When it comes to shopping, Dublin can rival all other major European capital cities. Picking up traditional souvenirs certainly won’t pose any problems, but the real retail thrill for discerning shoppers comes in seeking out the myriad independent stores for which Dublin is becoming increasingly known.
Dublin's independent shops offer visitors the opportunity to pick up something different, artisan, creative and, more often than not, sustainable. From eclectic homewares to artisan perfumeries, here are ten of the best bricks-and-mortar destinations where one-of-a-kind pieces await.
L. Mulligan Whiskey Shop
13 Clarendon Street, Dublin 2
You don’t have to be a spirits aficionado to savour a trip to this liquor store, based in the historic Powerscourt Townhouse Centre. The helpful staff can point you in the right direction of a moreish whiskey, whether of the Irish, Scottish or world variety, to suit your taste. There’s also a good selection of other Irish spirits available, including gins as well as rare and collectable bottles. The store’s spirits curator, Michael Foggarty, suggests investing in a bottle of DWD (Dublin Whiskey Distillers) Whiskey. He says: “The distillery closed in 1941 but the brand was resurrected in 2017. For people picking up a bottle of whiskey we recommend this, as you're getting a great whiskey and a great piece of Dublin whiskey history. At €50 per bottle it is great value also.”
Arran Street East
1 Little Green Street, Dublin 7
Functionality and simplicity are at the heart of Arran Street East’s design philosophy. The brand creates beautiful hand-thrown pottery in its studio. Sustainability is important here and, where possible, packaging and materials are sustainably sourced and environmentally friendly. After visiting the shop, a visit to the Arran Street East cafe beckons, where locally made pastries from Opera Patisserie and coffee from Dublin roasters TwoFifty Square are served using vessels made upstairs, overlooking the Victorian Dublin Fruit and Vegetable Market.
One of their bestsellers is 'The Mug' but for Arran Street East’s Alex Calder, 'The Jug' is her personal pick. “It’s so elegant and a beautiful statement piece. If it's a little big to take home a pair of Mugs or a Pourer are a lovely souvenir.”
April and the Bear
2 Wynnefield Road, Rathmines, Dublin 6
At this lifestyle and interiors shop in Rathmines, you’re as likely to find beautiful mid-century furniture as you are a cat snow globe or a print of Jeff Goldblum. As well as providing plenty of interiors inspiration, it’s a fabulous place to pick up unusual gifts such as designer Eily O’Connell’s jewellery range which is cast from crab claws collected from the west coast of Ireland.
One of founder Siobhan Lam’s favourite interior trends for 2019 is plants, but this doesn’t have to mean buying a forest of succulents. Instead, you can introduce some botanical wallpaper or hang a stunning leafy print. “It’s an invigorating and fun trend and one I’ll be 100% embracing this year,” Siobhan says.
Irish Design Shop
41 Drury Street, Dublin 2
Clare Grennan and Laura Caffrey, both jewellers, have been championing Irish makers and designers since 2008, when they set up shop on Drury Street. The Irish Design Shop's wares include whiskey tumblers, hand-blown in Waterford (a county synonymous with Irish glass), which are expertly cut by Criostal na Rinne, in a choice of designs by artist Mary Callaghan, who is constantly inspired by her West Cork coastline.
Clare and Laura’s own contemporary jewellery range is expertly crafted using traditional techniques in-house, and visitors can even see them at work at the bench. “Ireland has its own distinct craft identity. Intrinsically linked to the landscape, we have a tradition of creating objects, largely for everyday use, which reference our natural surroundings, be that in the colours, textures or materials used,” Clare says.
5 Smock Alley Court, Essex Street West, Dublin 8
Tucked away in a corner of Temple Bar, Scout offers a range of highly curated goods that you won’t find anywhere else in the city. Owner Wendy Crawford has a keen eye when it comes to clever design and some of the Irish and international brands carried include chunky traditional knits from the Original Aran Company and the sandals brand loved by the Instagram style set, Salt-Water. Scout will also sate your homeware desires – check out Saturday Workshop's wooden pig serving platter and distinctive handmade candles from Beeswax Candle Makers.
According to Scout’s Zara Hedderman, a steadfast favourite amongst locals and travellers alike is a McNutt blanket, woven in a Donegal-based mill. “With an array of designs and colours to choose from, inspired by the Irish landscape, these blankets are guaranteed to provide a lifetime of comfort and style,” she says.
25 Westbury Mall, Dublin 2
In the market for a rare and beautiful scent? Niche perfume shop Parfumarija has you covered. Proprietor Marija Aslimoska is a classically trained perfumer who learned her craft in Grasse, the fragrance capital of the world. The store looks like an apothecary and smells like heaven. You'll discover scents by Frederic Malle, the master French perfumer, as well as Eight & Bob.
For the curious, stylish traveller, Marija recommends the Amouage travel set, available for both men and women. “With its magnetic closing and 12 samples of some of the most beautiful fragrances created in Oman, this is a real treasure find,” Marija says. “An extra special tip is to use only one sample at each new place so that the memory of the new place is then forever locked with that smell.”
32 Clarendon Street, Dublin 2
An urban, city centre oasis, Appassionata Flowers' philosophy is that flowers enhance our surroundings through sight and smell. Ruth Monahan and Ultan Devaney set up the business in 2004, and it has gone from strength to strength – even creating flower arrangements for both Barack Obama and the Queen on their visits to Dublin. The store uses flowers that are cultivated in a sustainable way, arriving daily by ferry, meaning no air delivery carbon emissions.
As well as beautiful blooms, the store stocks terrariums and vessels and one gorgeous element to take home is the Appassionata No. 1 Candle, designed to make you feel as if you are holding a bouquet on a West of Ireland beach. “Another idea is a lovely dried flower bouquet of Irish wildflowers packed nicely in a box by us,” says Ruth, and adds, “The airports will let you take flowers and plants through security but it is worth checking out the customs of the destination country you are travelling to as they all differ in their approach to bringing in perishable or fresh produce.”
Powerscourt Townhouse, South William Street, Dublin 2
The former Lord Powerscourt's dressing room in Powerscourt Town Centre is the perfect setting for interiors emporium Article. Take time to admire the original plasterwork here, dating from 1780, while perusing the stock which includes Irish woollen throws and ostrich feather dusters, as well as tableware that will give dinner parties the wow factor. Decorative and functional products from Irish and international designers fill the shelves and it’s also a superb place to pick up prints such as typographic maps of Ireland. If your luggage is already bursting at the seams, owner John Adams suggest: “We have some lovely linen covered A6 notebooks that are hand-bound in Dublin and cost €9.95,” he says. “They are not fragile, so easy to transport, useful and will remind you of Dublin whenever you use it.”
13 Fade Street, Dublin 3
Art and lifestyle store Hen’s Teeth is situated on Fade Street. As the name suggests, the wares here are not easy to come by and include limited edition prints, homewares, a selection of coffee-table books and t-shirts. There’s always something happening at Hen’s Teeth. “Our approach to what we do, from curating exhibitions to working with some of the most exciting artists on the planet, is to not alienate anybody. Keith Haring is a big inspiration, and I think that comes across in what we do. We love that our customers and people that visit our exhibitions range from young teenagers to the over-70s,” says Hen’s Teeth co-founder Rosie Gogan Keogh.
Rosie’s top recommendations to pick up in store include Denise Nestor’s Bestiary series, a range of pencil illustrations of mythical Irish beasts, and the ever-expanding range of limited edition Hen’s Teeth apparel and gifts.
Jam Art Factory
14 Crown Alley, Temple Bar, Dublin 2; 64/65 Patrick Street, Dublin 8
Art and design shop Jam Art Factory has two locations: one in Temple Bar and the other on Patrick Street in the Liberties. Both shops showcase Irish contemporary art and handpicked artists, stocking prints, street art, ceramics, textiles and jewellery. Must-buys here include Pat Byrne’s printed antique book pages and Dublin illustrator Tara O’Brien’s work depicting dancing and laughing women, with a political subtext.
Jam Art Factory’s Ruth Keating says that Dublin’s vibrancy is legendary, and that “taking home a piece of graphic art from Jam Art Factory is a great way to step inside the art scene at its freshest. It's also nice to know that you are helping a burgeoning illustrator to keep the dream alive.” She recommends Dublin artist Maxi’s print, Meet Me Under Clery's Clock. Ruth explains. “Clery's Clock is positioned high on our main thoroughfare O'Connell St; it has been a popular meeting place for decades. Many the tryst began with a promise to meet under the clock, and it is still considered one of Dublin's most romantic locations, for those who remember.”