This past winter, the Shamrock Shanty made a move for Fenwick Island, and with St. Patrick’s Day nearly arrived, store owner Pat Griffith won’t even need the luck o’ the Irish this season, as business is already taking off.
“The last weeks of February through the first weeks of March are always big ones for us,” said Griffith, who said she is pleased to not only find a break in the economy’s recent slump but also to carry on a family tradition for generations. “My Irish heritage comes from my mother’s side,” she said, “and it’s nice to hold onto that.”
The Shamrock Shanty has been specializing in Irish and Celtic gifts and collectibles for nearly 20 years, and a recent move into tax-free Delaware is likely to draw even more Irish eyes, noted Griffith.
“The main thing is getting the word out that we’re up here now,” she emphasized. “It’s definitely a good business.”
From jewelry and apparel to mugs, signs and more, the Shamrock Shanty has everything you could want to bring out the Irish in you.
“Between 75 to 80 percent of the things we carry come directly from Ireland,” noted Griffith. “And anything else we come across with a shamrock or Irish theme to it, we try to put on the shelves. We have a lot of novelty items and everything you’re looking for before you go to the parade,” she added of Ocean City’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade this Saturday.
The authentic, high-end jewelry has seen a lot of success – due, in part, to the depiction of the Irish culture in Hollywood. Movies such as “P.S., I Love You” and the upcoming “Leap Year” touch on timeless traditions from the island country in northwestern Europe. Television shows such as “Charmed” highlight the lore and tradition behind Celtic symbols.
“The movie ‘Ladder 49’ was probably one of the best things that could have happened to Irish culture when it comes to jewelry,” explained Griffith. “In the movie, a fireman explains the meaning of a particular ring, and the story behind it has helped us sell a number of them.”
According to traditional lore, how the Irish claddagh ring is worn depicts the wearer’s marital status. The ring itself features a crown on a heart, held between two hands. The hands symbolize friendship, the heart love and the crown loyalty. The direction the heart is pointing illustrates whether the wearer is available or has found their true love.
“If you are not Irish, you probably know someone who is,” said Griffith, “and customers are always stopping in to find that unusual gift. Everyone wants to be the one who gives something that makes people say, ‘Wow, where did you get that?’ And that’s something we can provide. We offer unique Irish and Celtic gifts that you can’t find anywhere else.”
“People want to know what the Irish symbols are all about,” Griffith added. “You don’t see that fascination in other nationalities. Ireland has romance and history. We get a lot of people stopping in, wanting to learn about their ancestry. We carry books that help them find that or give them direction. We can look up which parish your family came from.”
When it comes to St. Patrick’s Day, few other cultures seem to offer the acceptance and welcoming that unites everyone on March 17.
“We Irish have our own holiday,” said Griffith, “and on St. Patrick’s Day, even if you aren’t truly Irish, you are that day. It’s hard to find shops that are devoted entirely to a nationality like this, but I think a lot of people enjoy stopping in.”
The Shamrock Shanty is located in the Ocean Bay Plaza, just down from Jimmy’s Kitchen, in Fenwick Island. For more information about the shop, visit their Web site at www.theshamrockshanty.com or call (302) 537-2220. The store will be open every day leading up to St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, and will continue with weekend hours through to the summer season.