www.tobeirish.ie/gifting
‘To Be Irish At Christmas’ which will run December 8th – 23rd this year, aims to reflect the diversity of contemporary Irish culture and is for everyone to enjoy; those born in Ireland, with ancestry in Ireland or those with a grá for Ireland. Targeting the 70M diaspora around the world, last year’s initiative generated engagement of people from over 50 countries across the world, from Australia to The Netherlands, from Colombia to Singapore. The reopening of international travel brings renewed hope for those who have endured long and painful separations from families and friends, but there are still many who will not be able to travel. ‘To Be Irish’ wants to bring the very best of Ireland to them through this virtual portal.
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