According to the US Migration Policy Institute, there are as many as 39.6 million people living in the US who claim to have full or partial ancestry from Ireland.
It’s well established that the first Irish migrants made a huge impact — helping to shape America during its formative years, particularly in New York and Chicago. The Irish found employment in the police and fire departments and other public service departments and as late as the 1960s, it was estimated that 42 percent of the workforce of New York’s Police Department were Irish Americans.
It’s this rich history of the Irish in America that accounts for the popularity of Irish gift stores throughout America.
Hernando County has its very own Irish gift store — it’s the House of Claddagh and a treasury of all things Irish.
Ellen Timothy is the owner of the gift shop and she and her family are proud to bring some of Ireland’s history and folklore to our neighborhood. It was back in the 1920s that her grandparents migrated to the United States from Ireland and, more recently, her parents-in-laws also.
“It’s a family business,” said Timothy. “My daughter Mary Beth helps me in the shop several days of the week.”
Timothy’s gift store has been inspiring people with all things Celtic since March 5, 1985. And, doing the math, that means Timothy has been selling Irish gifts in Brooksville for more than 32 years.
Timothy explained that demand for Irish and Celtic-themed merchandise has remained strong in the US.
“It’s because so many of us in the US have Irish blood,” she said. “My own heritage comes from the counties of Galway and Kerry — and we like to be reminded of that heritage and quirky Irish ways.”
The very name of her store “House of Claddagh” derives from the county of Galway, where the first Claddagh rings (Irish Gaelic: fáinne Chladaigh) were made.
A Claddagh ring traditionally represents love, loyalty, and friendship — the hands represent friendship, the heart represents love, and the crown represents loyalty. The design and customs associated with it originated in the Irish fishing village of Claddagh, located just outside the old city walls of Galway, now part of Galway City. The ring was first produced in the 17th century.
The way to wear a claddagh ring is significant too. When worn on the right hand with the heart facing inward toward the body indicates the wearer is in a relationship, or that "someone has captured their heart.” Worn on the left hand facing outward away from the body generally indicates that the wearer is engaged.
Many of the Celtic designs on other items of jewelry in Timothy’s shop come from the ancient Book of Kells. The manuscript is so influential that most of the Irish jewelry being crafted today, like necklaces, rings, brooches and earrings, has its roots in the exquisite calligraphy styles and unique iconic forms contained in the manuscript.
House of Claddagh is crammed from floor to ceiling with every imaginable Irish gift — whether searching for Irish christening gifts, Irish wedding gift ideas or even collectibles like Irish Belleek pottery, pure Irish linen, Royal Tara fine china or exquisite Galway and Waterford crystal glasses and vases.
For the jewelry lover in your life this is the one-stop shop of beautiful pieces, whatever your budget may allow.
Shoppers also will find glass cases filled with Sterling silver Solvar jewelry items, including Celtic embossed leather cuffs and bracelets with Celtic weave designs, Celtic crosses and Celtic knot pieces including wedding bands, along with a large assortment of rosaries with varying colors of beads and religious items for baptisms and communions.
Newly acquired is the unique dancing stone jewelry from the Damhsa Collection featuring a Cubic zirconia (also known as CZ) in motion. The ‘twinkle’ of this collection of jewelry is very unique and eye-catching. The store also carries children’s jewelry including fine silver new-born baby bracelets.
Interested in your Irish heritage? Timothy can help there too. Custom order your coat of arms and have it mounted on a copper and walnut plaque.
"They make a lovely wedding gift," Timothy said.
“From birth to death,” said Timothy. It’s all here, she said pointing up to a top shelf where several cremation urns were discreetly displayed.
Timothy regularly travels across the pond to the “old country,” She likes to see what’s new over there and always returns laden with newly found Irish gift items.
Most all items at House of Claddagh are acquired directly from Ireland or from U.S. distributors.
“Practically everything here is made in Ireland, she said.”
“Irish knit caps, cashmere and merino wool scarves, shamrock sweaters, sweat shirts and T-shirts and glasses for a pint of Guinness glasses.”
There’s also lots of Irish-themed baby things, baby clothes; Christening outfits and children’s First Communion outfits. Check out the little Leprechaun cheerleading outfit.
Stuffed in open drawers and shelves all around the shop are Irish-themed books and greeting cards, framed pictures; Irish music and Irish tea. Also novelty items: lapel pins, hats, key chains, coffee cups, bumper stickers and wall hangings proclaiming Irish blessings and slogans (e.g. cead mile failté – Gaelic for 100,000 welcomes!)
Naturally, there’s an abundance of St. Patrick’s Day Parade apparel too: Hats, green beads, T-shirts, sweaters, baseball caps that read: Slainté, Irish for “cheers or good luck.”
You'll find everything from quirky cards and books to cute Gaelic-talking teddy bears at House of Claddagh. Be prepared to spend an hour or so browsing. Plus, any gift is wrapped up beautifully in Emerald Isle green tissue and bags for you, too.
House of Claddagh also stocks Inis colognes for him and her and novelty items such as flags, pins, bumper stickers, leprechaun hats and key chains.
“I’m always looking for new items and expanding our product line, and I want to keep our customers happy.”
IF YOU GO
House of Claddagh is located at 5596 Commercial Way,
Spring Hill, FL 34606.
Mon-Sat 10:00 am-5:30 pm
Closed Sundays and Major Holidays
(352) 686-0102 or 800-226-2523