Dec 11, 2013

Review: My Ireland Box

I was recently introduced to a new Irish company that incorporates two of my favorite things – Irish crafts and care packages. I loved the idea even before the chocolate biscuit cake met my lips. Even more (about 350 calories more) after. My Ireland Box is a monthly subscription service that delivers carefully picked, and packaged, Irish crafts to your door. It's kind of like an Irish gifting fairy—with great taste and magic connections to Irish makers and shakers—who makes you look really good ... because she actually goes to the post office.

Subscriptions are available in three, six, or twelve month packages, or you can just opt for a once-off package when needed. There's even a mini monthly subscription if you'd like to send a smaller somethin'-somethin' to a friend/family member/yourself every month. It's an excellent gift idea, especially if you are in a last-minute pinch; an e-card will notify your recipient of their pending gift. Each package includes a selection of up to four Irish made goodies—jewelry, home goods, beauty products, food, etc.—along with a little information about the Irish businesses featured in the package. It's a great way to introduce someone to contemporary Irish design.

My experience
I don't usually accept freebies here on the auld blog, simply because the web is like one big product placement these days. I prefer to feature Irish goodies I've come across independently so that I have no strings attached. All that said, I accepted the kind offer of a sample monthly package from My Ireland Box because curiosity got the best of me and I wanted to experience the service firsthand. Curated gift boxes are a growing trend/business—I've featured Birchbox, Barkbox, ByBrooklyn, and Golden Tote as a shopping columnist—and I was delighted to hear of an Irish-themed one. Delighted and hopeful that the package would deliver some authentic Irishness. 
Honestly, my first reaction was a little hesitant when I unwrapped the shamrock mug. Yes, it's Irish made (by ShannonBridge Pottery) and a lovely cup but it immediately got my Irish up, in the wrong way. I have a little bit of an Irish pottery habit (it gets its own suitcase when I travel home), so I immediately found myself wishing they'd chosen something less cliche-Irish from ShannonBridge or another Irish pottery company. Also found myself wondering if, perhaps, I am not the demographic the company is targeting. It'll make a good gift for my great-aunt.

Moving on, I loved the handknit mug warmer from Little Buttons and Bows. Loved that it was handknit in Wexford by Anne Molloy and that the cute little wood button was made by Molloy's woodturner husband. Minor gripe – sorry!— but it seems a wasted opportunity that the warmer is too big for the aforementioned cup. Fits my other mugs fine though, and you can't beat a little something handknit. Also loved the chocolate biscuit cake bar from Foods of Athenry. Inhaled. I would definitely shop Foods of Athenry again to send a little sweet something to a friend at home.

Also included in the November "cozy-up" My Ireland Box was a pocket book, Irish Myths and Legends, from Appletree Press. It's a cute little book but was a little surprised to find that it's a reference guide — was expecting a little book of stories, not a who's who in Irish mythology. That said, I have found myself flipping through it and making notes of stories I want to revisit or old Irish characters I want to research. Again, I have a full appreciation for all things old and traditional but I would have loved to have found a poem or short story from Nuala Ní Chonchúir or another hot, now Irish writer.

Sorry, I obviously have a shamrock-shaped chip on my shoulder; the version of Ireland sold on this side of the ocean doesn't always marry with my own so I try maybe a little too hard to avoid the cliche. Cute book and loved the idea of cozying up with a book, a sweet, a cup of tea (wish there'd been a tea bag!), and a mug cozy.

I loved getting a package from home. I was excited to receive it and could imagine how much fun it would be to gift or receive. It's easy and unique. Love the idea of this company and applaud the founders for their mission to promote Irish businesses and share a little bit of Ireland with the world. With a little digging I found that My Ireland Box has featured some really cool contemporary Irish makers like Jennifer Slattery, Liz Christy, Matt Jones, Eoin O'Connor, Sinéad Lough, Placed, and Blaithín Ennis in past boxes. Makes me want to put a year-long subscription on my Christmas list just for the monthly surprise!

This company is definitely one to watch. Would love to see it grow to include gift boxes curated by Irish celebrities or themed to suit certain categories, like food, holidays, or occasions. There are so many Irish living away from home right now—like all of my cousins ;-( — and I could definitely see my remaining family members in Ireland wanting to send them a little care package from home. So much potential here ...

Get your shop on/get your Irish up!
MyIrelandBox on FB
Cost: €30 one month, €90 three months, €165 six months, €330 twelve months; €17.50 mini box

1 comment:

Katharine Keane said...

Dear Jacinta,
Thank you very much for your review of the November MyIrelandBox. We too love the Foods of Athenry biscuit cake! With so many talented makers in Ireland, 2014 is going to be an exciting year of surprises for MyIrelandBox recipients.
Best regards from Dingle, Ireland and have a wonderful Christmas
Katharine & The MyIrelandBox Team

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