Galway continually surprises visitors with the creativity and energy that comes hand in hand with its pride in the country’s identity and Irish traditions. This character is evident in the city’s shopping scene where artisanal food stores selling the local produce sit alongside independent galleries and outlets of small Irish chains. To find the best keepsakes while staying at Ashford Castle or The Lodge at Ashford Castle, seek out these exceptional shops in Galway, which all place the focus on provenance.
For Local Fare
Having been a mainstay in Galway for almost 100 years, the family-owned restaurant, deli and fine foods shop McCambridge’s is a favourite among local gastronomes. Here, the Food Hall is stuffed with artisan food products, specialty coffee and organic fruit and vegetables, with an excellent selection of wines and Irish whiskey, among other liqueurs, all of which have been handpicked. Having worked up an appetite in the fine food store, head upstairs to try some of what the chef has prepared using these ingredients.
Another of the most cherished artisanal food stores in Galway is Sheridans Cheesemongers. Situated on St Nicholas’s Church Square, the Galway store of this small chain displays shelves stacked with farmhouse cheeses, alongside charcuterie, olives and fresh organic produce. A wine shop and bar is conveniently situated right above the shop.
For the Home
While each store of the Irish chain Avoca overflows with artisanal food products, Irish-made fashion, coffee table books and covetable homewares, the stores are best known for their highly desirable throws, which have been made by Avoca since 1723. Originally a small family business, Avoca retains the same philosophies it had in the very beginning, and still produces hand-woven throws using natural fibres. They’re also still produced at the same mill they were first made in, in the small village of Avoca. The Galway store is situated outside the city, in the Connemara countryside.
Instead of browsing the clothes racks of high street chains, use your time in Galway to pick up items that are unique to the region. O’Maille, with the tagline ‘the original house of style’, has been selling homespun, hand-woven clothing since 1938. The founder Padraic O’Maille was the first Irish retailer to sell Aran sweaters, too, which he bought from the women who made them on the Aran Islands. And, when the filming for The Quiet Man famously took place at Ashford Castle in 1951, it was the O’Maille family who tailored many of the cast’s costumes. With the shop remaining in the family to this day, O’Maille continues to sell this uniquely Irish clothing.
Foxford Jewellery is another brilliant local company, run by a husband and wife team who have been making and selling jewellery for more than 45 years. Make the trip to this shop to pore over the captivating collection of gemstone rings.
Handicrafts and Artworks
Anyone on the hunt for local handicrafts should stop by Judy Green Pottery workshop and store, where each piece of earthenware is crafted and hand-painted in-house. Established back in 1982, the pottery studio is a well-established centre for this craft. River Art Supplies & Artisan Gallery, meanwhile, doesn’t just sell artist supplies (as its name might imply), but it also sells artworks. In fact, the shop is open to commissioning artworks of Irish scenes.
A multi-concept venue that’s garnered plenty of attention is Ard Bia at Nimmos. While Ard Bia is predominantly a restaurant – which mixes Scandinavian design with Moroccan influence – with creative proprietor AoibHeann McNamara at the helm, the venue is also an exhibition space for the arts. The on-site shop sells unique locally made dinnerware, along with the Ard Bia cookbook and printed cotton bags.
Back on the Estate
On the grounds of Ashford Castle, Mrs Tea’s Boutique sells a range of Irish clothing and knitwear, alongside golfing equipment – especially useful for those taking advantage of the castle’s nine-hole golf course – and a selection of souvenirs from Irish brands and the Red Carnation Hotel boutique, with the Castle Shop also selling a range of items such as tweed jackets and souvenirs. What better way to remember your time in the magnificent surroundings of Ashford Castle, than by taking a little piece of Ireland away with you?
Image credits: Cover photo of a mohair throw at Avoca © Avoca. A display within McCambridge’s © McCambridge’s. The interior of McCambridge’s © McCambridge’s. The Circus throw at Avoca © Avoca. Avoca’s throws on display in Connemara © Avoca. An O’Maille hat © O’Maille. An O’Maille Aran sweater © O’Maille. The entrance to Ashford Castle © Red Carnation Hotels.