The Perfect Irish Cure for Jet Lag

It’s May 2017, and Laura and I are finally on our way to Ireland for a combination business and pleasure trip. We’ll check off some of the sites we have yet to see, such as the Rock of Cashel and the Cliffs of Moher, as well as visit the studios and manufacturing facilities of several of our suppliers. After a number of delays both in Cleveland and Newark, we finally arrive late morning in Dublin.

Good to know….

That first day in Ireland is always tricky. You arrive in the morning after having flown all night, with very little to no sleep. Your first instinct is to get to your hotel and settle right into bed. But no way are we going to waste one of our few precious days on the Emerald Isle. After passing our first sign at the airport reminding us that we will now have to drive on the left, we make our way to our hotel, park our bags in the office (our room is not yet ready), and head out to explore Dublin City.

We are famished but not sure what meal to get, since we have missed many by crossing so many time zones. So like good tourists, we head straight to the legendary Leo Burdock’s, Dublin’s oldest chipper, for some traditional fish and chips.

Leo Burdock’s fish and chips — the breakfast (lunch?) of champions.

The long list of celebrities who grace their Hall of Fame wall include U2, Bruce Springsteen, and Mick Jagger. Standing in line with many other tourists for that quintessentially Irish tradition (which sadly is no longer wrapped in newspaper for health reason), we take away our heaping portions and devour them on a bench in front of Christ Church Cathedral. Luckily for us, the sun is shining and it’s a beautiful day.

Doug and the Brazen Head

We then stroll past the Brazen Head, Ireland’s oldest Pub (established in 1198!), through the Temple Bar area, and toward Trinity College, where we meet up with one of our jewelry artisans, Tracy Gilbert, at the Bank on College Green. Unfortunately, circumstances did not allow us to meet Tracy in her studio, but the Bank is an unbelievable bar and restaurant, fabulously and exquisitely converted from a venerable bank. (If you visit, make sure you go downstairs to use the bathrooms, which are among the old bank vaults.)

Laura, Tracy, and Doug at the gorgeous Bank on College Green.

It is great to see Tracy again and to enjoy a Guinness and Smithwicks with her. Tracy masterfully crafts some amazing jewelry that we carry on our website, capturing the spirit and essence of Ireland’s Celtic past. We knew she was an awesome craftsperson, but we also find out that like us, she is a long-distance runner who successfully completed her first marathon, in Dublin, in October 2016. We certainly have a lot to talk about!

Several hours later, we say our goodbyes as she has to catch the train to her home and family. Laura and I grab a quick dinner, walk back to our hotel, and check in. What a terrific first day in Ireland. Jet lag? What jet lag? But now it’s time to rest up for another great day.

Want to learn more about Tracy Gilbert’s stunning Celtic-inspired sterling silver jewelry? You can view the Tracy Gilbert Designs Collection here.

Trinity Heart pendant with birthstone, handcrafted by Tracy Gilbert.

Green is on Top

For any of you who drive a car or, for that matter, have ever been a passenger, one factor always remains constant—a traffic light is red on the top, yellow in the middle, and green on the bottom.  Take a drive to Tipperary Hill in Syracuse, New York, however, and you might think you are standing on your head. The traffic light there is reversed, with green on top and red on the bottom.green-on-top1

Why, you ask? The reason is probably more Irish urban legend than historical fact, but it helps to know that this section of town is very proud of its Irish heritage. In fact, they have a parade every February just to kick off the St. Patrick’s Day season!

When the traffic light was first installed way back in 1925, it was just an ordinary traffic light. The young Irishmen in the area, however, could not stand for the British red being on top of the Irish green.  Repeated stone throwing and subsequent fixing of the broken light caused the city leaders to relent, and the order of the traffic light’s colors has been reversed ever since.

No one can actually find concrete evidence of the timing of the above incident, except for interviews of the widows of the stone-throwing youths. Nevertheless, the traffic light has gained infamous status in this proud Irish section of the city. In fact, when the Irish prime minister came to the United States in 1995, he made a point of visiting the traffic light on Tipperary Hill.

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So the next time you are driving in Syracuse, make sure you make your way over to the intersection of Milton Ave. and Tompkins St. to visit this one-of-a-kind traffic light. But remember—green still means “go” and red still means “stop,” no matter what’s on top.

http://www.EverIrishGifts.com

Own a Piece of Ireland — Really.

County_Tip2

We wish this adorable cottage in County Tipperary were ours!

Does the word “Ireland” conjure wonderful images in your mind, like it does in ours? From unspoiled coastlines to endless green vistas, from roaming sheep to hardworking sheepdogs, from stately castles to charming thatched-roof cottages, Ireland holds a special place in our hearts.

Because we’re just a little bit … obsessed with Ireland, we collect interesting facts about the country the way some people collect sports trivia. Did you know, for example, that the average height of an Irish man is 5′ 8″, while that of the average Irish woman is 5′ 5″? Or that the Irish report the lowest number of annual UFO sightings in Europe? Very sensible folks, the Irish. Fifty-seven percent of all Irish wear glasses or contacts, but only nine percent are redheads — at least natural redheads.

Cats now outnumber dogs two to one in Ireland, and Dublin boasts one pub for every 100 human residents. The shortest man in Irish history was Raymond O’Brien, who died in 1795 and measured 1′ 11″, while the longest river in Ireland, and indeed in all of Britain, is the River Shannon, at 224 miles.

And we know we’re not the only ones crazy about Ireland. Because although 7.73 percent of Americans are unable to identify Ireland on a map without country names, that means that more than 92 percent of Americans can! We’re in touch with many of you American lovers of Ireland, so we also know how much you’d love to visit the country someday, if you haven’t already.

So given how much Ireland means to you, wouldn’t it be amazing to own land there, visiting your very own lush, green property in the beautiful Irish countryside, whenever the mood strikes? Believe it or not, that’s not an impossible fantasy or dream. As part of Ever Irish Gifts’s “Roots in Ireland” personalized gift collection, you can own a small plot of land (1′ x 1′, to be exact) in rural County Roscommon, Ireland, Piece of Ireland1that will be yours, or a special gift recipient’s, forever. This unique and personal gift, coordinated by BuyIreland, is meaningful for anyone who feels a strong connection to the magnificent island of Ireland and has always dreamed of someday buying property there. There is no better way to celebrate the love of Ireland than by owning — and even visiting — your own little piece of it. It’s a perfect way to reconnect with your Irish heritage and ideal for anyone who calls Ireland his or her spiritual or ancestral home or who simply admires the country’s rich cultural and natural diversity.

With a beautiful certificate, complete with a reproduction of an original illustration by Irish artist Francis Leavey, wax seal, official land deed, and two framing options to display your certificate for everyone to see, this is a must-have gift. Visit http://www.everirishgifts.com/info/Buy_Ireland.aspx for all the details.

Stay Ever Irish,
Doug

Pushing the Envelope: Antique Irish Maps Out, Postal Codes In

Antique maps of Ireland are beautiful and might be just as helpful in assisting the modern Irish Post Office to deliver the mail as they might have been in the 1800s.

Postman

Why? Because Ireland today, even with its technology-driven economy, does not use any postal codes. Many parts of rural Ireland don’t use street addresses, and some don’t even use street names. The Wall Street Journal reports that more than a third of Ireland’s official 2.2 million residential addresses refer to more than one household, which makes delivering mail quite a challenge in a country full of Murphys, Kellys, and Callahans.

PostboxThe modern world’s first postal codes seem to have been used in London in 1856, while the U.S. first started to use ZIP codes to help mail delivery in 1943. The U.S. Post Office was forced to use the codes during World War II when new mail carriers, unfamiliar with the neighborhoods, were replacing those carriers who had been sent off to the war. As sorting equipment has become more advanced, ZIP codes have gone from five digits to nine to some as long as 31 digits, which show up as bar codes at the bottom of the envelope.

Now it appears that the last holdout, An Post, Ireland’s postal service, will scrap the antique maps of Ireland, the cheat sheets that some carriers carry with handwritten names of residents on their route, and its private internal code system kept hidden from the public. Next spring, it will roll out its own postal code system. Now, when three Kevin Callahans live in the same County Tipperary town, the post office won’t have to deliver mail first to the one who has been there the longest.

Irish_Routes_Visscher_Map_FramedOf course, there is still nothing quite like physically holding an antique map of Ireland to revel in its charm, color, and detail, all laboriously made by hand. http://www.EverIrishGifts.com has a large selection of stunning reproduction antique Irish maps, in the form of a paperweight, coaster, and good old map, all attractively presented in elegant handmade paper packaging. Browse the selection at http://everirishgifts.com/products/Irish_Maps.aspx.

Stay Ever Irish,
Doug

Our Irish Driving Trip—Five Things About Driving on the Left to Make Your Visit Right

Somehow we found our way to Kilkenny

Somehow we found our way to Kilkenny

Laura and I visited Ireland in January to attend Showcase Ireland in Dublin, the Irish crafts and products trade show. After finding a number of spectacular new items to add to the Ever Irish Gifts site, we rented a car to travel the Irish countryside and visit the workshop and studios of several of our craftsmen. What a fabulous—and, occasionally, exciting—adventure.

Ireland is truly a majestic country and so worth a visit, but if you decide to tackle it from behind the wheel of your own car, we suggest you keep a few points in mind.

  1.  To my mind, renting a car is the best way to see the countryside. Notice that I said “countryside,” and not Dublin. Dublin is congested, lots of one-way streets, and challenging parking. Walk or take public transportation or a taxi when in the city, and then do as we did, go by taxi to the car rental location, which is preferably is located on the outskirts of town.
  2. Driving on the left side of the road is a bit confusing at first, but you get used to it. Strangely enough, readjusting to driving the right side again once back in the States was actually more difficult for me. My advice, however, is to rent an automatic car. Unless you are very experienced with a manual transmission, operating a stick shift with your other hand, while sitting on the other side of the car and driving on the other side of the street, takes way more concentration and dexterity than you may be prepared to devote. We hadn’t even driven our stick-shift car out of the rental car lot before we changed our minds, hopped out, and went back in to the office to exchange it for an automatic. Yes, it was more expensive, but it was worth every euro to me. Just make sure you indicate your preference when making the reservation.
  3. Rent as small a car as you reasonably can fit into. You will be shocked at how narrow many of the streets are once you get off the main motorways. A number of times, as a vehicle approached from the opposite direction, I would pull as far over to the left as I could, stop, and then just close my eyes and pray as it roared by. Mind you, I may have slowed down, but the other drivers, particularly those in trucks, apparently never even considered applying the brakes. Take my advice and accept the insurance from the car rental agency (and read what is or isn’t covered, because it is different from the policies in the U.S.).
  4. Understand that addresses basically don’t exist in many villages. Street names are difficult to determine since many of the signs are hidden or simply missing. When visiting some of our suppliers, all we had to help us in locating them was a village name, but somehow we managed to find everyone–eventually. If your spouse (like mine) has a difficult time reading a map, save your relationship and get a GPS. Realize, however, that you are most likely going to have to enter the longitude and latitude coordinates, so make sure you know how to do that.
  5. Don’t expect to get anyplace quickly. It always took twice as long for us to travel the same distance as it does over here. Signs are either nonexistent or confusing, roundabouts can be tricky (although you can keep going around in circles while you figure out which road you want to take), and one-way streets as you enter towns can throw you off course easily. So go at a leisurely pace, plan to get lost, and enjoy the scenery and experience. It is worth the drive.

Of course, in the 1700 and 1800s, traveling in Ireland was a lot different, but the maps of those eras were beautiful and awe-inspiring. Check out our selection of brilliant Irish country and county map reproductions. You won’t be making a wrong turn.

Ireland as depicted by Visscher in 1700. 1700!

Ireland as depicted by Visscher in 1700. 1700!

Stay Ever Irish,

Doug