Walking through the door into the quaint, colorful shop, one message is made crystal-clear about Irish on Grand: it’s not just a store for traditional Irish garb, but rather, a home for a celebrated culture.
Maybe it’s the fact that the Grand Avenue mainstay is located inside a house. Perhaps it comes from the welcome greeting offered by the shop’s owners. It could even be the comfort in knowing that, much like a home, this store has hosted Saint Paul friends and families for almost three decades. That “home” feeling is ingrained in this cornerstone of Irish tradition in Saint Paul.
When owners Maeve O’Mara and Liam O’Neill took over Irish on Grand 14 years ago, they knew what traditional Irish culture meant to the area. Since then, the couple has worked tirelessly to make sure their shop, and their traditions, could grow with the passing time.
“Of course when you manage a shop as long as we have, you have to evolve and adapt,” O’Mara says. “We’ve made sure to make ourselves as accessible to our customers as possible throughout the years.”
That accessibility is a major contributor to Irish on Grand’s reputation as a beloved shop in the heart of the city. O’Mara and O’Neill pride themselves on taking the time to connect with their customers, telling them about their Irish upbringing in Cork, Ireland, as well as sharing knowledge of Irish fashion and imports.
“What really has set us apart over the years is the fact that we are Irish, born and raised,” O’Neill says. “We know our products and the traditions from which they came.”
While keeping contact with their suppliers overseas, the owners also take annual trips to Ireland. They moved to the United States in the late 1980s.
“We pretty much knew that this is something that we wanted to do for a long time,” O’Mara says. “We were happy to take over the business and make our own brand.”
One of the most recent developments at the shop is their online ordering system.
All of their merchandise is listed online for customers to browse and reserve, or have shipped. “The site is live, meaning what you see online is in the shop, unless otherwise specified,” O’Mara says. “This makes it all the easier for customers to have access to our complete inventory.”
Speaking of inventory, Irish on Grand’s spread of traditional Irish goods is wide-ranging. Irish clothing, glassware, literature, family crests, home décor, and delicious treats from Ireland are just some of the shop’s offerings.
When discussing the inventory, O’Mara draws specific attention to her favorite line of products. “If there’s one thing I try to point my customers toward, it’s certainly the jewelry,” she says. “Everything in this case is as authentic as can be.” The jewelry, much like everything else in the store, can transport the customer to a homey shop on the Irish countryside.
“That’s what we’re all about,” O’Neill says. “We want to share our knowledge of the Irish culture with customers.”