Cloak and Swagger: Irish Gifts for a Warm and Stylish Winter

Whether you are looking for something to bring some Celtic style to the colder months or need to find some amazing Irish gifts for her for Christmas, nothing makes braving the cold as stylish as a Celtic cloak or cape. Our ancestors did not spend their time in heated cars. They had to face the elements, and they found a way to do it beautifully and comfortably. From the early medieval period, they wore long, warm cloaks, and they fastened them with ornate metal brooches.

This is an age when we are more aware of the dangers of fast fashion and the need to make  sustainable choices when shopping. Buying a trendy coat that will look dated next winter just seems silly when you could instead embrace a style that has endured for centuries. A warm, classic cloak is an investment in style that will serve you for decades, whether you wear it daily all winter or save it for special occasions. And they feel amazing. Imagine the warmth of your favorite blanket and the swirling glamor of your best dress combined. You might start to hate summer after you wear an Irish cape.

The Irish started wearing cloaks before buttons; instead they fastened their cloaks with brooches. The brooches were round, and they had a long, straight pin that went through the middle. That design is now known as a Tara brooch, and replicas are extremely popular Irish gifts. They wore their cloaks over long, sleeveless tunics. Some, but not all, tribes wore pants.

The Tara Brooch Tradition

We know them as Tara brooches because of one jeweler’s flight of fancy. They don’t have any particular association with the Hill of Tara, seat of the ancient High Kings of Ireland. Archaeologists call them annular brooches.

While these brooches were once a wardrobe staple, indeed a necessity, they gradually disappeared after other methods for fastening clothing were developed. In 1850, a woman in County Meath found a stunning annular brooch. Where she found it is a matter of some debate, but its beauty is undisputed. Made of silver, it features gold filigree panels decorated with images of animals and triple spirals. It is studded with glass, amber and enamel.

The brooch was found during the Celtic Revival period, and the finder quickly sold it. It was resold and passed through the hands of a Dublin jeweler who dubbed it the Tara Brooch to link it to royalty and enhance its appeal. Today it is on display in the National Museum of Ireland, and jewelers have taken the basic concept to create their own beautiful Irish gifts.

An Irish cloak or cape is a stunning Christmas present for her if she lives where there are cold winters. It’s as practical as it is gorgeous. But she can wear a Tara brooch in any weather when she wants to add some timeless beauty to her look.