The Irish are a proud people, as Pat Griffith, owner of Shamrock Shanty, will attest. Her Irish-themed shop, now in its third year at the Ocean Bay Plaza in Fenwick Island, remains open year-round, but it’s the time from late February through early March that yields the most sales. As March 17 barrels down upon us, Griffith reminds us that, “On St. Patrick’s Day, we’re all a little Irish.”
From apparel and jewelry to books and greeting cards to numerous collectibles with Irish proverbs and sayings, Shamrock Shanty boasts just about everything with a Gaelic influence, even down to the novelty items, which have become a huge hit for the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.
“People love coming in to get anything that is flashy or blinks,” said Griffith. “Necklaces and rings that light up, sequined vests and the shamrock sunglasses – people are always drawn to the shamrocks.”
But the Shamrock Shanty boasts plenty more than that. Cowboy hats featuring the Irish flag’s colors have become some of the new hot items in the store, while the authentic Irish sweaters are also a popular purchase. T-shirts bearing the seal of the Irish National Police and the Dublin Firefighting Brigade are also new this year.
As far as the jewelry selection goes, there are many traditional symbols that draw buyers in.
“Shamrock and claddagh rings and earrings are always a favorite,” said Griffith, “but a lot of them have run their course. People are really into the Celtic symbols nowadays, like the cross or the trinity knot. There’s so much meaning behind them, and what’s nice about them is you don’t need to be Irish to appreciate them.”
Shamrock Shanty even features perfumes and colognes straight from Ireland.
Wall decals, kitchenwares and trinkets reiterate the carefree and good-fortune sayings that the Irish have lived by for generations.
“That’s the blarney,” Griffith noted, citing the tradition of speaking in wit or with flattery and coaxing talk, something (besides a love of the drink) for which the Irish have become well-known.
Griffith herself is from a long line of Irish descendants – her mother, a McGee.
“My great-grandfather came over from Ireland and settled in Pennsylvania,” she noted.
Her parents, proud of their roots, opened and operated an Irish-themed gift store in West Ocean City, Md., for 14 years, until it moved to 143rd Street in North Ocean City. When that property was sold about three years ago, the Shamrock Shanty found its niche in Fenwick Island, roughly.
Although the St. Patrick’s Day holiday is traditionally a religious one in Ireland, there is a newfound appreciation for revelry that is catching on there from the Americanized celebration.
“This year will mark the second-annual St. Patrick’s Day parade in Dublin,” said Griffith. “It’s something they’ve never really celebrated before, the way we think of the holiday. But people are very proud of their Irish roots and heritage, and it’s something to be shared with everybody.”
As she noted, stores that cater to Irish traditions and culture are few and far between.
“You don’t see too many shops that carry purely Irish-influenced items,” she said. “There are stores that have some Irish things around the holiday, but none in the area like this.”
Easton, Md., and Wilmington, Del., are the two nearest locations with Irish shops.
“It’s hard to come by shops of other nationalities,” she added. “You don’t often find a store of Italian products. You have restaurants, but the Irish are very proud of who they are. Even the younger ones are getting into the heritage. It’s always great to see that.”
Shamrock Shanty, located in Fenwick Island’s Ocean Bay Plaza, along Coastal Highway, just down from Jimmy’s Kitchen, is open throughout the week and on weekends, but with limited help in the store, hours vary. Stop by or call (302) 537-2220 for more information, including hours.