Gifts O'Plenty for St. Patrick's Day

You get invited to an Irish friend's house for St. Patrick's Day, where you'll have an evening of traditional Irish fare. But you can't possibly show up with a case of green beer and a necklace of blinking shamrock beads. Some local Irish shop owners offer up their ideas for serious Irish gifts:

Dirt. Yes, that's right, dirt. It's actually from Ireland and it hasn't been allowed to leave the country until recently, according to Patricia O'Theobald, the new owner of Irish Walk in Alexandria. So for nearly $50 you get a Belleek bowl, a bag of Irish dirt and shamrock seeds. And when the shamrocks die off you still have the Irish pottery. Irish Walk is also starting to sell Finnian statues. The Irish figurine ranges from a small ornament for $4 to five-inch statues for $60.

An Irish host may also appreciate a shephard's pie in a ceramic pie dish that you leave with them to pass along to others. Irish Eyes in Fredericksburg has them for $15 to $30. Some have writing on them or Gaelic symbols and art. The store, which has been around for 24 years, also has shephard's pie mix for $3.99 that Holly Yascko, the store manager, says is so good it's even requested by her children. Irish Eyes also recommends Irish coffee mugs. The store has ones with intricate Gaelic artwork for $15 apiece to ones that have the recipe for Irish coffee printed on them for $25 to $35 for a set of six.

At Irish Collection in Occoquan and Middleburg, you can find a wide range of food straight from the Emerald Isle, everything from teas to chocolates. One of the most unique items is the Irish soda bread, which comes frozen or as a mix. The frozen bread is $4.95 and the mix is $4.50. Their sausage and bacon are a special Irish treat, tasting a bit different and thicker from our local stuff. A pound of Irish sausage is $6.95 and a pound of bacon is $5.95. The store also has black and white pudding for $3.95.

So what do you like to give your Irish friends on St. Patrick's Day? Where's your favorite place to shop for authentic Irish items?

By Tania Anderson |  March 12, 2009; 12:00 AM ET General Interest , Holidays and Special Occasions
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