Living ones life and going forward is the best way to combat senseless situations. The Boston attacks are not forgiven nor forgotten, but life is a finite commodity and mean’t to be lived to it’s fullest. This weekend I’ll be heading to a yearly Irish craft show designed to showcase Irish craft vendors to retailers across America.
The best thing about visiting this annual Irish craft show is seeing old friends and making new ones. There will be plenty there whose only intent is to sell sell sell, which I respect, but many are like Ireland herself honest down to earth with a bit of larceny mixed in. It will be interesting to see how many of the familiar crafters have weathered the economic doldrums and managed to stay afloat. In the words of John Condron of Fado Jewelry Dublin, “Brian I’ve never worked so hard to stay in one place”. John of course has the advantage of having a superior product and reputation to aid in surviving trying times, and John never stays in one place, he is always moving forward.
The Irish economy like the maiden on the railroad tracks has been doomed to failure, saved, to only be kidnapped again, it takes a compulsive gambler to stay in this niche gift business.
My favorite Irish Craft Show products and People
Fado Jewelry, Dublin.
Fado has the finest wedding rings in the industry, besides all the claddagh, knot, and history based pieces, Fado is the leader in wedding bands.
Irish turf aroma, Tipperary.
An Irish turf fire in an incense burner. The distinctive aroma given off by the burning of turf is captured in a 1 inch block of incense. Set to smolder on it’s own slate fire pit, Irish turf aroma brings back memories through scent. The company owner and character Joannes Berkery is a delight. Whether she is singing a song in the pub after party or providing a bit of baileys for a good bye, Joannes is a whirling dervish of life loving fun and enduring hard work.
Shandon Irish caps, Cork.
There are many fine Irish cap makers in Ireland, and all make there caps from good Donegal tweed, but I just like the fit of a Shandon cap the best. Greg O’Gorman is as likeable a man as you’ll find, though his views on the global environment are Gore like, no one can be perfect.
Inis perfume, the scent of the sea.
Inis is distibuted through a lovely girl named Heather. I’ve known heather for up to twenty years and I still couldn’t tell you her last name as she never has to use it. A chat and an order, and a chat, it’s a beautiful way to do business. The Inis is a light perfume that sells itself.
The trade show gets harder each year to find real Irish product, as more and more small companies create cheap product in China. Something that looks Irish but doesn’t come close, something to sell at a low price point to the masses. What is missing is the tie to the land, the story and history of the piece, and the pride of the crafter. There will always be room for locally produced tee shirts or stickers, but if I want an Irish Tara broach I’d like it to be Irish.
And of Course a story.
A fellow walks into my gift shop steaming. “Where’s your Waterford from” I tell him The crystal in the windows are all Heritage Crystal from Bilberry County Waterford. He tells me he’s just back from a trip to Ireland and purchased the vase he was holding at Shannon airport. ”This vase says that it’s made in Poland” “I didn’t want a polish vase I wanted an Irish vase”. Well it turns out that the waterford vase he bought in Ireland was made in Poland and shipped to Shannon for re sale, after explaining he asks if he could exchange the vase. I tell him that I would like to but I don’t sell waterford crystal I sell Irish crystal, which gets a smirk out of him, and a bit of a smile. The fellow buys one of the Heritage Irish Crystal vases and laughs as he says, “Who’d figure I’d travel to Ireland and back to find an Irish vase right here in Boston? He had a good point .
So be vigilant know what you are buying, check the little labels and the fine print and support the true Irish Craft of Ireland.
Almost forgot. There are showman at these shows, they bedazzle the Americans with Irish folk songs and laugh quite a bit. Learn the words, wait your turn, and after a show or two you’ll find yourself part of the gang. Here’s hoping Leo Doherty is still around to amaze all with his show stopping repitoire, really my favorite part of this Irish craft show.