What’s New from Belleek Pottery

 

At Creative Irish Gifts, we’re big fans of Belleek Pottery. Since 1857, Belleek has been lovingly crafted in Northern Ireland, and each piece is held to the highest of standards—being broken if it is absolutely perfect. The company’s rich history has led it to become a collector’s staple in many households throughout not only the Emerald Isle but also the world.

 

This spring they are debuting new pieces here at Creative Irish Gifts. Read on to find one of these iconic cream-hued collectibles to add to your home.

 

 

 

Claddagh Butter Dish 

With gatherings such as Easter, Mother’s Day, and Father’s Day upon us, you’re sure to be hosting family and loved ones for a meal. Set the table with an heirloom-quality butter dish featuring a treasured Irish symbol, the Claddagh. The dish’s neutral creamy hue is sure to match any pattern you use on the table.

 

 

 

Claddagh Pitcher 

Create a coordinating set by adding this pitcher to the butter dish shown above. These can be an especially sweet pairing for a breakfast or brunch where you want to serve pancakes or waffles with butter and syrup. This small (19 oz) pitcher is also ideal for juice or milk.

 

 

 

Belleek 2019 Azalea Cottage Annual Ornament

It’s not too early to think about decorating your holiday tree. This cute-as-can-be cottage is Belleek’s annual Christmas ornament release but is colorful enough to be displayed throughout the year. These also make great gifts for anyone who appreciates the Irish countryside.

 

 

 

Connemara Vase  

If you like a little color in your accessories, this vase is for you. The scene depicts an Irish countryside dotted with sheep, trees, and a charming cottage. It’s sure to be a treasured piece that reminds you of Ireland each time you use it.

 

 

 

Love Knot Trinket Box  

Stow your jewelry or small keepsakes in a porcelain box featuring the symbols of Ireland, including shamrocks and Celtic knotwork. This piece makes a great gift for a bride-to-be or a special present for any mother with Irish heritage.

 

 

 

Masterpiece Collection Celtic Clock 

There’s nothing quite as timeless as a mantel clock. This version is crafted to Belleek standards and runs with the aid of a battery, meaning no winding to keep it running.

We like the idea of giving this clock as a gift for a silver or gold anniversary or for a beloved co-worker’s retirement.

Shamrock Blessings Mug 

Maybe you took a trip to Ireland and need a quick gift for someone who didn’t get to travel along or, perhaps, you want to surprise a loved one with a blessing that also speaks to his or heritage. This mug is a perfect gift for those—and numerous other—occasions. Simply sit back and sip your coffee or tea from the mug while you dream of scenes of Ireland.

Irish Prayers & Blessings

 

With the season of Lent and Easter upon us, you may find yourself seeking a time of prayerful reflection. The Irish have a long tradition of practical, aptly worded prayers and blessings. Today, we’re sharing a few of these to use during your quiet time or as your join with friends and family to celebrate.

 

 

 

St. Patrick’s Breastplate

This prayer, which is one of the most lengthy as well as most popular Irish prayers, is attributed to Saint Patrick (although some say the author is anonymous). It is said to have been written before he went to convert 5th century Irish king Leoghaire from paganism to Christianity, thus he felt he needed his armor or breastplate. Today you can use it during times of personal reflection.

 

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
of the Creator of creation.

 

I arise today
Through the strength of Christ’s birth with His baptism,
Through the strength of His crucifixion with His burial,
Through the strength of His resurrection with His ascension,
Through the strength of His descent for the judgment of doom.

 

I arise today
Through the strength of the love of cherubim,
In the obedience of angels,
In the service of archangels,
In the hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In the prayers of patriarchs,
In the predictions of prophets,
In the preaching of apostles,
In the faith of confessors,
In the innocence of holy virgins,
In the deeds of righteous men.

 

I arise today, through
The strength of heaven,
The light of the sun,
The radiance of the moon,
The splendor of fire,
The speed of lightning,
The swiftness of wind,
The depth of the sea,
The stability of the earth,
The firmness of rock.

 

I arise today, through
God’s strength to pilot me,
God’s might to uphold me,
God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s eye to look before me,
God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me,
God’s hand to guard me,
God’s shield to protect me,
God’s host to save me
From snares of devils,
From temptation of vices,
From everyone who shall wish me ill,
afar and near.

 

I summon today
All these powers between me and those evils,
Against every cruel and merciless power
that may oppose my body and soul,
Against incantations of false prophets,
Against black laws of pagandom,
Against false laws of heretics,
Against craft of idolatry,
Against spells of witches and smiths and wizards,
Against every knowledge that corrupts man’s body and soul;
Christ to shield me today
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So that there may come to me an abundance of reward.

 

Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

 

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
of the Creator of creation.

 

 

 

Christ In All

The words of this prayer appear very similar to stanzas of the Breastplate prayer; however, this is a much shorter version. If you’re looking for a prayer you can easily memorize and repeat throughout the day, start with this one. It can also be a good option for little ones to learn.

 

Christ be with me,
be after me,
be before me,
and be at my right and left hand.
May everything I do be for Christ.

 

 

 

An Old Irish Blessing

Easter is often a time of gathering with extended family, including ones you may not often see. Offer this customary Irish blessing to those around your table to extend goodwill and God’s omnipotent presence in all they do.

 

God’s might to uphold you,

God’s wisdom to guide you,

God’s eye to look before you,

God’s ear to hear you,

God’s word to speak for you,

God’s hand to guard you.

 

 

 

Traditional Irish Blessing

Finally, as the sun sets on your gathering, give this blessing before departing. Its familiar words—which you may even have on a coffee mug or plaque in your home—will sweeten the days you are apart from friends and family and remind them of your love as well as the Lord’s.

 

May the road rise to meet you.

May the wind be always at your back.

May the sun shine warm upon your face.

The rain fall soft upon your fields.

And until we meet again,

May God hold you in the palm of his hand.  

Get to Know: Colm de Ris Pottery

Colm de Ris of Colm de Ris Pottery creates handmade pieces with what he describes as a “modern Celtic feel.” We sat down with him for a chat to learn more about his passion and the process of creation.

 

 

Creative Irish Gifts: When did you start creating pottery?

Colm de Ris: As a 10-year-old, I was really lucky that I got sent to Mrs. Carroll’s Pine Forest Art Centre in Dublin, which is the city where I grew up. It was there that I first discovered clay and throwing on the wheel. I discovered I had a passion for it then, and it has stayed with me. I briefly followed a different path and was a catering manager on the QE2 ocean liner for a while before making my way back to pottery and training with some of the country’s top potters. From there, I started my own business, Colm de Ris Pottery, in 1997. We are currently based in Dublin.

 

Tell us a bit about your role in the company.

Colm de Ris: I am the director of the company and am the primary maker. I personally decorate every piece so no two can be the same, thus making every piece an original.

 

 

What types of pieces do you create?

Colm de Ris: I like for all of my pieces to be practical—having both function and beauty. I create everything from mugs and bowls to serving platters, candle pillars, oil decanters, and teapots.

 

 

We’ve noticed a theme of blue and green in your work. Tell us about this.

Colm de Ris: Yes, I do like the cool colors of that palette. The sweeping shapes and cold colors were inspired by the wild coastal landscape of the south and west of Ireland. My work is also influenced by the legends and symbols of Celtic and old Irish mythology.

 

What do you love about working with ceramics?

Colm de Ris: Clay, flame, and glazes have been my canvases. It’s always been exciting for me to create dynamic, fluid shapes to enhance and complement those energies while fusing them together in the kiln.

I also love the unpredictability and never knowing the outcome of the work you are doing today. There’s a magical type of alchemy that the raw clay goes through at the beginning of the process from throwing it on a wheel, letting it dry properly, firing it, decorating it, and firing it again. Every week having that experience of coming in to open the kiln door—it feels like Christmas morning—cause you just never know what’s going to be inside. Sometimes it’s amazing, and sometimes it’s quite painful. But, it’s always, always exciting.

 

Click here to shop the Creative Irish Gifts selection of Colm de Ris Pottery.

Irish Music: Meet Christy Moore

 

WHO IS CHRISTY MOORE?

Christy Moore is an Irish native and one of the country’s best-known folk singers and songwriters. He is the older brother of Irish folk singer and songwriter Barry Moore AKA Luka Bloom, a stage name he used when he began recording in the United States.

 

 

 

HIS STORIED CAREER:

He began his career at the young age of 22, playing in venues in Manchester—where he had moved for work—during the late 1960s. He spent the latter half of that decade honing his skill and finding his voice. His first album, “Paddy on the Road,” was released in 1969.

It was around this time he met up with other artists Andy Irvine, Donal Lunny, and Liam O’Flynn. The foursome formed the group Planxty, playing traditional Irish music with rock undertones until their split in 1974. Moore was the lead signer of this band and also played the bodhran, a traditional one-sided Irish drum, and guitar in the group. Planxty spent 5 years apart, during which time Moore worked as a solo artist once again. This pattern of solo gigs and time spent in the Planxty would become a recurring pattern in Moore’s long and much-celebrated career.

During the early 1980s, he and Donal Lunny (from Planxty) formed Moving Hearts, a band who played Celtic music on electrical instruments. He continued solo work releasing albums throughout the 80s, 90s, and 2000s. His most recent album of new recordings was released in 2016 and is titled, “Lily.” A live recording of some of his all-time biggest hits called “On the Road,” which dropped in 2017, is his most recent release.

 

 

 

POPULAR TUNES:
“The Cliffs of Dooneen” (1970)

“Black is the Colour” (1978)

“Only Our Rivers Run Free” (1983)

“City of Chicago” (1984)

“Lisdoonvarna” (1984)

“Yellow Triangle” (1996)

“North and South” (2006)

“Weekend in Amsterdam” (2011)

 

 

 

WHERE YOU CAN HEAR HIM TODAY:

Moore has a full calendar for the remainder of 2018. He is visiting numerous venues throughout Ireland. For dates and tickets, visit christymoore.com/gigs.

 

You can read more about Christy Moore, including his biography in his own words, at christymoore.com.

 

Images shown here are from the official Facebook page of Christy Moore.

Start Your Own Irish-Influenced Collection

 

Do you consider yourself to be a collector? Whether you know it or not—you probably are. It doesn’t take hundreds of something to have a collection; in fact, just a few pieces can qualify as a bona fide collection.

However, it requires a bit more thought—and often research or actual physical searching—to create a meaningful collection. We love the idea of building a collection to reflect your heritage, including pieces that can be passed down with stories of generations past and present. And, we’ve got a sweet idea for a collection that Irish women and men of all ages are sure to love, Belleek Pottery.

 

 

 

Handcrafted Pieces

For 160 years, Belleek Pottery has been handcrafting beautiful place settings, mugs, vases, lamps, and their iconic intricately detailed baskets. Their factory is located in County Fermanagh on the edge of Northern Ireland. Here, they not only create their works of art, but also offer an onsite museum of pieces and tours so you can fully immerse yourself in the history of the brand. If you’re of Irish descent, chances are you already have a piece of Belleek in your home. The creamware pieces often feature the Claddagh, simple knot work, or green shamrocks as seen on their Four Leaf Clover Basket.

 

 

 

Faith Finds

If you want to add a Christian perspective to your collection, Belleek has numerous pieces to honor your faith. For example, we love this Irish Blessing Gift Box and the Blessed Virgin Mary Statue. You’ll also find more seasonal nativity scenes and angels that will call to mind your faith each time you see them.

 

 

 

Personalize Your Collection

This October, Belleek and Creative Irish Gifts are giving you the opportunity to grow your Belleek Pottery collection (or a loved one’s!) with an exclusive signing event. Now through September 28th you have the opportunity to purchase a Belleek Personalized Bauble.

Then, on Thursday, October 4th from 8 a.m. – 12 p.m. CST, a Master Artist from the Belleek Factory will be conducting a live signing of the pieces via our Facebook page. Plus, the artisans will be giving tours of the historic Belleek factory during the live streaming.

Don’t miss this unique opportunity to start or add to your Irish-influenced collection, and be sure to tune in to Facebook to watch the event. Click here to learn more or purchase a piece.

5 Ways to Teach Little Ones About Irish Heritage

 

Irish National Heritage Week takes place August 18 – 26. So what better time to teach your kids a bit about your roots? Here are five simple ways to help them learn more about the Emerald Isle.

 

1/ Read Up

Whether your children are 2 or 22, there’s no better way to teach them about their heritage than reading stories that reflect the culture. For toddlers and elementary-age kids, we love Silly McGilly, a book about a mischievous leprechaun, and Brendan and the Blarney Stone which tells the tale of a leprechaun who hopes kissing the Blarney stone will help him to speak more eloquently. For older children, pick up a copy of Celtic Fairy Tales. This classic book, which was originally published in 1892, will take your child back in time. If you want a strictly historical perspective, try Malachy McCourt’s History of Ireland, which recounts the Emerald Isle’s history from pre-Christian times to present day.

 

 

 

2/ Bake a Traditional Irish Dish

It’s no secret that food brings everyone together, so head to the kitchen to get things cooking—Irish style. Colcannon is an easy and delicious classic Ireland dish made from potatoes and cabbage. Click here to try our simple recipe. If you prefer to bake, find a soda bread recipe to try with your youngsters.

 

 

 

3/ Groove to the Music

Teach him or her the words to Irish tunes, such as “Danny Boy” or “When Irish Eyes are Smiling.” Find a version on iTunes or a YouTube recording and add it to your little one’s playlist. While you’re at it, share a bit of history about these songs and what they mean to the Irish.

 

 

 

4/ Get Out the Map

Go online to find a map of Ireland. Point out key places to your child, such as the city or town where your ancestors were born, the capital city, and attractions or historical sites you might like to visit. If you have a paper map of the country, hang it in a central location and continue the conversation, adding pins to places you have visited or would like to see. Take the idea one step further with our Map of Ireland Throw that features a pictorial guide to the country—and is a cozy companion for afternoon naps.

 

 

 

5/ Trace Your Family Tree

Gather information on your ancestors to see if you can trace your family tree back to Ireland. Consider creating a tree-shaped craft where you fill in the names of family members for younger children, while older ones may want to conduct interviews with grandparents or great aunts and uncles for more information.

Hello World! 3 Ways to Celebrate a New Baby

 

If you’re lucky enough to know a little one who just arrived, you’re sure to want to celebrate him or her. While the tender moments of babyhood are fleeting, the thoughtfulness the family receives from loved ones leaves a lasting impression. If you have a new arrival, show him or her (and the parents) your love with one of these sweet ideas.

 

 

 

#1 Host a Sip and See

Open your home to a few of the family’s closest friends and relatives to give them all an opportunity to meet the bundle of joy. Serve sweet treats and tea while everyone oohs and ahhs over the babe. This can be an especially good idea when one or both of the parents live outside of their hometown and want to come home to introduce baby. It’s also a good idea to wait until the baby is at least eight weeks old, giving both parents and baby time to adjust.

 

 

 

#2 Give a Lasting Gift

There are so many necessities that come with a baby’s arrival, and while items such as clothing and diapers are extremely useful, they will come and go. Show your love for the newest addition with a gift that can be kept—and even passed down to a second generation. Give a silver spoon that features a shamrock on its tip for baby to take his or her first cereal. If you want to encourage saving from the start, give the little one a classic Belleek Shamrock Piggy Bank. Both can be a subtle nod to the baby’s Irish heritage and are sure to be cherished for years to come.

 

 

 

#3 Give Mom & Dad the Night Off

When you’re a new parent, there are few things more appreciated than a night off. Call the pair to see if you can help out by doing baby duty one night or afternoon. When you arrive, surprise the couple with a gift card (or a packed picnic basket) and let them enjoy a few moments of time together. If you’re ambitious, go the extra mile and do some light housekeeping or a load of laundry.

The Beaches of Ireland: Achill Island

 

If you love the great outdoors, you’re sure to fall in love with the beauty of Achill Island. Located in County Mayo, Achill Island is Ireland’s largest island, and it’s right in the middle of the Wild Atlantic Way, Western Ireland’s coastal tourist destination route. Here’s a quick roundup of places to stay, restaurants to try, and activities to enjoy! >>

 

 

Where to Stay

Mulranny Park Hotel is located right on the Great Western Greenway (see “What to Do” below for more info) and is touted as the only hotel located directly on the Wild Atlantic Way. The luxury resort features everything you need for a relaxing vacation, from a steam room to a pool, all over looking the beauty of Clew Bay. It’s suitable for both families and romantic getaways.

Once a coastguard station, the Bervie has been a hotel with a resident chef since 1932. With a storied history, it’s a place visitors to Achill have been returning to for years. Located in Keel village, you’ll enjoy views of the towering Cathedral Cliffs of Minaun as well as Clew Bay. You will be steps from sand at this location as well.

 

 

 

What to Do

If you’re feeling active, bike or walk the Great Western Greenway (pictured above). According to their site, this is the longest off-road walking and cycling trail in Ireland. There are multiple routes and trailheads, many of which are suitable for all ages, giving you the option to customize your trip to one of the three other destination points along the greenway.

On summer weekends from July to September, the Achill Yawl Festival takes place at various points around the island. A yawl is a single mast wooden sailboat. These beauties can be seen sailing around the edge of the island when the tides allow.

Festivals also abound on Achill Island. No matter what time of year you visit, you’re sure to find an event that’s just your speed. Visit the Achill Island site to learn more about year-round happenings.

 

 

 

Where to Eat

Start your day at The Beehive. Touted as a coffee and craft shop, you can get your caffeine and shopping fix in one location. Don’t miss their homemade dessert selection, a favorite of their customers!

No trip to Achill would be complete without a visit to a local pub. Try Amethyst Bar in Keel. It’s touted as a traditional Irish pub that features local fresh sea fare, including everything from cod, salmon, and prawns to fried chicken and delectable desserts. It’s a great family option for lunch or dinner.

The Valley House is another favorite. It is located in a historic home that is also a hostel. You’ll find seafood chowder, mussels and clams, and duck on their menu along with bar food staples, including burgers and fried cod.

3 Ireland Nature Trails to Try

 

Check out the natural beauty of Ireland on foot. These trail options offer something for everyone—from a family of beginners to more experienced hikers—and are located throughout the Emerald Isle.

 

 

Scalp Lookout Trail

BEST FOR: All ages and skill levels; short walks; amazing views of rock formations

You’ll find the Scalp Lookout Trail on the eastern side of Ireland in County Dublin. It is nestled in what is known as Barnaslingan—an arched rock formation. From this trail you can see into the “scalp,” a valley that was formed by a glacier thousands of years ago during the ice age. Wind your way through the pines before emerging to take in the captivating view of the valley. This is a particularly easy route for children and mature adults, as it features a walking path and is just shy of a mile in length.

 

 

 

Giant’s Causeway Trail

BEST FOR: Moderately difficult outings; breathing in the sea air; seeing history in nature

If you prefer a view of the sea, head to Giant’s Causeway in County Antrim for a nature trail filled with a mystifying arrangement of basalt rock pillars that were formed thousands of years ago. You can make this “trail” as long or short as you like. However, to truly see it all, you should plan to make a two-mile round trip hike from the visitor center down to what is known as the “organ,” a formation of the pillars that—you guessed it—looks like an organ. Note that this path does have some steep places where climbing or stepping up is required; the rocks can also be slippery. There is a shuttle bus from the visitor center that will take you to the start of the trail if you prefer not to walk the very steep portion from the center to the trail.

BONUS: Before you visit, read up on the legend of Finn Mac Cool that surrounds Giant’s Causeway.

 

 

 

Coomloughra Horseshoe Loop

BEST FOR: Experienced hikers who can spend several hours navigating the trail; amazing panoramic scenery

Views will abound if you’re up to the challenge of a longer (think 4-5 hours) and more strenuous hike. Located in County Kerry, the Coomloughra Horseshoe Loop tracks 10 miles of mountainous peaks in MacGillyCuddy’s Reeks. This is a mountain range that showcases some of Ireland’s highest peaks and delights hikers with unrivaled scenery. It even includes the highest peak, Carranuntoohil. With that being said, it’s not for novices and should not be accessed in icy or treacherous conditions.

Gifts for IRISH Dads & Grads

 

Two groups we love dearly—dads and grads—are being honored soon. While a handwritten note or card can express your feelings, we’ve also rounded up a few gifts to commemorate the occasion. Check out these six picks fit for the world’s best dad or your top of the class grad.

 

2018 Collector’s Coin

The year holds special significance for high school and college graduates; mark it with a collector’s coin they can cherish for a lifetime. Similarly, many men enjoy carrying a commemorative coin in the pocket as a daily reminder of significant events—or in this case their Irish heritage.

 

 

Shamrock Ballpoint Pen

 

 

They’ll know he’s an Irishman when he uses this pen to signed on the dotted line. This green pen, which features a shamrock, the Claddagh, and Celtic knot work symbols, is sure to make an autograph shine. Take it one step further by purchasing a coordinating notepad or journal and then writing dad a note to tell him what he means to you or giving the graduate a few words of inspiration for the path ahead.

 

 

Simple Shamrock Hat

 

 

Want an easy, laidback gift for both boy and girl graduates as well as all the fathers on your list? Get a baseball cap—a shamrock one to be specific. They can subtly sport Irish pride with this classic cap that’s sure to become a fast favorite for Saturday mornings or lazy days on the lake.

 

 

U.S. Military Celtic Cross

 

 

We’ve found the perfect gift for active or retired military who are of Irish descent. Maybe you know a graduate who is headed off to serve or your dad is among our country’s patriots, either way this simple yet meaningful cross will keep both you and Ireland close to his heart.

 

 

Personalized Stainless Knife

 

 

Personalized gifts convey an added layer of thoughtfulness. This classic silver pocketknife with both his name and a Celtic knot is a piece that is sure to be treasured for years to come.

 

 

Slate Trinity Plaque

 

 

Girl and boy graduates, as well as dads, are sure to love this unique trinity plaque that is set on slate. Dads will find the plaque a welcome addition to display Irish heritage in the office, while graduates can take a piece of heritage off to college (or a first apartment!) as a reminder of their roots.