Irish Cultural Artifacts

Ireland is a country rich in heritage and culture, and is well known for its Celtic history, music, and time-honored clothing. From aran sweaters to claddagh rings, many of the patterns and designs used in traditional Irish clothing and jewelry have hidden symbolism and can be traced to intriguing Irish stories and legends.

In this info-graphic you will learn about the origins of some of the most well-known Irish clothing artifacts, how they were made in the past, and how these traditional crafts continue to this very day. The origins of Irish claddagh rings and tin whistles are also explored.

Here’s a wonderful informational graphic from Murphy of Ireland, illustrating the origins of these Irish cultural treasures……

Image Credit

Slán agus beannacht leat

(Goodbye and blessings)

Irish American Mom


Disclaimer:  Irish American Mom does not have any business relationship with Murphy of Ireland. I really liked this info-graphic and the information it portrays, so I decided to share it with readers. I do not have an affiliate contract with this company. I hope you enjoy this image as much as I do, and thanks to Murphy of Ireland for creating it and promoting Irish crafts and small businesses.

Five Irish Craft Makers To Watch Plus A $100 Shopping Spree Giveaway From USofIreland

In Ireland something of a mini revolution is taking place. The creative and design industry is beginning to find a growing audience of buyers looking for something different outside of the obvious.

Being Irish means something, especially to anyone who has a cultural connection to Ireland. It’s a sense of ancestry and home, even if you have never visited the country – you can still feel it.


So it’s understandable that this is reflected in the types of Irish products that sell the most. However, there is also a different Ireland.  The influence our creativity has had on popular culture cannot be diminished.

  • Think of writers like Oscar Wilde, George Bernard Shaw, James Joyce, Brendan Behan & Frank McCourt;
  • Musicians like Luke Kelly, Van Morrison, Christy Moore & Phil Lynott;
  • Actors like Maureen O’Hara, Liam Neeson, Pierce Brosnan, Daniel Day-Lewis & Richard Harris.

All of these people, and so many more were, and are, blessed with creativity.

From the ancient etchings of the Ogham language to intricate modern carvings of wood furniture – creativity is unmistakably an Irish trait. It’s in our blood.



Introducing USofIreland:


USofIreland is a website that brings together independent makers across the island of Ireland under one roof, and offers these makers and artists a platform to showcase and sell their products to a wider audience outside of Ireland.

Their aim as makers living and working in Ireland today, is to show our cousins around the world that we more than hold our own in the creativity stakes. Don’t rule us out!

We have picked out 5 makers on our website we believe are very much ‘Ones To Watch’.

Whilst it does feel slightly like choosing a favorite child, every maker on the website has their own story to tell. Here are just 5 we picked:


John Nolan


Preoccupied with color, John Nolan is an artist based in Dublin. His exuberant style combines bold outlines with bright exotic shades. His interpretation of various motifs transmits a positive upbeat feeling to his viewers. His motifs include Fish, Flowers, People, Birds, Still Life, Abstract, Collage & Landscapes.

By John Nolan

By John Nolan

Tracy Gilbert


Tracy is immensely proud of being Irish and is fluent in her native Irish language. Her aim is to intertwine this pride with imagination to create beautiful jewelry designs that reflect Ireland artistic and mythological heritage. Clever design, quality materials and craftsmanship are the cornerstones of Tracy’s creations.

By Tracy Gilbert

By Tracy Gilbert

Siobhain Steele


Siobhain designs and makes a range of ceramic vases, bottles and giftware, which are carefully hand decorated to evoke a sense of simplicity and serenity. Inspired by the abstract line and patterns found in the lush natural landscape surrounding her studio in Rathcormac, Co Cork.


By Siobhain Steele

Conor Lynch


Teenager Conor Lynch is a woodturner based in rural Co Offaly. He started woodturning at the age of eleven after seeing a demonstration. After turning twelve, he bought a lathe with his confirmation money. Largely self-taught, he is now considered one of Irelands emerging makers working in turned wood.

By Conor Lynch

By Conor Lynch

Scribble & Stone


Scribble & Stone is a contemporary and unique Irish fashion label based in Dublin. The “Scribble” in the title refers to their love of illustration and to the quirky graphics and scribbles across tags and packaging. The “stone” refers to gemstones which are an important component in many of their pieces. This combination creates truly unique fusion jewelry pieces.

By Scribble Stone

By Scribble Stone


The Giveaway:


James Galvin, the Chairman and Co-Founder of USofIreland, has generously donated a $100 shopping spree on their wonderful website, for one of Irish American Mom’s readers.  And so, in essence you can pick your own prize. The winner will be free to spend $100 on the item or items of their choosing from the vast array of unique and beautiful works of art available from USofIreland.

To enter our giveaway just click here. The terms and conditions are outline on the entry form

The competition is open until midnight October 31st, 2014. 

A winner will be chosen randomly and notified by e-mail.

Best of luck to all our entrants and a big thank you to USofIreland for sponsoring this fantastic prize for Irish American Mom’s readers.


The Winner:

November 2nd, 2014 – I’m delighted to announce we have a winner. Susan from Virginia is the lucky recipient of a $100 gift voucher to spend on beautiful Irish crafts. Susan, I hope you get some lovely gifts for Christmas for your friends and family, or why not spoil yourself and buy something special just for you.

And thanks to everyone for supporting this little giveaway. And of course, a big thank you to USofIreland for sponsoring this wonderful prize.


Slán agus beannacht leat!

(Goodbye and blessings)


Irish American Mom


Disclosure of Material Connection: Irish American Mom does not have any business relationship with USofIreland and did not receive cash payment for publishing this guest post.  The purpose of this giveaway is to help spread the word about Irish artists. Thank you to all who support Irish and Irish American crafts people and their wonderful enterprises.

Oreo – Our Soccer Loving Border Collie

I love border collies. Their intensity, energy, loyalty and intelligence simply amazes me. In a previous post I introduced my love of these amazing canine companions, but I have failed to update everyone on how our very own border collie puppy, Oreo has become a really important part of our family.

Border Collie - Panting

And here she is!  All grown up!


Puppy Toilet Paper Trouble

Do I remember those puppy days?

Remember? Will I ever forget?

She was into everything.

Nothing was off limits.


Border Collie Puppy - Toilet Paper Play

But who could be mad at such a contrite cutie?


Soccer Agility - Border Collie

Whenever you hear tell a border collie has energy,

whatever you may imagine that energizer level might be,

just double it in your mind.

Hey, go ahead and triple it.

If a border collie is not kept busy, mischief is in store.


Border Collie Makes a Save

But lucky for us we soon discovered our dog LOVES soccer.

She’s the best goalie in our house!


Soccer dribble border collie style

She dribbles!


Border Collie Soccer Header

She’s great at headers.


Border Collie Scores A Goal

She even scores!

Call me a crazy dog mom, but I believe she understands the concept of goals.


Border Collie Cool Down

And after the game, a good old cool down is in order.


Border Collie Eyes

 What do you mean star soccer players can’t nap on the couch?????


Border Collie On The Couch

Don’t worry! I wasn’t napping.

I’ve been herding flies just for you.


Hope everyone enjoys the finals of the World Cup today. I’m not sure if Oreo will be shouting for Argentina or Germany. May the best team win.


Slán agus beannacht leat!

(Goodbye and blessings)


Irish American Mom


The Tara Brooch

The Tara Brooch is an elaborate piece of ancient Irish jewelry dating back to around 700 AD. It is on display in the National Museum of Ireland.

Composed mostly of silver and embellished with delicate, interlacing, gold, filigree patterns, it is widely recognized as a symbol of Ireland.

Tara Brooch

Image Credit

Celtic brooches are available from many fine jewelers and Irish gift shops throughout the world, with craftsmen finding inspiration from the original Tara brooch. Today I thought I would explain the history behind this wonderful Celtic piece.

Discovered in 1850, this legendary brooch was created for a medieval chieftain to balance his seamless cloak on his manly shoulders.  The weapon-like long pin of the brooch was strong enough to bore through layers of rough cloth. The high quality of workmanship reinforced this chieftain’s head of clan status.

The original brooch is said to have been found by a poor Irish woman in August 1850 on the beach at Bettystown, County Meath. She supposedly claimed she found it in a box buried in the sand. An ancient wooden box surviving under shifting sands for centuries may seem like a tall story. Many believe the woman found the box inland, but moved it to the beach to avoid ownership claims by the land holder.

Another version of the story claims the beautiful piece was found by two little boys playing on Bettystown beach. Their mother brought it to an iron dealer, who wasn’t even slightly tempted to purchase it.  She proceeded to a watchmaker who purchased the ancient brooch for the vast sum of eighteen pence. I wonder if she ever realized how little she was paid for her find.  The watchmaker used his skills to clean up the piece, and then traveled to Dublin where he hoped to find a buyer.  Waterhouse Jewellers paid him twelve pounds for the pin.

Tara Brooch Fabric From Fraser Street Fabric

Tara Brooch Fabric From Fraser Street Fabric

Image Credit


Although named after the famous seat of the Irish High Kings, the brooch actually has no true connection to the Hill of Tara. George Waterhouse, a creator of Celtic revival jewelry, hoped the name would appeal to women, stimulating a demand for replicas of the intricately ornate brooch. His marketing ploy worked, and to this very day this famous piece of jewelry inspires craftsmen throughout the world.

Although originally a masculine design, the Tara Brooch was quickly favored by Irish women.  In the early years of the 20th century feather boas and furs were the fashion choice of New York and London ladies.  Irish women, however, preferred to pin their serge suits with intricate brooches encrusted with precious stones, inspired by Celtic myth and the Tara Brooch.  Even Queen Victoria herself sent orders for the precious pin to be sent to Windsor Castle for her personal inspection.

Inghiniidhe na hEireann (The Daughters of Ireland) chose a Tara Brooch as a membership symbol. To them it represented a purely Irish identity, so they proudly donned their badge of choice.  In 1914 they merged with Cumann na mBan, and their Tara Brooch symbol was replaced by a more militant emblem of a rifle entwined with the letters ‘CnamB’. Perhaps they failed to recognize the more subtle insignia of the brooch, evocative of a medieval sword.

National Museum of Ireland – Home of the Tara Brooch

Image Credit

In the 1870’s the brooch was acquired by what now is The National Museum of Ireland, and there it remains on display, for all the world to see.  Whether found on the beach, the famous Hill of Tara or under some stone wall, by an old woman or her two boys, the Irish people are eternally grateful for the discovery of this national treasure.

And finally a few words of advice for anyone thinking there may be more brooches and ancient jewels just waiting to be found on the Emerald Isle. Metal detecting is illegal in Ireland. This step was taken to preserve Ireland’s historical heritage, and to ensure only those with archaeological expertise and an appropriate license excavate our ancient sites.

And so, when you wear a Celtic brooch,  wear it confidently and with pride. Your taste in fashion and style would be pleasing to Ireland’s ancient warrior kings.



Slán agus beannacht leat!

(Goodbye and blessings)

Irish American Mom


How To Make A St. Brigid’s Cross Using Pipe Cleaners

On St. Brigid’s Day in Ireland it is customary to make reed crosses named after the saint. But, if like me, you live in the city, it is not easy to find an abundant supply of reeds.  In America, reeds and rushes don’t grow as prolifically as in the wet soil of my homeland.

St. Brigid's Crosses Made With Reeds

Image Credit

Determined to mark this day by making some crosses with my kids, I decided pipe cleaners would be the best solution. ‘Chenille stem’ seems to be the new name for this trusted craft supply. Add a little glitter and a good old pipe cleaner is transformed into a chenille stem.

Pipe Cleaner For A St. Brigid's Cross

To make your cross you will need 18 or 22 stems, depending on how big you’d like to make the center square of your cross.

Steps To Make A St. Brigid's Cross

Lay one stem straight and bend all others, except one, in half. Cut the last one in four equal pieces for binding the ends of each arm of the cross.

Step 1: Loop one bent stem around the center of the vertical stem, pointing the ends to the right.

Step 2: Loop the next bent stem around the first arm, pointing upwards.

Step 3:  The next bent stem is looped around the upward arm, pointing to the left.

Step 4:  The final arm is created by pointing a bent stem downwards around the left arm.

Repeat these four steps 3 or 4 times to expand your cross, starting each round on the right and underneath the arm.

Securing the last stem of a St. Brigid's Cross

The final stem must be secured.  Pull the last loop of the right arm back a little, and slot the last stem downwards and through this hole. Re-tighten each loop.

Securing the ends of a St Brigid's Cross with pipe cleaners

Secure the end of each arm using a small piece of pipe cleaner.

Chenille Stem St. Brigid's Cross

And there you have it, a St. Brigid’s Cross made with pipe cleaners, even if it’s a little more glittery than the saint’s original.

Glittery St. Brigid's Crosses

We got a little carried away this morning, making big ones and small ones, multicolored and glittery crosses. But let’s face it. St. Brigid loved a good party, so I think she would approve of a little sparkle.

Happy St. Brigid’s Day to all.

Slán agus beannacht leat!

(Goodbye and blessings)


Irish American Mom

P.S. Thanks to Maureen at “Make Time For Nature” for her lovely photo of St. Brigid’s crosses made with reeds.