Monday, October 31, 2016

Halloween's Celtic Roots


The Irish Gift House asks, did you know that Halloween and many of its traditions can be traced back to Ireland?
Samhain, pronounced Sah-ween, is a Celtic festival marking the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter.  Samhain straddles the time between autumn and winter that coincided with the periods of abundance and shortage.  On the verge of the darker half of the year, Samhain marked the last opportunity for fun, but it was also a time of enhanced superstition.
a new taste of Ireland cookbookThe festival starts in the evening of October 31st and continued through November 1st, Samhain indicated three critical dates in the Celtic calendar: the end of the year, the beginning of the year and the start of winter.   The date is roughly between the fall equinox and the winter solstice and Samhain is one of the four Celtic seasonal celebrations, the other three being Imbolc on February 1st, Beltane on May 1st and Lughnasadh on August 1st.  These important dates were traditional observed in Ireland, Scotland, the Isle of Man, and also in parts of Brittany, Cornwall and Wales.
     
Many important actions in ancient Irish tradition happen or begin on Samhain.  It was the time of the year when livestock were brought down from the summer pastures and when animals were slaughtered and stored for the long cold winter.
 
Because Samhain was consider a threshold time the souls of the dead could more easily travel between worlds and invariably they would return to their former homes where they were welcome.  Meals were prepared  and the souls of dead love ones were gestured to attend with a place setting left for them at the table.

A traditional Samhain dish that continues to be served today is colcannon with charms hidden in the  potato and cabbage dish.   The charms that were found in the colcannon were seen as a indication for the future.  For example, a button meant you would remain a bachelor, and a thimble meant you would remain a spinster for the coming year; while a ring meant you would be soon married, and a coin meant you would come into wealth.   Take a look at our New Taste of Ireland cookbook and the simple colcannon recipe.

The ancient Celts would light large bonfires to aid the dead on their way.  The bonfires were also lit as protection from the potentially evil spirits and fairies that were also able to move more freely between this world and the otherworld during Samhain.  Additional rituals related to bonfires included throwing a clipping of your hair into the raging fire and then later while sleeping you would dream of you future love.  Another practice involved ushering the cattle between the fires as a cleansing ceremony after the bones of the previously butchered stock had been thrown into the bonfire.  This fire of bones eventually evolved into our vernacular as bonfire.

Bobbing for apples is another ritual that originated with the fall festival; the implication was the first single person to effectively bite and grab an apple would be the next person to marry.   The consequence may be unknown to today's participants, but bobbing for apples is offered at many Halloween parties.

The earliest Halloween costumes, in the form of hollowed out animal heads, can also be connected to Samhain.  The rational was these scary costumes would protect the human by scaring away the evil spirits that had entered from the otherworld.   Many would leave gifts of food outside their doors in an effort to keep these evil spirits from entering their homes believing that the offerings would be appeasing.   These two combined rituals are partially what evolved into today's trick or treat.
In  an effort to remove many of the pagan rituals from Samhain the Catholic Church in the 9th century changed the date of All Saints' Day to November 1st and added November 2nd as All Soul's Day.  Eventually these three days formed what we know as the modern Halloween, but it wasn't until large numbers of Irish immigrated to the United States in the 1800's that these traditions took hold in this country.
Have a safe Celtic inspired Halloween and please remember that from Irish gifts to Celtic jewelry The Irish Gift House is your one stop Irish shop. 

Friday, October 28, 2016

Celtic Jewelry


The use of Celtic knots and designs in jewelry dates as far back as the 5th century BC as evidenced by torques that have been found by archaeologists.  These ornate torques with their unending lines were worn around the neck of nobles and warriors who believed that energy from the jewelry would be transferred to the wearer and subsequently it would act to ward off evil.   Additionally the suspected vitality of the torque was considered another layer of protection in battle. 
Celtic Bracelets: The Irish Gift House

The ancient Celts believed that the particular metal of the object held significance and related silver to the moon and gold to the sun: those with less affluence and influence has to settle for the more common and relatively accessible bronze or iron for their jewelry construction.          


Book of Kells Jewelry: The Irish Gift House
In due course these torques evolved into Celtic bracelets and the interlaced and uninterrupted lines that decorated the jewelry became more elaborate.   By the time the Book of Kells, a opulently decorated manuscript containing the four Gospels of the New Testament, was written in the 8th century AD, Celtic designs had undergone a brilliant transformation that is demonstrated in the animated illustrations and complex embellishments of the treasured book.   Today you will find these elaborate designs in the Book of Kells jewelry.

  
Dating back 5,000 years to the stone age, Newgrange, a temple with large passage tomb, was built in Co. Meath, Ireland by the local farming community.  Very deliberately, the passage and chamber are aligned with the rising sun at the Winter Solstice thus celebrating the renaissance of the sun after the shortest day of the year.  Many of the megaliths that surround Newgrange are decorated with carved art with the most impressive and recognizable being the entrance stone which is engraved with the tri spiral design that is often found on Newgrange jewelry.   

Many early cultures paid homage to trees and the ancient Celts were no different.  They believed that trees were the foundation of life and that they held mystical powers that represented balance and harmony so it was natural for the symbolism of the tree, often with its supplemental Celtic
Tree of Life Jewelry: The Irish Gift House
knots, to be worn as ornamentation and jewelry.  Today it is common to find the icon as tattoos and as Tree of Life necklaces and earrings.
The monolith Celtic crosses that dot the Irish landscape are some of the most recognizable icons of early Christianity in Ireland.  Many of these monuments, including Cross of Scriptures at Clonmacnoise, are decorated with ornate figure carving and detailed knot work with the principal characteristic being the circle connecting the arms.  As a sign of faith, Christians are often encouraged to wear a cross around their neck so it is very understandable that the Celtic cross necklace would become the symbol of choice for those of Irish and Scottish heritage.


In 1850 a rural woman in Co. Meath, Ireland found an ancient Celtic brooch
Celtic Brooch: The Irish Gift House
that was buried in a sandy beach.  Purely for marketing purposes the brooch was named after the Hill of Tara that is traditionally accepted as the seat of the High Kings of Ireland.  The Tara brooch was made circa 700 AD and illustrates the highly developed craft of goldsmithing in early Ireland.  The much copied Tara brooch now resides at the National Museum and is regarded as one of Ireland's ancient treasures. 

Celtic Wedding Bands: The Irish Gift House
Through their continuous lines the knot and spiral designs in Celtic jewelry symbolizes the wealth and clarity of the ancient Celts.  One of the primary symbolisms of the unending Celtic knot is the representation of endless love so the designs have easily been equated to marriage and thus the popularity of Celtic knot wedding bands 

Celtic Necklaces: The Irish Gift House
The Irish Gift House is proud to offer a full range of jewelry that includes Celtic necklaces and Celtic earrings that is completely made in Ireland.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Irish Christmas Traditions

Candle in the Window - Irish Christmas TraditionIt seems that the Irish were born to celebrate; just look at St. Patrick's Day, weddings and even wakes for the fun evidence.  Christmas is certainly no different, and while it is a religious season, it is also a time for merriment and festivities that have developed many time honored Irish traditions.

The Candle in the Window:
In the late 16th Century, England imposed Penal Laws in Ireland which effectively outlawed the Catholic Church and the Catholic Mass. The faithful Irish did not think well of these English mandates and a candle was placed in the front window of a home to indicate to others that this was a safe place for priests to perform Mass.

The meaning of the candle in the window, that was traditionally lit by the youngest member of the family, has since evolved into a welcome sign for the Holy Family; it can also represent the love for a family member who cannot be home at Christmas. It is now common to see the front windows of Irish homes lavishly decorated with several electrical candles and lights at Christmas time.  This once exclusively Irish Christmas tradition has now transcended to Christians throughout the world.

Another candle related tradition is the lighting of an Advent wreath.  Advent starts on the fourth Sunday before Christmas and ends on Christmas Eve.  With each ensuing Sunday during the Advent season an additional candle is lit in preparation of Christ's birth; each week has its own theme: hope, peace, joy and love. 

The Irish Gift House features Advent wreaths with Celtic knots; for additional illumination we also have an assortment of light up Irish angel tree toppers too.

Midnight Mass:

Throughout the world, no matter how much they intended to go more often, many Christians go to church only at Christmas; sometimes even the faithful in Ireland fail to go to church every week.  It is an annual tradition on Christmas Eve to attend midnight mass and the Churches in Ireland are full to capacity. For many Irish, the Midnight Mass is a social event shared by friends and family as much as it is religious celebration. Friends will visit with prayer, the singing of Christmas Carols and some good conversation.
Irish Santa at The Irish Gift House
No Milk and Cookies for Santa:
Just before going to bed you will want to leave the traditional Irish treat for Santa Claus.  No it is not milk and cookies but a pint of Guinness and a mince pie. 

By the way, The Irish Gift House has a grand selection of Irish Santa figurines

The Holly Wreath:
For many generations the holly wreath has been traditionally placed on Irish front doors during the Christmas season.  While many in Ireland's past could not afford store bought decoration, even the poorest of the poor could afford to gather the abundant sprigs of holly and every home was decorated with a holly wreath.

In Celtic mythology, the holly was the sacred twin of the oak tree; the deciduous oak was the controller of the sunny summer months while the evergreen holly controlled the dark balance of the year. The Druids believed the holly to own shielding characteristics that offered protection against evil spirits and magical powers.  Celtic lore believed that bringing the leaves of the holly tree inside during the cold months would provide sanctuary from the winter chill for the wee fairy folk, who in return would be generous to those who lived in the home.

Christians have also given the holly tree special reverence as it is believe that holly formed part of the crown of thorns worn at the crucifixion and it was Christ's blood that gave the holly berries their red color.  Christians are also credited for giving the holly tree its name which was derived from the word holy.

Decorating with a wreath on your door is another Irish Christmas tradition that has evolved to become common for Christians throughout the world.
 
Please visit our Irish Christmas Decorations category at theirishgifthouse.com for additional ideas that include several hundred Irish Christmas ornaments and on their own separate page, the Belleek ornaments.  We also have an assortment of Irish Nativity scenes and ornaments along with a collection of Irish nutcrackersThe Irish Gift House is your one stop Irish Christmas shop
Irish Christmas Ornaments at The Irish Gift House

Saturday, September 10, 2016

The Salmon of Knowledge - Mystical Irish Legend


Solvar Jewelry has just released their newest necklace adapted from a mystical Irish legend; the 
The Salmon of Knowledge Necklace.
second in this series is the Salmon of Knowledge Necklace that is tailored from the folklore of Finn McCool.  In addition to the majestic salmon the sterling silver pendant boasts gold plated Trinity knots and can be found on the Celtic necklaces page on our site, www.theirishgifthouse.com.   Like last year's introduction, the Children of Lir necklace, the Salmon of Knowledge pendant is part of the Fáilte collection.
The Salmon of Knowledge Irish legend is about Fionn Mac Cumhail, (pronounced Finn McCool in English), and how he inadvertently came to acquire the knowledge of the great fish and then become the leader of the ancient Fianna tribe.
The Irish story takes place in the Boyne Valley where McCool meets an aged poet who spent his days fishing the Boyne river.  The poet, whose name is also Fionn, (Fionn or Finn translates to fair in English) happens to know the prophecy of the enchanted salmon and that the first person to taste the fish would be granted all the knowledge in the world.  The poet and McCool become friends, but the poet never shares the prophecy with his young apprentice as he wishes to obtain the power of the salmon for himself.
  

After many years, the old poet caught the great fish and instructed McCool to cook the fish while he rested.  He further instructed McCool to not so much as taste the fish, the poet must be the first to eat.

McCool was an honorable lad and did as he was instructed, but while cooking a blister formed on the salmons skin that McCool impulsively busted with his right thumb.  In the process McCool burned the tip of his thumb and to ease the pain placed this thumb in his mouth, thus becoming the first person to taste the salmon of knowledge.
The old poet was angry when he found out that McCool has tasted the salmon as his one chance at infinite knowledge had disappeared while he was asleep.  The poet later told McCool about his newly acquired gift.  Finn McCool grew in strength of character, knowledge and acquired advanced skills in the arts and military command; he then become the leader of the ancient Fianna tribe.

We also have Irish legend gifts from Mullingar Pewter that includes the Salmon of Knowledge Goblet, the Salmon of Knowledge tankard and the Salmon of Knowledge whiskey glass; additionally there is also a Children of Lir Goblet, the Children of Lir Tankard and the Children of Lir whiskey glass.

Visit our site or give us a call at The Irish Gift House so that we may assist you with finding the perfect Irish gifts or Celtic jewelry for any occasion; from Irish wedding gifts to Irish Christmas ornaments and decorations, we have it all.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Irish Wedding Traditions Includes Wearing a Kilt!




Formalwear from KiltRentalUSA.com
Formalwear from KiltRentalUSA.com
The fall wedding season is quickly approaching so we at The Irish Gift House would be remiss if we
didn't let you know about our long time friends at KiltRentalUSA.com.   In our modern world many couples are reaching back to the past and are discovering their rich Celtic heritage.  One of the best ways to celebrate this birthright is for the groom and his groomsmen to wear a traditional kilt as their formalwear.  The bride may also indulge by wearing a matching tartan sash or accent.
Get all the details by contacting the McClanathan boys and their helpful staff; they are the leaders in kilt sales and rentals and have everything from kilt measurements to shipping down to a science.  From complete kilt rental packages to kilt accessories, KiltRentalUSA.com will provide you with an excellent rental experience. 
Naturally, you may also visit TheIrishGiftHouse.com for a complete selection of Irish wedding gifts and accessories that ranges from Irish champagne flutes to Irish wedding cake toppers.  You may also want to take a look at our Irish wedding traditions page to find out important matters such as what is the best day for the Irish to marry and what are appropriate Irish beverages and food to serve your guests.

Celtic Wedding Bands at TheIrishGiftHouse.com
Celtic Wedding Bands at TheIrishGiftHouse.com

And if you are in the market for Celtic wedding bands or a Claddagh wedding ring, The Irish Gift House has a complete range of Irish made jewelry that will accentuate your proud Celtic heritage.    

Sunday, August 28, 2016

The new Irish & Celtic jewelry from Solvar is on the way.


Dave Duggan, Solvar Jewelry
Just this Thursday Kerry and I were treated to the new Irish and Celtic jewelry from Solvar.  Dave Duggan, the US Sales Executive for Solvar Jewelry, made his annual pilgrimage from Massachusetts to Phoenix, Arizona to show us all the new product.  As usual it was well worth everyone's time; Dave showed us about 200 exciting new pieces that ranged from Claddagh rings to the Tree of Life jewelry, and we bought just about every one!  We will receive the first batch of Solvar jewelry from Ireland by mid September and we will be busy publishing the new product to theirishgifthouse.com.  You may check our New Irish Gifts page to see how we are progressing.

Celtic Wedding Band
Solvar has always been known for their eclectic style of jewelry that ranges from traditional Irish jewelry to Celtic designs that imitate the popular trends to completely innovation designs.  One of our favorite new designs included the heaviest and thickest Celtic wedding bands that were amazingly comfortable to wear.   Another of our favorites are some of the lightest Celtic necklaces and earrings that feature a puffed dimensional design, but were hollow inside.

Solvar has always been a leader in Connemara marble jewelry and this year was no exception.  Some of the new designs featured facet cut Connemara marble; we had never seen this unique style before.  From looking at the new line there must be a resurgence in Celtic brooches as more new designs were offered than in previous years; we are not complaining, a handsome brooch can be the perfect accent to any outfit.  And Solvar also had more harp jewelry than in recent visit; as I'm sure you know, the harp is Ireland's national emblem and it is present on all official documents.

We also selected some gold Celtic cross necklaces with large lab created emeralds.  The lab created emeralds look brilliant and by using them, Solvar is able to keep the cost down.  We can't wait until we get this new Solvar jewelry published to our site; we better get busy!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

The Irish Gift House Celebrates Our 30,000th Order!


The Irish Gift House - 30,000 Orders!I guess that Kerry and I were relatively late in embracing e-commerce at The Irish Gift House as we didn't launce theirishgifthouse.com until 2005.  We had a thriving "brick and mortar" retail business in place and we were happy taking orders by phone and by mail.  We didn't know what was good for us!

What we first thought was that our customers might want to see what Irish gifts and Celtic jewelry we offered and would next take a drive to our store.   We think that is actually how the internet first worked; at least it did for us.  For example, a customer would call and ask if we had Claddagh rings.  We would say, "We had many Claddagh rings, and they are all made in Ireland."  The next question might be to describe what some of our Claddagh rings look like.  That can be a little difficult over the phone, so by directing the customer to our website (if they had access, remember not everyone did in 2005) they could take a gander and would then typically visit our store.
Claddagh RingAs the years past and as the internet expanded an interesting phenomenon occurred; the customer would skip visiting our store and would simply make the purchase from our site!   We started to think that this internet might catch on and kept adding more and more Irish goods to our site including Celtic crosses and Celtic wedding bands.  In fact over the years we have added over 15,000 Irish gifts to theirishgifthouse.com, but through attrition, we currently have just over 9,000 items.

Early on we often went days or weeks at a time without an order; while today we wonder if our site is up if we didn't take an order in the last hour.  Now during the Christmas season we will often take over 100 orders in a day; that keeps the two of us hopping!  There have been a couple of times that we even considered temporarily taking our site off line so we could catch our breath.
Thinking of Christmas, it was Irish Christmas ornaments and Irish Santa decorations that were some of our earliest sales.  We still ship a lot of them today, but our number one categories are Irish jewelry and Celtic jewelry.  We think that there was once apprehension in buying jewelry from a "stranger".  Today the apprehension has been replace with the confidence of dealing with a reputable merchant, even if it is electronically.       

Kerry and I have been, and continue to be grateful to the thousands of customers who have trusted us over the years.  We look forward to hearing from you soon!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

The Irish Gift House features Irish and Celtic jewelry from Solvar!


The Irish Gift House features Irish and Celtic jewelry from Solvar! 

 

 
Solvar Claddagh Engagement Ring2016 marks the 75th anniversary of Solvar Jewelry!  For several generations this Irish family owned business has been one of the leading manufacturers and exporters of Irish jewelry and has won multiple awards along the way. 

The extensive range from Solvar includes
Claddagh rings, Celtic rings, Celtic cross necklaces, Celtic jewelry, shamrock jewelry, St.Brigid's crosses and more.  Their annual catalog typically features over 1,000 current jewelry pieces and they offer their jewelry in precious metals such as gold and silver and they also offer plated pieces too.   Solvar additionally offers many of their designs with stones that range from diamonds and emeralds to crystals and has a beautiful collection of Connemara marble jewelry 

Not only does Solvar offer several choices in metals and symbols, but they are also famous for the diversity of their product lines.  For example in Sterling silver alone Solvar offers Claddagh jewelry as rings and bands, brooches, earrings, necklaces and pendants, charms and beads, bracelets and bangles, and cuff links!

Solvar offers the finest in traditional Irish jewelry featuring all the classic designs and they are also innovative with their new product development that often emulates the current trends with an added Irish or Celtic twist.

Every year we receive a visit from our Solvar representative and it often takes 3 to 4 hours just to see the newest product.   The new products are next proudly added to our site and the orders never seem to stop!

The Irish Gift House is proud to say that Solvar has been our principle Celtic and Irish jewelry purveyor for the past 18 years.  Ever since we launched theirishgifthouse.com in 2005 we have made it our goal to feature every available piece from Solvar on our site.  Today you will find about 2,000 different and often unique pieces of Solvar jewelry on our site and we have almost every piece is in stock for quick delivery.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

New Irish and Celtic Jewelry from TJH.
Once again we have stumbled across some Irish jewelry and Celtic jewelry in our inventory that had not yet been published to www.theirishgifthouse.com.  Truthfully, we didn't find anything, we knew that we had the jewelry, I was just too lazy to add it to the site.   The jewelry assortment is from TJH, one of the largest precious metal jewelers in Ireland.
 
We" found" this eclectic group of TJH jewelry that includes Children of Lir jewelry, Claddagh rings, Claddagh earrings, Celtic rings and silver Celtic wedding bands.  We also added some Celtic cross necklaces and a couple of  bracelets with Irish and Celtic symbols.   Some of these items are well stocked or are available for re-order, and some of the other jewelry pieces are retired and limited to stock on hand.  Visit our New Irish Gifts page to see all the "new" TJH jewelry in one spot.
 
One of the new pieces is a Sterling silver, Children of Lir, charm bracelet that features four swan charms; one for each of Lir's children that were cast into a spell according to the Irish legend.  At 15% off, the Children of Lir charm bracelet is our special of the week.
 
If you would like to read the Children of Lir legend click on this link: Children of Lir jewelry.

If you are familiar with www.theirishgifthouse.com you will know that we have long featured Claddagh wedding rings and Celtic wedding bands from the TJH Eternal Celtic Wedding Band collection.  These Celtic wedding rings are great sellers and we will continue to feature them on our site along with adding new product from TJH.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Happy Anniversary to The Irish Gift House!

The month of July marks two anniversaries for The Irish Gift House.  On July 5th we marked 23 years in business, and 3 years ago, on July 27, we transitioned to an all on-line Irish gift store.

Kerry and I, with help from her dad, Rod O'Neal, spent the 1994 Independence Day weekend putting the finishing touches on The Irish Gift House in Tempe, AZ so that we would be ready for the grand opening on July 5th.  We did all the build outs ourselves and felt that we had created a charming representation of Ireland in the middle of the desert.
 
The Irish Gift House - Brick and Mortar
We had a great assortment of Irish gifts, that just like today, focused on Irish jewelry, that included Claddagh rings and Claddagh jewelry, and Celtic jewelry, that included Celtic Crosses and Celtic wedding bands.  All we needed opening day was a few customers.
 
At first our customer base grew slowly and then all of a sudden, the flood gates opened up.  By our first Christmas we knew that we would be around for a long time and Kerry and I were really having fun by our first St. Patrick's day.
 
Over the years we have served multiple generations of customers.  We have sold Claddagh wedding rings to couples, who then bought Claddagh rings for their children, and have now bought Irish gifts for their grandchildren.  We sure made a lot of friends along the way.

With the introduction of traditional Irish food, we found out just how many Irish immigrants had settled in metropolitan Phoenix area.   With their Irish brogues and their friendly Irish demeanor, these Irishmen and Irishwomen added to the Irish atmosphere of our store.

As the years progressed, our store was so crowded with Irish gifts and jewelry that we were concerned the Tempe fire marshal would shut us down.   Except for some narrow passages, every inch of The Irish Gift House was utilized for display.  We had eight jewelry display cases that included seven vertical displays!  Just like today, we had every conceivable Celtic knot necklace and earrings, shamrock jewelry, Claddagh ring, Celtic Cross necklace and Celtic wedding band an Irish heart could desire.  And were we busy, but then came the internet.  We were still just as busy, but in a different way.

Thankfully we had a heavy presence on the internet with our site, theirishgifthouse.com, and our on-line sales of Irish gifts keep growing as the web evolved, but we also noticed that our in store traffic was slowing down.  Internet sales represented about 10% of our sales early on, but by 2012 we noticed that over 60% of our sales were on-line and the trend was growing.  Or brick and mortar store was becoming a glorified warehouse for the internet.  By the time we completed the transition to all on-line sales our store traffic was only 30% of our total sales; the decision to evolve was almost made for us.

Until the next big change in retail, you will find The Irish Gift House on the internet.            


 

Saturday, July 16, 2016

The O'Connor Jewelry Heist.

Kerry and I first met the very affable Jim O'Connor in 1995 at Showcase Ireland, the annual Irish trade show.  We had already been selling Irish and Celtic jewelry from his company since opening The Irish Gift House in July of 1994, but it was nice to finally put a face to the name.  O'Connor was our principal Irish jewelry vendor throughout the 90's and on one of his sales visits to us in Arizona, Kerry placed an order of over $90,000.00.  Jim told us it was his largest single order; we sold a lot of O'Connor Jewelry in those days.

 Jewelry form O'Connor sold well, and it should, as it was the then Thomas O'Connor and Sons that opened the Claddagh ring market in the US.  O'Connor became the largest manufacturer of Irish jewelry and was well known in the Irish market as well.  On more than one occasion we had Dublin customers in our store reminisce that "O'Connor's Diamonds" was the place to go for engagement rings.
 
On the surface O'Connor was strong, but the reality was O'Connor was fighting back from one of the largest gold and diamond thefts in European history.   In 1983, O'Connor was victimized by Martin Cahill, The General, when over €2.55 million in gold and diamonds were stolen.
 
Cahill's gang identified a weak point in O'Connor's security system as they forced their way into a boiler room which was not connected to the alarm system.  They waited overnight, and when the staff arrived they pounced and forced them to open the safes.  O'Connor was dramatically under insured and it forced them to reorganize with the loss of over 100 jobs.

The General was gunned down by the IRA in 1994 and  Jim confided that when he heard the news on his car radio he pulled over and "had himself a smile."

In 1998 a movie, The General, was released about the nefarious life of Dublin crime boss, Martin Cahill.  Jim didn't appreciate any notoriety for Cahill and refused when asked if O'Connor Jewelry, the site of the robbery, could be used in the movie.

After the theft, Jim took over his father's business, re-branding it James S. O'Connor Jewelers.  O'Connor produced a quality product, but their market share was eroding mainly due to their long turnaround time.   Not wanting to encourage another thief, O'Connor kept a minimal amount of precious metal, gems and finished product in stock; everything became made to order and the wait times for his jewelry became a two month endeavor.  Unfortunately this practice resulted in many lost sales.   On more than one occasion wedding bands didn't arrive in time for the ceremony.   Naturally, his customers, The Irish Gift House included, gravitated toward other suppliers of Irish jewelry who offered weekly shipments.
    
Sadly Jim passed away around 2005 and O'Connor Jewelry went into liquidation a couple of years later.

O'Connor didn't embrace the internet age and until now we never added our stock of O'Connor Jewelry to our site, www.theirishgifthouse.com.  If you would like to take a look at what is probably the largest collection of O'Connor Jewelry in the world, we have finally published around 100 pieces; see them all in our New Irish Gifts section.