Entire books have been written about the history and culture of Ireland and there might even be some tourists out there who hope to see something else other than redheads, pubs and leprechauns when once they step on Irish soil. Still, it’s inevitable to avoid national clichés and if you want to see them displayed beautifully on a shelf, the best place to go to is your average store. You will see shamrocks, belligerent leprechauns, “Kiss me I’m Irish” prints, gold pots, Guinness and a sea of green Irish t-shirts and tacky accessories. The average tourist is no doubt attracted by all these symbols, but any native Irish person or connoisseur will definitely roll eyes and marvel at the power of cultural stereotypes. Contrary to what many people think, wearing green Ireland t-shirts or a sexy pair of leprechaun years does not make you Irish – though it will not cause disapproving looks. While it may be true that there is a grain of truth in most of the common things associated with Irish culture, there is more to it than meets the eye. Tourists have it easy: they can find mainstream clothes to show their love very easily. However, those who want to wear what an actual native would wear find it harder to buy quality clothes. |
Plunging into the depths of Irish culture and symbolism is a wonderful experience. Once you learn about Tuath de Danaan, muir oigh, or the mythological fear dearg, the typical leprechaun with his chubby cheeks and pot of gold suddenly becomes limitative. The quality brands that manufacture truly genuine clothing pay attention to Irish lifestyle in all its complexity, not just the simplified versions that travel around the globe. Of course, some of these well-known symbols can be found on their creations as well, but they are usually conceptualised in a different way and given a more original twist. The colour schemes include other options other than the same variations of green and you will be surprised to discover that some T-shirts actually send quite a profound message, as they refer to important historical events, sad legends and nostalgic songs.
Around St. Patrick’s Day, which is celebrated from Ireland to the smallest semi-Irish pub in Western Europe, fast-fashion retail stores put forward an avalanche of typical apparel and clichés reach an all-time high. If you want an alternative from green shamrock mugs and “Shipping Down to Boston”, browsing the virtual shelves of an original Irish store will definitely be a breath of fresh air. You can find less-known Irish symbols, creative designs that combine vintage prints with modern cuts and, most importantly, clothes that actually have a story behind it and are not the outcome of consumerism. For a beginner, some of them might seem strangely intriguing and send an invitation to discover the less known side of Ireland. Therefore, if you’re looking for a T-shirt with personality and that truly represents the beautiful Irish values that deserve attention, definitely say goodbye to mainstream stores and discover the clothes offered by small, independent, web-based brands.
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