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Books > Culture > Crafts & Hobbies

The Irish tradition of globally recognized craftspeople and stellar handmade products goes back many centuries; Irish master crafters have established reputations as world-class providers of a wide range of traditional craft items, from porcelain and crystal to fine handknitting and jewelry.

Throughout Celtic countries such as Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, large numbers of craftspeople maintain studios and storefronts in which they pursue such time-honored traditional arts as basketmaking, harpmaking, glassblowing, lacemaking, metalworking, furniture-making, potting, quilting, woodcarving, thatching, textile manufacturing, weaving, knitting, and gold- and silversmithing. In many cases, these crafts and their requisite skills have been handed down from generation to generation for more than 200 years. As a nod to their Celtic heritage, many artisans choose to integrate Celtic symbols and art motifs –- such as the Celtic Knot, Celtic Cross and the Claddagh -- into the design of each piece.

When the Industrial Revolution arrived in Europe, many cottage industries and artisan studios languished as the pre-Revolution modes of production lost a little steam. More modern times have brought new interest in traditional Irish crafts, in addition to a widely accepted cultural imperative that endangered crafts skills and production methods must be studied, documented, and preserved. Thanks to the efforts of such preservationists, the crafts scene throughout Ireland remains vibrant and robust. has brought together a collection of the finest books in print covering the full spectrum of Irish and Celtic crafts. Categories are listed below. Lean back, browse, and enjoy!

Featured Item

Traditional Crafts of Ireland by David Shaw-SmithTraditional Crafts of Ireland

by David Shaw-Smith

For more than 40 years, David Shaw-Smith has traveled the length and breadth of Ireland to locate those well-out-of-the-way workshops where practitioners of old, new and emerging crafts live and toil. In all, Shaw-Smith describes the state of 48 Irish arts, organized into craft categories that include textiles, stonework, woodwork, leather, calligraphy, metalwork, ceramics, and glassware, plus willow, rush, and straw. Incredibly, each of these categories is a whole country mile wide; within woodwork, for example, you’ll find 10 crafts subcategories, including coopering and the manufacture of musical instruments from harps to uilleann pipes and violins. The writing is authoritative and comprehensive, and 677 illustrations and photos survey the crafts scene from top to bottom. Highly recommended.