From cool boutiques to stylish interiors stores, great grocers and quirky bookshops, Ireland is home to a host of small but mighty independent shops. Here, our writers share their favourites around the country
You can’t miss Marrowbone Books. This bright, yellow shopfront sticks out like a cool thumb among the other terraces of The Coombe, its window stacked with themed titles. Inside, the shelves are stocked to the gills with second-hand books, the excess in piles on top of the bookcases.
You wouldn’t want to be looking for something specific, but the friendly staff behind the counter can always point you in the right direction. With the armchairs, rugs and plants inside, it feels more like the sitting room of your most bookish friend.
78 The Coombe, Dublin 8; marrowbone.ie
If you know someone in Ireland with a cool pair of glasses, there’s every chance they came from Optica. The experts inside this chic shop know everything there is to know about glasses, and can help guide you toward a shape and colour that will perfectly complement your style. The shop’s own range of frames (Wolfhound) is dreamy, with shades of contrasting blush and fern or matte coal, inspired by the Irish palette. Since Covid, visits are by appointment only, which means you get a dedicated service when you’re in, so you can experiment and get outside of your comfort zone. With Deirdre at your side, you won’t leave looking anything less than fabulous. 6 Dawson Street, Dublin; opticadublin.com
Nikki Creedon’s boutique is out on its own, a stylish Aladdin’s cave of covetable fashion-forward designer brands, from Comme des Garçons and The Vampire’s Wife to Emilia Wickstead. She buys with a keen eye, and the new label this season, Borgo de Nor, has dresses with a 24/7 charm. The Irish knitwear offering is very strong, with Colin Burke’s ode to contemporary Aran stitchery and Lucy Downes’ luxe Sphere One cashmeres. Nikki will kit you out in Rick Owens and Golden Goose sneakers and send you home smelling divine in Timothy Han.
2 Anglesea House, Donnybrook Road, Dublin 4; havanaboutique.ie
A treasure-trove for every bookworm and music fan, Bell Book and Candle looks like the work of a hoarder with impeccable taste. It has a great collection of old albums, and every conceivable surface in this shop is piled high with books, comics and magazines to instantly bring you back to the days of Bunty and Beano. There’s vinyl, kids’ books, DVDs and even the body of a car. Have a root through the 50c box and you’ll leave with a handful of books you never knew you needed.
Sea Road, The Claddagh, Galway; @bellbookcandlegalway
Pretty much every cult Irish foodstuff can be found on the shelves of Kate’s Kitchen. From Abernethy black garlic butter to White Mausu peanut rayu, this shop is a foodie’s paradise. They also make a lot of stuff in-house, like punchy onion pickle and jams as well as ready-made meals. But the little beauty section is a dream, with loads of products from Neom and local brand Voya — the gift wrapping is also top-notch, so it’s the perfect place to pick up a last-minute present. There’s a café at the front of the store, where you can sit with a flat white and a homemade sausage roll and watch the world go by.
3 Castle Street, Sligo; kateskitchen.ie
Like a turquoise beacon with its vivid exterior paintwork, this luxury boutique calls to you as you pass by. Founder Sarah Gill is respected in retail for her signature style, and she now has two stores on either side of the capital. Seagreen has a reputation for its refined boho aesthetic, and its casual offering is very strong, with Anine Bing, Iro, Rag & Bone and Paige jeans, as well as Veja vegan leather trainers. You’ll also find lovely dressy pieces from Vanessa Seward and earrings by Maria Black.
Monkstown Crescent, Co Dublin; seagreen.com
In business since 1982, Peter and Mary Ward’s Country Choice was ahead of its time, and sometimes it seems as if the rest of the country is only catching up now. The combination of coffee shop, delicatessen and food shop is a delight, and the offering includes everything from organic fruit and vegetables from local growers to wines from small producers and the best of Irish artisan produce, including the family’s own Nutshed nut butters. Country Choice is never more a place of pilgrimage than it is in the run-up to Christmas, when the Wards stock an unparalleled array of dried fruits for seasonal baking.
25 Kenyon Street, Nenagh, Co Tipperary and Limerick Milk Market; countrychoice.ie
If you’re on the lookout for a first edition or a signed book, this is the place to go. It has a huge range of rare and unusual books at decent prices, as well as titles with fine bindings. Incidentally, bookbinding and repairs are offered in-store, too. It specialises in Irish titles, with a huge collection for you to peruse, and leather armchairs where you can plop yourself down for a minute. Though, maybe don’t do that with a priceless first edition…
Bridge St, Carrick-on-Shannon, Co Leitrim; trinityreadings.wordpress.com
This little corner of Dublin is a bit of a hipster magnet, and Hen’s Teeth most definitely plays a part in drawing in the cool crowd. This space is part gallery, part shop and part café, and it’s filled with all the things that you might not necessarily need, but that you unquestionably want. There are cool homewares like brightly coloured vases and Mexican blankets, alongside hipster booze and small-batch chocolate bars. The homemade ice-cream is excellent, with flavours like basil and caramelised white chocolate. It also does a boozy slushy on sunny days — think sake watermelon and violet.
Blackpitts, Dublin 8; hensteethstore.com
Head-turningly gorgeous, this vintage lingerie shop is a lovely asset to a historic street in the Liberties, otherwise filled with antique furniture stores and curios shops. Cosy and full of colour, it will instantly raise your spirits as you browse the new lingerie and vintage fancies. Cuteness includes nightwear, loungewear and the very popular London lingerie brand What Katie Did. In the spirit of conscious and considered shopping, owner Kiki Forrester will happily reserve an item for a week with no obligation to purchase. Her new pieces are ethically made and inclusive, going up to a size 26. The shop is open from Tuesday through to Saturday.
88 Francis Street, Dublin 8; spaceoutsister.com
Whatever obscure herbs and spices you need to source for that Ottolenghi-esque spread you have planned, you’ll find them at Mr Bell’s Global Food Emporium in Cork’s English Market. The shop stocks all the ingredients you never knew that you wanted and now absolutely must have. Sauces and condiments, different types of rice and noodles, and at least a dozen different types of pepper — whatever cuisine you are attempting, you’ll find everything you need at Mr Bell’s. Thankfully, the online shop is open for those of us who don’t live in Cork.
English Market, Cork City; mrbells.ie
When it comes to sustainably made furniture, you really can’t beat tables that are created from fallen trees. At Treehouse Design Furniture, all of the tables are constructed using trees that have either fallen victim to a storm, like giant beech and sycamores taken down by Storm Ellen, for example, or have fallen due to natural causes. From a base in the Georgian Ballyfinboy House in Co Tipperary, each piece is hand-finished to bring out the natural grain and form of the wood. Oh, and they replant hundreds of trees themselves, some even grown from windfall acorns. The showroom is open by appointment only.
Ballyfinboy House, Ballinderry, Co Tipperary; treehousedesignfurniture.com
Just down the road from the Cliff House Hotel, Ardmore Pottery and Gallery has been on the go for 40 years, selling its own range of pottery as well as pieces made exclusively by Irish artists. Its traditional pottery is just the kind of stuff you want to see when you’re by the sea, with delicate shades of blue sponged on to glorious white clay. In the shop, you’ll also find pieces like modern charm necklaces from Vivien Walsh and handwoven tweed throws made in Ardara.
Cliff Road, Ardmore, Co Waterford; ardmorepottery.com
This indie boutique, founded by Kate O’Dwyer and Louise Flanagan, is a pilgrimage point for so many high-fashion fiends. Most definitely a destination store, it’s the perfect place to shop for a big occasion, stocking everything from elaborate ball gowns to casual cashmeres, with shoes and earrings too. The romantic dresses from Sara Battaglia and Hayley Menzies’ co-ords are big attractions, along with satin bags from the wonderful Irish brand August.
Main Street, Naas, Co Kildare; emporiumkalu.com
Sometimes even the finest cashmere still has a bit of an itchy feel to it. Not so at Co Clare knitwear studio and shop Ekotree, where the beanies, scarves and snoods are so soft, you’ll want to pick them up and rub them on your face like you’re in a fabric-softener commercial. Everything is laid out like an Instagram flat lay, in pleasing shades like pastel pink, slate grey and burnt orange. The studio and shop is in Doolin, not too far from the Cliffs of Moher, so you can pop in for something to keep you cosy when you’re out stomping around the Burren.
Ballyvoe, Doolin, Co Clare; ekotreeknitwear.store
Open only from Friday to Sunday, The Fermentary is a joint venture between Seamus Jordan and Jenna Black of Plúr Bakery (if the name is familiar, that’s because it was their sourdough breads and pastries that had everyone queuing outside Allta’s lockdown shop on Saturday mornings) and James and Janine Ludlow, fermentation meisters. Get there early if you want coffee and still-warm baked goods, and stock up on kombucha on tap, plus kefir, krauts and koji while you’re at it, to foster all that good gut bacteria.
Woodview, Main Street, Borris, Co Carlow; thefermentary.ie
The perfect place to find a hand-thrown Provençal pot, a beautifully distressed cabinet or time-worn Moroccan bowl, Joy Thorpe Antiques is a very personal edit of her best-loved finds from all over the world, in particular, Marrakesh. Everything is unique — once gone, irreplaceable — making each antique quite the find. Pieces are staged in pretty vignettes around the shop, often featuring her resident pooch Earl “always on one of the most expensive chairs”. “I love the excitement of hunting for new pieces, the freedom to curate what I want and the community of people I meet through owning an independent store.”
The Commercial Establishment, Kilkenny Street, Castlecomer, Co Kilkenny; joythropeantiques.com
An impeccable curation of stylish, understated clothing from global brands like Toast and Sideline as well as McNutt throws, Coolree candle holders, Gemma Koomen greeting cards, Dalkey Handmade Soaps and accessories by Fog Linen makes this lifestyle boutique a firm favourite. The rest is down to the artfully cool interior, and owner Wendy Crawford’s passion for pattern and colour, and her savvy eye, which manages to make tasteful smellies and stationery the perfect companion to stylish slippers and vintage serveware.
5 Essex Street W, Temple Bar, Dublin 8; scoutdublin.com
Setting up a business in a recession in a remote part of the country is no mean feat, especially one that’s main premise was sustainability when, at the time, it wasn’t even a buzz word. Thirteen years later, Ohh! by Gum is a fully fledged sustainable lifestyle store in the pretty town of Clifden, selling all sorts of ‘eco-chic’ for women and children, from clothing and skincare to homewares and gifts. “Independent stores are the heart of communities and we have always aspired to create a place where people can experience the best products locally that are available internationally.”
The Courtyard Station House, Clifden, Co Galway; ohhbygum.ie
Right at the precipice of Mayo’s wild coastline, this community-run book shop is a wholesome little slice of social wellness. It sells a mishmash of new and second-hand books, with an excellent kids’ section to boot. The staff are voracious readers, so you can always be sure of a decent recommendation, and there’s the odd pop-up shop in the atrium, too. There’s also a co-working office space, which you can book by the day.
Bridge Street, Louisburgh, Co Mayo; booksatone.ie
Donegal native Des Gallen returned home to transform a handsome building on the quays of Lough Swilly into this artisan food store and café with apartments above. Having cooked food you want to eat at Dublin’s late lamented Gruel (lil’ sister to The Mermaid Café) and served cheese you want to buy at Temple Bar’s Saturday Market (Silke Cropp’s Corleggy range), Des has a keen eye for sourcing great ingredients and a natural flair for simple food served beautifully. Treats include Cloud Picker coffee, Leamhain non-dairy ice-cream sandwiches, Broughgammon rose veal pepperoni and superlative cheeses.
The Quay, Rossreagh, Ramelton, Co Donegal; @thebluegoatramelton
Clodagh Shorten’s expert eye is legendary, so it’s no surprise that people travel from all around the country to tap into her fashion nous. This store works across the spectrum, from luxe casual wardrobe pieces including Isabel Marant and Sofie D’Hoore, to dressier summer items like Saloni, Dries Van Noten and Roksanda. The store is very well curated, with lots of lovely treats, like shoes, fragrances and candles. It’s also located just around the corner from the Crawford Art Gallery, so you can get a culture and fashion fix all in one go.
17 Drawbridge Street, Cork; samuicork.com
If you’re spending a hefty wad of cash on outdoor gear, you want to make sure the people you’re buying from really know their stuff. And that’s exactly what you’ll get at Call of the Wild, where the staff can pick out exactly what you need from the shelves, whether it’s a waterproof jacket or the best head torch for spelunking. As you might expect from an outdoor shop based in Sligo, the selection of surf gear and watersport kit is extensive, with wetsuits, booties and changing robes.
9 Castle Street, Sligo; callofthewild.ie
Made using recycled products, hand-operated machines and a hefty dash of style, the notebooks made here are so cool, you might actually get around to writing that novel. Their landscape-covered books are particularly lovely, with images of moody Irish seas and derelict buildings. The shop has a huge range on Friar Street, so you can get a feel for them, and you can get them customised in-store, too.
1 Friar Street, Cork; badlymadebooks.com
If you need just one reason to visit Triggerfish, it could be to buy one of its legendary Japanese folded Damascus steel-blade knives. But there are many more. If cooking and kitchenware is your thing, or you just need to replace that tired tagine, you’ll find an incredibly comprehensive range sourced from all over the world. There’s French linen tea towels, cast iron and copperware, steamers, woks, every type of baking tin, olivewood accessories, enamelware, Italian coffee makers and a seriously impressive knife collection. Keep an eye out for the monthly window displays, which are often the talk of the town.
2b Main Street, Blackrock, Co Dublin; triggerfishcookshop.ie
This cult concept store in West Cork, brimming with kitschy and colourful homewares, makes you feel as though you’re wandering around your eccentric Aunt Betty’s living room, albeit a tasteful one. Owners Claire and Tom’s passion for interiors and attention to quirky details is evident — this is the antithesis to homogeneous high-street stores, with one-off pieces you’re unlikely to find anywhere else, whether that’s a tropical tree frog vase, a heron wall light or a brass tide clock.
Gortroe, Connonagh, Co Cork; oldmillstores.ie
As Westend Galway as it gets, Ernie’s is where to go for a bag of dulse or the latest Irish-made cult condiment. It’s an old-school green grocer where you might pick up new-season spuds or Irish chanterelle, nashi pears or Worcestershire damsons, and a double magnum of rosé while you’re at it — somewhere that obscure dietary needs are served with a side of local gossip. The eponymous Ernie Deacy is the stuff of legends, aided ably by his daughter Anne Marie and son Ernie Jnr. A national treasure of a local siopa, and all Galway’s own.
Sea Road, Galway City; @ernies_shop
Known locally as Cozzy’s, this fine food store has been a part of the Sligo landscape since 1898. Considering its diminutive size (more than two shoppers and you’ve got yourself a crowd), it’s stocked with everything you could possibly need in the pantry, from duck confit to their own ready-made pizza dough. The olive, cheese and meat counter is particularly special, and they can whip you up a platter of charcuterie in the blink of an eye. If you’re looking for an obscure ingredient (here’s looking at you, white balsamic vinegar), there’s every chance they’ve got it on their overstuffed shelves.
32 Market Street, Sligo; cosgroveandson.ie
Housed in a former convent school and hospital, this destination concept store in Enniscorthy has breathed fresh, Scandi-style air into the building’s dusty bones with a bustling café and lofty designer lifestyle store that riffs on modern rustic meets Nordic design. There are nods to crafts with locally made ceramics and jewellery, artwork and furniture, plus eclectic pieces from around the globe, all with a handmade and traditional craftsmanship bent. It’s the sort of place you’d happily go out of your way to find and it’s almost impossible to leave empty-handed.
23 Weafer St, Enniscorthy, Co Wexford; thewilds.ie
Most Irish people love a good rummage, and saving things from the skip is how Ray and his partner Catia started their shop, Rummage. Their speciality is repurposing old furniture and household items. Just like a good jumble-sale rummage, you’ll never know what you’ll find, which is half the joy. From teapots and radios to upcycled furniture, books and collectibles, it’s an Aladdin’s cave of eclectic finds, all with a vintage schew. “I love seeing people come in and find things that remind them of their childhoods. It’s nice to be part of that story and repurpose something old.” Go rummage.
Knights Court, Castle St, Cloonbrackna, Co Roscommon; @rummageroscommon
Limerick’s Milk Market has to be one of the finest in the country, and a prime example of what we should have in each and every city. Re:Story opened there in December 2020, and its owner, Fionán Coughlan, wanted to honour the heritage of the market, selling things that would have traditionally been sold, like sheepskin and leather. “When you step into the Milk Market, you’re stepping into history, and I wanted to reflect that,” he says. Fionán makes and upcycles furniture, with pieces like coffee tables, chairs and desks, as well as spotlights made from spray-paint cans and shelves that were formerly wine boxes.
2 Cornmarket Row, Limerick; @re_story_limerick
Capel Street is one of the best food streets in the city, with a brilliantly diverse range of restaurants and food shops, offering a selection you won’t find anywhere else. The window of Ayla is crammed with trays of pastries — flatbreads, borek, pide and baklava — made in-house, that savvy hosts know can be relied upon to get them out of a pickle when they’ve over-extended themselves on the hospitality front. At the back, you’ll find a proper Turkish deli, with good feta, halva and olives, and much more besides.
30 Capel Street, Dublin 1; ayla.ie
If it’s vintage bridal and occasionwear you crave, this gem of a store is totally worth a trip to Monaghan town. The founder sisters, Caroline Quinn and Kathy Sherry, work by appointment only, and a trip inside is like walking into a time capsule of the most amazing fashion throughout the decades. It’s no wonder TV shows like Call The Midwife rely on the sisters for authentic costumes. The jewellery and accessories offering is very strong, and recent drops include pieces from the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.
40/41 Glaslough St, Monaghan; dirtyfabulous.com
Denim aficionados will no doubt appreciate this extremely cool men’s fashion and lifestyle shop. Set up last year by Declan McGowan, the very moreish stock includes jeans that are tough to find, like the Levi’s Made & Crafted 80s 501s in Japanese denim. Other covetable brands include the Spanish Edmmond Studios, the Japanese Taion and the home-grown Ilk. There are Yogi shoes and cool sneakers from brands like Shoes Like Pottery, Diadora and Saucony. You won’t want to leave without tasting the Barn Berlin coffee.
The Cornmarket, Middle Street, Galway city; kindfolkgalway.ie
Carlow-born Mark Murphy is a blow-in to Dingle but has made himself essential to the gastronomic fabric of the town as a founder of the annual Dingle Food Festival, co-owner of Dingle Cookery School (don’t miss the Catch & Cook experience) and owner of The Little Cheese Shop, which he took over from former cheesemaker Maya Binder in 2018 and has run in fine style ever since. A small but mighty cheesemongers, specialising in Irish cheese (with local treats such as Dingle Goats Cheese, Knockatee’s Kerry Blue and Kells Bay’s Dilliskus) and a smart webshop with great gift options.
Grey’s Lane, Dingle, Co Kerry; thelittlecheeseshop.ie
How can you not fall in love with a book shop that has its own resident dog? Majo (also known as #BookshopDog) rules the roost at Banner Books, where the shelves are packed with new and second-hand titles, with a strong focus on new Irish authors. The shop also plays a part in the Ennistymon Book Town Festival, where booksellers from all around the country come together for pop-up shops, talks and book signings.
3 The Square, Ennistymon, Co Clare; bannerbooks.ie
You’ll know the McNally name from the reverential citations on the menus of the best restaurants in Dublin, and perhaps from its market stalls in Temple Bar, Glasnevin and Naomh Olaf. But you’d be missing out if you didn’t make the trip out to the farm shop in Balrickard at least once in a while. You can pre-order your vegetables and eggs for collection, and also pick up flowers, fruit from David Llewellyn, olive oil and Broughgammon meats. But go hungry and you can feast on Sarah McNally’s brilliant salads, sandwiches and flatbreads, and perfect homemade cakes with good coffee. Be warned, though, things have a habit of selling out, so plan on getting there early.
Balrickard, North Co Dublin; mcnallyfamilyfarm.ie
Do you ever see an old piece of furniture in a charity shop and think about how beautiful it would be if only you had the skills to jazz it up? Well, at Revive, they do all the hard work for you. They find the finest pieces of furniture, then restore and refurbish them before selling them in the shop, where you can also find ceramics and smaller bits of homeware alongside things like re-upholstered wingback chairs and old cinema seats.
Market Square, Dunfanaghy, Co Donegal; revivedunfanaghy.ie
Got an obscure Mexican ingredient to source? Or a question about it? Looking to learn authentic recipes from a Mexican teacher who knows her tortillas (coming from a long line of bakers by trade)? Behind one of Dublin’s best-dressed shop windows, Portobello’s Picado Mexican is a one-stop retail space and demo kitchen with an excellent webshop. A food blogger turned grocer turned cookbook author (Nigella is a fan), Lily Ramirez-Foran is a force of nature, and her Irish husband, Alan Foran, is a steadfast support in her mission to bring a true taste of home to her new home.
44A Richmond Street, Dublin 2; picadomexican.com
Located on a small street to the right of Belfast City Hall, you could easily spend an hour here just pouring over the pieces on the shelves before you ever hit the changing rooms. The stylish owner, Ruth Spence, stocks some fantastic brands, like Dries Van Noten, Daniela Gregis, Guidi, Chez Vidalenc, Everyday Luxury, Album di Famiglia and Marsèll. If you love black and white, and strong architectural and textural brands like Comme Des Garçons and Simone Rocha, you will be in seventh heaven.
4 Wellington Street, Belfast; envoyofbelfast.com
All is clean and bright in this 2,000 sq ft sustainable sanctuary on Sarsfield Street, Limerick, where oak-panelled display units house streamlined collections of organic healthcare products and eco-friendly independent brands. Stock up on Kinvara skincare, browse through the collection of self-care books, douse yourself in essential oils and pick up eco pantry and cleaning supplies. The added bonus of an in-store café means you can linger a while in the space between and enjoy the pace.
4 Sarsfield St, Co Limerick; duoireland.com
Wonderfully eclectic, a rummage around this 25,000 sq ft shop will unearth some vintage treasures. The owners describe themselves as ‘purveyors of the unusual’, so expect to find a taxidermied buffalo, Indian travelling organ and an Edwardian cheese carriage alongside Belfast sinks, 18th-century oil paintings and antique furniture. Everything is laid out in room sets to help inspire you, and the displays are ever-changing. There’s also a small café at its heart, where you can sit and ponder your wares over tea and cake.
Kea-Lew Business & Retail Park, Portlaoise, Co Laois; thestoreyard.ie
There’s always something appealing about a book shop where titles aren’t just filling the shelves, but stacked into topsy-turvy piles on any available floor space. Walking the aisles of the Last Bookshop feels a little like playing Buckaroo (or Bookaroo, perhaps?), where any misstep will lead to a clattering fall of books. This is the kind of place where you’ll want to browse for hours, following your nose until you leave with a stack of books in your arms. Even better, you can head out the back door and find yourself at the Cake Café, where you can sit down for a read with a wedge of sponge cake and a cup of tea.
61 Camden Street Lower, Dublin; last-bookshop.business.site
It’s said that there isn’t a musician in Ireland who doesn’t know Owen McQuail, the owner of the guitar shop Some Neck. From its newish location on Dean Street, it sells largely rare and vintage guitars, as well as all the other kit you’d need. Previous shoppers have included Bon Jovi, The Eagles and Simple Minds, as well as Villagers and Gavin James. The experts in store know their guitars inside out, and they’ve even designed their own, with the Poolbeg Chimneys embossed on the neck, crafted from pearls and red jasper stone. The shop also has a workshop, where repairs and restoration work are carried out.
4 Dean Street, Dublin; someneckguitars.com
Cork has no shortage of craft shops worth their salt, and Forest & Flock has elbowed its way in with aplomb since its inception as a 30-day pop-up store in 2017. Working in harmony with nature underlies much of what Forest & Flock is about, choosing unique and personal items from a melting pot of fresh, home-grown talent, like West Cork Pottery, Little Red Skincare and Felt Fauna by AC. “Non-fussy, honest and authentic,” is how co-owner Bernie O’Sullivan describes their style. “You can’t beat unique and personal style — this is what I constantly seek.”
10 New St, Town Lots, Bantry, Co Cork; forestandflock.ie
Roundwood got even more charming with this new grocers meets café, deli and bakery. Enter its cheerful archway into the pretty stone-walled courtyard with welcoming tables and bright cushions, and veg stalls featuring exemplary Irish growers like Dermot Carey, and on into an Aladdin’s cave grocers. A deli counter serves imaginative salads, meaty sausage rolls, hearty soups, barista coffees and wholesome cakes. Owned by Simon Pratt (ex-Avoca) and chef Monique McQuaid, and run by her son, Jake McCarthy — it makes sense that he cooked at Forest Avenue, given that his sourdough is some of the best going.
Main Street, Roundwood, Co Wicklow; @roundwoodstores
“Our ambition is to create a considered store filled with products that make you smile.” Siobhan Lam’s chic and colourful living emporium will certainly have you beaming, right from the candy-coloured façade to the two-tone pink walls dotted with bright and bold prints. What started eight years ago as an online-only concept business has evolved into an interior design studio and lifestyle store, selling everything from candles and cushions to mugs and mirrors, and they are passionate about finding you that perfect gift for your mother-in-law or the right shade of ochre for your bedroom curtains.
213 Rathmines Rd Lower, Rathmines, Dublin; aprilandthebear.com
Self-described as ‘Dublin’s favourite health food hangout’, with a dedicated in-store space for educational talks and workshops plus weekend events that have previously included foraging walks, The Hopsack is one of Ireland’s longest-running and best-respected health stores. It keeps evolving with new ways to engage with its community — through podcasts and blog posts, a free phone line established during lockdown for sound health advice from experienced staff, an online store and a range of some 5,000 products that include fresh foods and supplements, natural remedies, zero-waste products, natural skincare and menstruation ranges.
Swan Shopping Centre, Rathmines, Dublin 6; thehopsack.ie
MacBees started with Mary McBride, whose daughter, Aoife, is now heading the team alongside the eagle-eyed Doranne Hickey. The sum total is a very savvy buy of disparate international contemporary luxury women’s brands. Expect to see pieces by Baum und Pferdgarten, Psophia, Munthe, Roisin Linnane, Essentiel Antwerp and Stine Goya alongside scarves from Debbie Millington and jewellery from Vivien Walsh. People always comment on the colour they’re met with when entering the shop, and they have a profound sense of sharing “the joy of dressing” with their customers.
26 Main Street, Killarney, Co Kerry; macbees.ie
With retro pictures on the walls, gilded antique mirrors and armoires draped in pearls, this shop is exactly the kind of place you want to shop for vintage. Open since 2009, Love Vintage is run by the owner, Carolanne, an expert in all things retro. But it’s not just vintage you’ll find in store — there are also new, ethically made pieces as well as jewellery. The kimono section is particularly special, as is their silky loungewear, and there’s also a kids’ section with retro-inspired wind-up toys.
Market Street, Clifden, Co Galway; lovevintage.ie
Having established a fine network of food producers and importers, growers and farmers for home-delivery service weekl.ie during lockdown, Chris Chapman has grown this second phase of his business just off Harold’s Cross bridge — a multi-use warehouse space that is a well-stocked specialist grocers, an event space for chef-led workshops, pop-ups and parties, and a meet-up hub with great coffee plus café menus showcasing highlights from the shelves, like Grace’s organic eggs and McCarthy’s pudding. Others include McLoughlin’s dry-aged beef, Rings organic chicken and Vera Foods’ new La Curiosa conservas range.
Greenmount Industrial Estate, Dublin 12; warehousefoodmarket.ie
Wink and Elbow is how your home would look if you had your life together. There are sleek placemats, brass salad tongs and kitchen-roll stands that would make any kitchen look cool. As well as home furnishings, the shop has a great selection of quirky light fixtures, self-care bits and statement jewellery from Deeca Design. It also has a great kids’ section and it’s the perfect place to pick up a gift for a new baby.
26 Lower Main Street, Dungarvan, Co Waterford; winkandelbow.ie
“We sell stories, not products”. Everything in Lisa Connolly’s carefully curated shop has earned its spot, and often has a story to tell. Lisa’s background in fashion and textiles has given her an eye for design and brands that box clever. Being an independent store, it can adapt quickly to suit customers’ needs, which explains the savvy mix of products, from books and bags for kids to homewares and sustainable offerings. “I couldn’t be without my Sticky Lemon backpacks. They fit so much inside and the colours are just perfection.”
1 Little Patrick St, Waterford; finderskeepersthestore.ie
A chef-led grocery store and fishmongers from Karl Whelan (exec-chef at Hang Dai) and Niall Sabongi (The Salty Buoy, Klaw, The Seafood Café, Sustainable Seafood Ireland wholesalers) with one of Ireland’s broadest, freshest seafood selections, from its glistening fish counter and dry-ageing fridge to its well-stocked wine shelves, top-class fruit and veg (from Dublin-grown kalettes to Italian-snuffled truffles) and pantry stars like Forum’s single-varietal wine vinegars, or all you’d need for that Thai curry. Add communal tables, rotisserie grill and raw bar with tasting menus and chef collabs, plus crab workshops and wine tastings.
97 Terenure Road East, Terenure, Dublin 6W; saltwatergrocery.ie
Respect to the Maktus team, Dublin’s indie gift store on a mission to give us a giggle while providing sustainable employment to Dublin-based artists and designers through their in-house studio. “Not only will our products make any Irish person laugh, our souvenirs and gifts are created in the hope of saving tourists the indignity of leaving our shores with a stuffed leprechaun or a woolly sheep.” Word. They supplement the Irish gifts with cleverly curated bits and bobs from elsewhere. Expect the silly (boob bowl) to the sublime (copper head massager) to the downright practical (Big Bag of Cans tote).
George’s Street Arcade, Dublin 2; maktus.com
Sisters Patricia and Catherine believe everyday items should be enhanced by great design, and their shop has become one of Belfast’s top spots for interior scourers. “We are continually trying to source new brands and have products in store that we genuinely love.” As well as bigger names like Hay, &Tradition and Ferm Living, there are brilliant Irish makers in the mix, too, such as Annadale, Mourne Textiles and Superfolk. “If we couldn’t have them in our own homes, they won’t be in Maven.”
Reid Memorial Hall, 4a Maryville Ave, Belfast, Co Antrim; wearemaven.co.uk
A move up the village into smart new premises opposite The Triangle has brought a new energy to the Village Butcher, where Michael Madden, Sarah Kelly, daughter Jessica and the rest of the team play a collective blinder, day in, day out. They make their own delicious sausages and burgers, stock the finest free-range pork, organic chickens and heritage beef, including Dexter and Belted Galloway, and will butcher whatever obscure cut you want to order. There’s also a brilliant range of condiments, including Chimac’s Sriracha Caramel Sauce and Builin Blasta’s Smoked Onion Mayonnaise, both of which have a cult following. Nationwide delivery is now available.
44/46 Ranelagh, Dublin 6; thevillagebutcher.ie
With what could well be one of the best shop names ever, Granny’s Bottom Drawer stocks the kind of bits you wish you actually found at your grandma’s house. Think super-soft cashmere scarves, giant herringbone throws and speckled stoneware, with cute baby blankets, too. This is the place where you’ll find all the best Irish fabrics under one roof, from wraps made of super-soft linen to cushions spun from merino tweed.
53 Main Street, Kinsale, Co Cork; grannysbottomdrawer.com
Bold and beautifully crafted, Sarah O’Dea’s lamps walk the line between tradition and off-beat, combining various fabrics like tweed, linen, silk and cotton with brazed frames bound and lined by hand. There’s a nod to 1980s fringe empire shades as well as simple silk classics in vibrant colours, and all are hand-stitched in their Dublin-based studio. Sarah is Ireland’s only handmade lampshade maker. “I’m a little nuts about design and very passionate about what we make.”
114 Terenure Rd N, Terenure, Dublin 6W, Co Dublin; shadyandthelamp.ie
There’s a bit of a rabbit’s warren vibe to Coffeewerk + Press. When you walk in, you’ll find a small coffee shop, with jazzy flat whites and drip brews. But there are two other floors upstairs, with a design shop on one and a gallery on the other. In the design store, vinyl from a hefty stash plays on the record player, both of which belonged to the owner Dan’s grandfather. Around the room, shelves have delicate displays of cool, artsy bits, like exquisite hand-turned wooden bowls, brass candlesticks and Japanese porcelain plates. Upstairs, the gallery showcases work from artists and photographers, with loads of affordable prints, too.
4 Quay Street, Galway City; coffeewerkandpress.com
With friendly young staff happy to guide you through the shelves of unfamiliar packages and a range that runs the gamut of Asian ingredients from Thai to Chinese to Korean, the family-owned Oriental Emporium is now in the hands of a new generation. In business for more than 30 years, the Rathmines shop has always been a go-to for those seeking authentic ingredients, and those just starting to explore new cuisines will find great advice in a non-intimidating environment.
101 Rathmines Road Lower, Dublin 6; orientalemporium.ie
The resident cat Jess is often found strolling around Urban Plant Life, sunning herself on the roof of the greenhouse or ambling between the fiddle leaf figs. But feline staff aside, the humans here really know their stuff, and can guide even the most brown-thumbed plant owner into keeping their flowers alive. The indoor plant range is fantastic, as is the bonsai and succulent room, which is filled with giant cacti and Venus fly traps. The fact that it’s found right in the middle of Dublin is a huge bonus for city dwellers without cars.
110-111 Cork Street, Dublin; plantlife.ie
Every detail, down to the window displays, feels considered in Ally Murphy’s colourful interiors shop in Westport town. It is immediately apparent that unique interiors is a passion, with an ever-changing inventory of décor jewels. The old-world feeling is evoked by a smattering of antiques, including a dining table artfully arranged with beautiful tableware, quirky candlesticks and hand-painted earthenware pitchers. On the walls hang botanical prints, and upstairs is a living-cum-bedroom curated with beautiful Irish textiles and one-of-a-kind furniture pieces.
Shop Street, Westport, Co Mayo; townhousewestport.ie
There are loads of covetable bits in this shop, from textured scarves made from alpaca wool or soft merino stoles. But the standout items are the beautiful wall hangings, made with vibrant colours and inspired by the shapes and forms of the Dingle Peninsula. You’ll also find pottery made by Lisbeth’s husband, Louis Mulcahy, as well as other pieces from Irish designers, like fishermen jumpers and handcrafted geometric jewellery.
Green Street, Dingle, Co Kerry; lisbethmulcahy.com
Now in the hands of a third generation of owners, Sweeney’s D3 — formerly known as Lilac Wines — was revamped a few years back and has turned into a little gem. As well as wine, there’s a huge selection of craft beers from independents, a small edit of food essentials (chocolate and good tinned fish) and a seating area where you can order Upside coffees, pastries and toasties from Greenville Deli that, as Michelin might say, are worthy of a diversion. Make ours a three-cheese and maple ham please.
117 Philipsburgh Ave, Fairview, Dublin 3; sweeneysd3.ie
Though it started life as a book and music shop (and they still sell books in the Lavitts Quay store) Vibes and Scribes is now the go-to haunt for all things craft related. If there’s a kind of wool or yarn you’re after that you can’t find in this shop, it quite possibly doesn’t exist. There are also loads of fabrics for quilting or dressmaking, as well as art supplies like canvases, paints and brushes. Basically, if there’s a craft project you have in mind, it has what you need.
3 Bridge Street, Cork; vibesandscribes.ie
Every great neighbourhood deserves a great wine shop, and thankfully many have been following the lead of Gerard Maguire and his peers as they steadfastly test the boundaries of what a wine shop can be. At 64 Wine, under the guidance of Gerard (himself a winemaker at Les Deux Cols) and co-owner Anthony Robineau (ex-Ely), that means a café and wine bar, too, with plenty by the glass, a gourmet food store, a webshop with nationwide delivery (free locally) and a beacon of community spirit (they recently raised €27,000 for Unicef Ireland’s Ukraine funds). More of this, please.
64 Glasthule Road, Glasthule, Co Dublin, 64wine.ie
This music shop has long been a supporter of home-grown talent (since it opened its doors in 1996, in fact). It is rare in that it doesn’t just stock old vinyl and records, but has a constant drip of new releases, too. It’s got a huge back catalogue of music and a decent second-hand section to boot. It also has a good few rare numbers in stock, and sells tickets for gigs both locally and all around the country — sometimes there’s even an in-store gig, too.
6 Lesley House, Foyle Street, Derry; cooldiscsmusic.com
Sister and brother Claire and Chris Arnold opened their lovely little grocer’s shop toward the end of November 2020 and have gone from strength to strength, expanding their range each week. As well as everything you’d want to find in a local shop — the organic eggs, the good bread, the morning pastries — there is a brilliant selection of mainly natural and low-intervention wines, plus cheese, charcuterie, condiments, excellent pasta and much more. And if you’re very lucky, you may just happen to be in the shop on a day when a delivery of the siblings’ mother Maria’s lemon curd has arrived. Snap it up.
38 Lennox Street, Dublin 8; lennoxstreet.ie
More often than not, a shop is made great not by what it stocks, but by the people behind the counter. At Roundstone Musical Instruments, Malachy Kearns is one of those charming characters who makes you want to stick around for hours. A full-time bodhrán maker, he’ll demonstrate how the bodhrán is made and how it’s played in a shop with many of them stacked high. There are other trad instruments for sale, and a nice picnic area outside, too.
IDA Craft Centre, Roundstone, Co Galway; bodhran.com
Whether you’re an experienced runner or you’re cautiously about to try it for the first time, the team in Runzone will be able to kit you out with exactly what you need. Any podiatrist will drill into you just how important it is to choose the proper running shoes, and in this shop, you’ll be able to get the full gait analysis to determine your stride pattern and arch requirements. It also stocks all the other kit you’ll need, as well as jazzy new accessories like wearable tech and massage guns.
27/29 Orwell Road, Rathgar, Dublin; runzone.ie
It’s not exactly under the radar, but since it opened in 2016, Stable of Ireland has hugely expanded its offering. While it once focused on dreamily soft herringbone scarves and blankets (still a favourite), it now stocks a great variety of homeware and fashion pieces, like Scandi-chic wooden stools and cable-knit sweaters. As a champion of heritage fabrics, its linens are particularly lust-worthy, with napkins in muted, natural shades and a swim bag designed for storing your bits while you jump in the sea.
2 Westbury Mall, Balfe Street, Dublin; stableofireland.com
Ruth Healy’s shop is much more than a food shop — it is a proper culinary emporium, stocking everything from kitchenware to cookbooks to natural beauty products to wines and, yes, food with hot drinks and light meals are also available. If you follow Urru on social media, you’ll be familiar with the regular postings of Good Food News chalked on a board in-store. Urru’s place is at the very heart of the Bandon community.
McSwiney Square, Bandon, Co Cork; urru.ie
One of the first natural wine bars in Ireland, The Gallery may not look like a shop at first glance. But look closer and you’ll see that the stacks of books on the shelves and the vinyl by the record player are all for sale. This collection is the work of owner Tom, a DJ and photographer who has curated the stash over the years. After you shop, you can sit and have a read with a glass of wine and an ethical charcuterie board, with free-range Irish meats and cheeses.
9 Brewery Place, Westport, Co Mayo; thegallerywestport.com
Ostensibly a natural health food store, Nuts & Grains has been on the go since 1985 and is now a one-stop shop for all things virtuous. There’s a range of pantry staples as well as superfoods and herbal supplements, but it also stocks fresh organic produce and sourdough bread. Its range of natural beauty products is top-notch, with brands like Kinvara and the excellent Dr Hauschka on the shelves. The interior was designed by Aoife Rattigan, with bespoke handcrafted displays.
Chapter House, Friars Mill Road, Mullingar, Co Westmeath; nutsandgrains.ie