Like any great city, Dublin is always revealing itself in new ways, which keeps its allure fresh. But it also has places to which I invariably return — often shops with bits and bobs that strike me as quintessentially Irish. Here a few of my favorites:
This wonderful store just off Grafton Street specializes in woven goods — throws, scarves, blankets in colors from rainbow bright to autumnally subtle — as well as a fantastic array of housewares. It also carries a range of artisan food products and preserves, my favorite being Hedgerow Jam, made of blueberries and blackberries. The top-floor café is delightful for breakfast. 11-13 Suffolk Street.
One of the first places I went on my initial trip to Dublin almost 30 years ago, this wonderful café has changed hands a couple of times but its atmosphere has remained the same. While you can get a full meal here, I drop in for a cup of good tea and a scone with generous helpings of butter and jam, perfect for midmorning or afternoon. You can purchase the same tea, loose or in bags, to bring home for a little taste of Dublin. 78-79 Grafton Street.
My affection for Irish music is not such that it is part of the daily Harper playlist, but there are certainly moments when it is exactly what I want to listen to. I have found this shop to be a dependable source of surprising finds over the years, and always enjoy dropping in and asking for the staff’s recommendations for something new — or new to me. The selection of CDs is about the best I know in the field. Just going in for a listen makes for a nice break in the day. 14-15 Nassau Street.
This lovely shop has a fine array of Irish products, including top-quality linens, crystal and china — the selection of Waterford (although much is now made outside of Ireland) and Belleek is particularly good. It was here that I first saw Belleek’s just-released Aran line of tableware based on the classic designs of the famous fishermen’s sweaters of the west coast. It was nowhere in sight just a few days earlier when we visited the Belleek factory in Northern Ireland. 37-38 Nassau Street.
I know of no better source for good Irish tweeds than this delightful shop. Here, you will find an incomparable array of jackets, hats, waistcoats, ties, scarves and more, all showing off the art of Irish weaving to best effect. I find it so alluring that I have to restrain myself from walking out with yet another cap. 31 Nassau Street.
This is the flagship of a small group of shops that actively promotes Irish design and products. The range is more eclectic than that of the nearby House of Ireland, so in addition to crystal and china, you’ll find fragrant handmade soaps, pottery and foodstuffs. Our most recent visit came during the week that a new crystal company, Emerald, made its debut with a handsome line of vases and bowls, the handcrafted work of artisans formerly at Waterford. While there is some overlap with House of Ireland, it is worth visiting both, just a short stroll apart on Nassau Street. 6-15 Nassau Street.