What are the best Dublin souvenirs to bring home? Well, memories, first and foremost. But many people want memorabilia. A little piece of Dublin to take away with you, not just the impressions and images. And this is a thriving business, as the multitude of shops catering for the tourist will testify to, from the small stores, via the museum shops, to the souvenir emporia run by Carrolls Irish Gifts nearly everywhere. And the goods on offer are many – from cheap imported stuff to expensive wares. Facing the customer, the tourist, with that age-old question: what shall I buy, what will remind me of Dublin?
Well, here is a list of the best things you can get. The best Dublin souvenirs that money can buy. Some will last only a short while, others may well survive you. But in the end, they all will delight you. And not break the bank either.
01 of 11
The Doors of Dublin
The “Doors of Dublin” are an iconic image – they represent historic Georgian Dublin, and the whole city (though not all parts of Dublin still feature Georgian buildings). And a collection of them is a must to take away with you. The easiest way would be to go on long walks around the Georgian squares, and snap away at your heart’s delight. Half an hour of a leisurely stroll around Merrion Square or Fitzwilliam Square should fill up your memory card nicely. Or stroll into the nearest souvenir shop – you’ll find them as posters, postcards, fridge magnets … did I mention that they are an iconic Dublin image?
- Recommended for … anybody, really.
- Website: All You Need to Know About the Doors of Dublin
- Disadvantages? You might get hooked on photographing them and try to bag as many as possible … which may seriously eat into your Dublin time!
02 of 11
Butlers Chocolate Delights
If you have a sweet tooth, the best place to satisfy it in Dublin would be at Butlers – these “Purveyors of Happiness” will indeed do their best to elevate your mood. From the factory near the airport (which is actually open for tours) to their own chain of Butlers Chocolate Cafés. Of which you’ll find more than a dozen in Dublin. And as you get a free praline with every coffee, you might munch your way through quite a selection, before deciding which to take with you. Pick your favorites, or just grab a pre-packed box. And no need to carry it around with you all day: there are airside Butlers Chocolate Cafés in both terminals at Dublin Airport too.
- Recommended for … anybody who really enjoys chocolate.
- Website: the Homepage of Butlers Chocolates
- Disadvantages? Well, they may melt … and you may munch them much too fast once you get started.
03 of 11
The Book of Kells
Here’s the thing – if the Book of Kells is your thing, you will only see a small part of it anyway, and only for a comparatively short time. Really not enough to take in the marvel of the illuminated gospels, created in Scotland, but now kept in Trinity College Dublin. So why not take the Book of Kells home with you? This is easier than you might think (you can stop that “Mission Impossible” theme tune playing in your mind). The shop at Trinity’s Old Library offers everything you can think of regarding their most famous exhibit. From coffee mugs with selected images, via popular or scholarly works on the book, to complete facsimile editions of the whole Book of Kells.
- Recommended for … the book lover, and (amateur) mediaevalist.
- Website: The Book of Kells at Trinity College Dublin
- Disadvantages? None really, only any posters bought should be protected by a study cardboard tube.
04 of 11
Dublin Writers’ Books
Dublin is a city of writers, and a designated UNESCO City of Literature, part of the Creative Cities Network. Why? Well, think of all the Dublin writers – W.B. Yeats, George Bernard Shaw, Samuel Beckett, Nobel laureates all. And then those (at least by the Nobel committee) unsung heroes of Irish literature, like Brendan Behan, Bram Stoker, Rodd Doyle, Sheridan Le Fanu, Christy Brown. And the Big Dublin Daddy of them all, James Joyce, who in his “Dubliners” and “Ulysses” made the city immortal. So why not visit the Dublin Writers Museum, their excellent bookshop at the rear can be visited without paying the entrance fee. And has a selection that should satisfy most needs.
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- Recommended for … people who actually read, and are brave enough to tackle real literature.
- Website: All You Need to Know About the Dublin Writers Museum
- Disadvantages? Joyce and Beckett may leave you a bit puzzled, Stoker and Le Fanu a bit nervous, Behan a bit thirsty …
05 of 11
It is rare that a commercial product is as much identified with a city (and a whole country, come to that) as Guinness is today. The brewery even uses one of Ireland’s national symbols as a trademark, the harp, and the museum dedicated to “the black stuff” is Ireland’s most successful tourist attraction. Dublin without Guinness? Not only Brendan Behan would have shuddered at this thought. This makes anything branded with “Guinness” quite a good souvenir, though you’ll be a walking advertisement. Guinness goodies are available literally everywhere, but the best (and largest) selection can be found in the Guinness Storehouse itself. And you’ll be amazed at just how colorful and inventive the designers can get …
- Recommended for … anybody who like the Guinness brand, and does not mind showing this to the world.
- Website: All You Need to Know About the Guinness Storehouse
- Disadvantages? It is “Big Beer” advertising, after all, and not really that original … but at least it is a Dublin original.
06 of 11
A quick stroll through Dublin will quickly convince you that the most popular sports team in Ireland is … Manchester United. And every sports store offers branded items from the major English and Scottish clubs (Glasgow Rangers excepted). But the real heartbeat of Ireland skips to the ups and downs of the Gaelic games, football, hurling, and camogie. So why not get some Gaelic games team gear as a souvenir? It does not have to be the blue Dublin outfit, provincial club colours are on sale in the capital as well, with the shop at Croke Park carrying the best selection.
- Recommended for … sporty people, though the large-sized shirts will hide a modest beer belly quite well.
- Website: Elverys Superstore at Croke Park
- Disadvantages? As with every sports gear, the design changes on a regular basis, and you might be running around in yesterday’s clothing faster than you like. But then, who outside Ireland would notice?
07 of 11
Trinity College Treats
Remember when it was oh-so-hip to wear sweats that proclaimed you were at UCLA, Oxford, or Cambridge? If you still like the look, the Students Union at Trinity College Dublin can satisfy your every need. With a whole range of branded items. From sweatshirts to flannel pyjamas, from Harry-Potter-esque scarves to ties that tie you in with the old-boys-network. And mugs. And teddy bears. All with the Trinity College seal, or other appropriate imagery. While you might get cheap imitations elsewhere, these are the real thing. And you can claim “I went to Trinity College”. Who mentioned actually studying there?
- Recommended for … anyone, really, academic or not.
- Website: Homepage of the Trinity Gift Shop
- Disadvantages? None one can think of, though bluffing your way into a job by wearing a Trinity tie may backfire.
08 of 11
Molly Malone in Miniature
The most famous cleavage of Dublin, undoubtedly, belongs to the “Tart with the Cart”, the bronze depiction of fishmonger Molly Malone. A monument to Dublin folklore, with a monumental bosom, and a frilly blouse that shows off acres of it. Now the real Molly Malone may have looked very different, but the image has been imprinted upon a billion brains. And can be found on everything in any souvenir shop – from the ubiquitous fridge magnet to small replicas of the famous statue (or, at least, something very similar to it). And who would not immediately start to sing “In Dublin’s fair city …”?
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- Recommended for … those who cannot think about Dublin without thinking about sweet Molly Malone.
- Website: The Story of Molly Malone – a Dublin Song Icon
- Disadvantages? It is a cliché … and the depictions are more “music hall” than realistic.
09 of 11
Jameson Irish Whiskey
If you want to take some Irish whiskey as a souvenir with you, you cannot do worse than head for the Old Jameson Distillery in Smithfield. Just a short walk from Dublin’s city centre, and offering that special something other shops cannot – exclusive bottles that are only available from the Jameson company direct. Not cheap as chips, but a slightly more expensive way to get a bit of a buzz. These are whiskeys made to be enjoyed pure, not dumped unlovingly into a coke, or wasted in cocktails. Whiskey for the connoisseur. Which, frankly speaking, is the only whiskey worth buying as a souvenir … as alcohol prices in Ireland are high, and you might get most brands cheaper at home.
- Recommended for … those who really know how to enjoy their whiskey, not for the casual drinker.
- Website: The Jameson Irish Whiskey Website (for adults only)
- Disadvantages? They are heavy, they contain liquids – airlines frown upon whiskey bottles in your carry-on, and you need to protect them really well in checked... luggage.
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Wrights of Howth
These people do fish, nothing but fish, and they do it so well … that people want to take the fish home with them. Which, unless you live nearby, might be a bit of a problem. But trust Wrights of Howth to find a solution – and thus they can now provide hampers and smaller packs that will survive a transatlantic flight without any problems. The secret? You buy them at Dublin Airport, airside in both terminals at the Wrights shop. The store assistants are helpful and will advise you on the ins and outs of taking a smokes salmon on board.
- Recommended for … anybody who cannot face reintegrating back home without a dose of Irish salmon.
- Website: Shopping at Wrights of Howth
- Disadvantages? There are limits on how long salmon may stay fresh, so be careful. And it also helps to know the import regulations back home …
11 of 11
Mr. Tayto’s Finest
Tayto’s Crisps are as Dublin as coddle, as Irish as shamrock, as beloved as fish and chips for a snack. And the spud-man “Mr. Tayto” has become an Irish icon. With his image creeping up on everything. While the best variety of goods is sold at Tayto Park in County Meath, from car fresheners (not smelling of cheese and onion, one hastens to add) to toys, you’ll find Tayto crisps in any shop. Go on, you really want to take a few home …
- Recommended for … lovers of crisps, who brave (and crave) the unique cheese and onion rush.
- Website: The Tayto Homepage
- Disadvantages? Well, they are gone really fast, and they are highly breakable. But even if you flatten the pack in transit, you can still make a Tayto sandwich with them (yes, two pieces of buttered white bread with crushed Taytos as a filling).
Note that in the list above some “typically Irish” things are missing, like Waterford Crystal, or an Aran Sweater. Why? Because they are not souvenirs of Dublin. But you can get them in Dublin, if you want to. And if you need to make any last minute purchases, fret not – the “House of Ireland” has outlets at Dublin Airport, and a very good selection of souvenirs too.