While we’re here, by the way, it’s worth noting that if you come from outside the EU and are leaving Ireland without plans to return to the EU inside a year, you are entitled to recover your VAT (retail tax) on most things that you might be taking home with you under the ‘Retail Export Scheme’. The process for doing so is run by both larger stores and tax agents, and you can learn about it here.
Jam Art Factory
Specialised in local artists, Jam Art Factory takes many of the icons of Dublin and reflects them in gorgeous, varied artwork that will always remind you of any trip to the city. From the iconic twin towers of Poolbeg that mark the mouth of the Liffey, to wooden replicas of the city’s famous Georgian doors, it’s all here. You can never be completely sure what you’ll stumble upon here, but they love pop art, suit every budget, and are nothing if not creative. One to explore.
14 Crown Alley, Temple Bar, Dublin 2, Ireland. +353 16165671
The Powerscourt Centre
A spot often overlooked by tourists but well-known to locals, this central boutique shopping centre is the place to go high-end in the city. Powerscourt features things like the Design Centre (a local designer showcase), This Is Knit (a high-end stop off for those who like producing their own woolen wear), and Article (a quirky, playful home decor store). There’s also an abundance of antique and jewelry stores, making up 40 shops in total, many of which are great for less conventional, and, admittedly, more expensive, take-home shopping. Powerscourt is also a great place to hang out, with both the slightly hipster bar Pygmalion and the light, airy central coffee shop great places to catch up.
59 South William Street, Dublin 2, Ireland. +353 16794144
Carroll’s Irish Gifts
At the complete opposite end of the scale of The Powerscourt Centre, the fast-growing tourist emporium Carroll’s, of which there are dozens of outlets, is the place to grab your Irish cliches by the dozen. Get your leprechaun outfits, faux ‘national’ rugby shirts, penny whistles, postcards, thrown-together trad albums, and whiskey-infused chocolate here. Wade through the socks with soft-toy sheep woven into the design, and stereotype-infused joke images, though, and most will find something in these bargain basement stop offs that will always bring back Ireland, whether it’s a pub pic, a sliotar (hurling ball), or something with Guinness printed all over it. Does it impress? Not overly. Should you go there anyway? Probably.
58 O’Connell Street Upper, Dublin 1, Ireland. +353 18735709
An oddly placed urban square a 15-minute walk from central Grafton Street, Newmarket is very much on the working class side of Dublin, and currently, the subject of a heated debate about whether it’s development – which could be highly profitable – might destroy its character. It’s currently home to some of the best little-visited shopping in the city, however, especially at weekends, when the Green Door Market and Dublin Food Co-Op come to life with expansive, themed street markets. Perhaps counter-intuitively, Sunday is the best day to grab local designs, clever furniture adaptations, artwork, and little bits of local history. The Teelings Distillery – located between the two market buildings – is a great stop off, too.
A high-end, locally-focused department store, Kilkenny Design does all sorts: clothes, books, pottery, chocolate and whiskey, scents infused from Irish seaweed, and signs produced from dried out peat. In short, the owners take the best local designers in all categories they can dig out, put them all in beautiful displays under one roof, and foster a reputation as the go-to Dublin spot for those who like originality and have a little bit of cash to splash. We particularly like the locally-themed motivational posters, and a stop off on the second floor, where you can grab some great quick-fire Irish cuisine.
6 Nassau Street, Dublin 2, Ireland. +353 16777066
The Celtic Whiskey Shop
If you visit this popular spot on Dawson Street on a day when the staff is feeling particularly outgoing, you might find yourself indulging in whatever the current Irish tipple of choice is before you even exit the Celtic Whiskey Shop. There’s plenty to explore here, including the legalized Irish moonshine ‘poitin’, but the ‘uisce beatha’ (water of life) is their staple, and you’ll find everything here from tiny county-themed souvenir bottles to aged specials priced at thousands of Euros a pop. If you know your whiskey, describe your style and they’ll hook you up with the perfect match. If not, you’re in the right place for a lesson. Note that due to strict licensing laws, this store is not open as many hours as conventional Dublin shops.
27-28 Dawson Street, Dublin 2, Ireland. +353 6759744