London's shopping industry offers a colourful mix of global influences on our high streets. With Ireland's rich heritage in fashion, fabrics and food, exports from the Emerald Isle are treasured over here in London town. We've recommended a few shops where you can pick up the finest Irish produce this St Patrick’s Day.
This veritable treasure trove of malts has a complete contingent from Ireland to choose from, ideal shopping for St Patrick’s Day. The fact that the Irish can't have a coffee without slipping a shot of whiskey into it is proof, if it were needed, that they are just as keen on a nip of the hard stuff as their Gaelic comrades over the water. Their version might not be as famous the world over, but, stone me, it tastes mighty fine. Smooth and sweet, it can easily knock your socks off. This shop is a haven for enthusiasts with a quite mind-boggling selection, which would take years of liver-annihilating drinking to explore fully. If you are still in your whiskey nappies, ask advice from the knowledgeable staff, and pick up a fine bottle to toast St Patrick.
Rosslyn is one of London's finest delis and well worth the trip up to Hampstead. Their selection of fresh cheeses is legendary. Ireland's culinary heritage is well represented here with a variety of brands from all over the country. The soft flavours of melt-in-your-mouth Cashel Blue sit next to the robust camembert-style Cooleeny and award-winning Milleens. They'll either take you back to your roots or offer a new taste experience altogether. English and Irish cheese-making have a shared heritage but the latter aren't widely available in the UK, so here's your chance. Of course, the deli has a whole world more to offer, so you can pick a bag full of other exotic specialities too. The staff are wonderfully clued-up and have a real enthusiasm for their wares.
Irish designer Orla Kiely burst onto the fashion scene in a splash of signature prints and bold colours that have become her calling card. It was a particularly bold move given the universally monochrome fashion palate of the 1990s. But her unique use of mismatching colours, graphic prints and layered textures has won her a loyal following among the fashion pack. Spot one of her bags apparently casually slung over a shoulder in the street and you instantly know it's an Orla Kiely - you should also know there's nothing casual about investing in one of these pricey totes. From designing bags to clothes, she has expanded to homeware, ceramics and wallpaper, formats to which her prints are well suited. She has also designed two capsule collections for the Tate and has worked on projects for MoMA in New York, Target Breast Cancer and Heals.
One of Ireland's most well known fashion designers, Louise Kennedy has extended her designs from clothing to a contemporary crystal collection for Tipperary Crystal. Her London store is located in the sophisticated streets of Belgravia, on the corner of West Halkin Street and Lowndes Street. Renowned for their simple elegance, her designer clothes are expensive but timeless - a style that suits celebrity clients like Meryl Streep, Gwyneth Paltrow and Cherie Blair. You'll also find her clothes in Harrods and the Irish equivalent, Brown Thomas in Dublin. In the Irish capital, the stunning Louise Kennedy shop is housed in a Georgian townhouse on Merrion Square, where Louise's streamlined suits are sold alongside Philip Treacy hats and David Linley furniture.
Irish hat designer Philip Treacy has elevated the status of head pieces to an art form. His elegantly and outrageously sculptural hats have graced designer catwalks for Chanel and Alexander McQueen and seen Treacy hailed as the most talented milliner of his generation. Championed by the late Isabella Blow from a young age, Treacy opened this elegant shop in Elizabeth Street in 1994, next door to Blow's old house at 67 Elizabeth Street - where Treacy's business first began in the basement. His famously iconic pieces include hats fashioned into boats and lobsters and worn by the likes of Erin O'Connor and Grace Jones. These hand made couture items are beyond the budget for most people but there are more affordable ready to wear collections too - his rainwear trilby, for example, is a reasonable £150.
Did you know??The potent concoction of Irish coffee was invented at Shannon airport in the 1940s. Shannon was a major hub for transatlantic flying boat flights. One day in 1943 a flying boat took off, encountered a vicious storm and turned back. The weather grew worse, however, so upon landing the passengers were ushered back into the terminal building. Legend has it that the on-duty chef threw some cream, sugar and Irish whiskey together to comfort the passengers and when one of them asked whether it was Brazilian coffee, he replied "no, that's Irish coffee". There was an American reporter at the airport who took the recipe back to America and the rest is history.
St Patrick's Day in London 2010
The Irish have observed St Patrick's Day as a religious festival for thousands of years. Thought to have been born in the tiny Wel...History
The official London celebrations - that's the ones that don't revolve around pubs, Guinness and more pubs - take place on Sunday 1...The Parade 2010
London's events calendar is always crammed with a raft of diverse entertainment but this St Patrick's Day London is joining in the...Events 2010
Guinness and oysters are traditional Irish fare, best enjoyed in the hubbub of a pub on St Patrick's Day. For something a lit...Irish Food
Going to mass on St Patrick's Day is a tradition that has spanned decades. Many of the Catholic churches in London ...Catholic Churches