What should we get for the nice old lady who lives upstairs?
June 1, 2010 11:02 AM   Subscribe

We're going to Ireland in a few weeks and want to get a gift for the nice Irish-American woman who lives upstairs from us. Suggestions on what to get?

I've lived in this apartment for three years now, and we're moving out at the end of June. There's a nice old Irish-American woman (think old school Queens, NY) who lives a few flights up from us. She's always been nice to my girlfriend and I - stops by once in awhile just to chat, complain about the other neighbors, and so on. She made us soda bread on Saint Patrick's Day and whatnot. We want to get her something while we're in Ireland as a way of saying thank you and goodbye. Problem is, I'm coming up short on ideas. Anyone have any suggestions?
posted by gchucky to Human Relations (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Price range?

Did she grow up in Ireland? If so, a lot of times people miss food ingredients they can't buy here.

If not, maybe something more romantic/sentimental.

Does she still have an Irish family name, or know what region her family is from?
posted by Miko at 11:08 AM on June 1, 2010

When we were in Ireland, I brought back table linens for a couple people who sound like your neighbor. My mother continues to be upset that I didn't get her some. I also bought some fine wool scarves for some other people. And waterford crystal to complete some of our wedding stuff, but that was when the Lismore plant was still operating, which I understand it isn't anymore. And whisky, we brought back lots of whisky.
posted by dpx.mfx at 11:09 AM on June 1, 2010

Bewley's tea.
posted by princelyfox at 11:16 AM on June 1, 2010

Best answer: I think it depends on the personality of the woman you're buying for. Some people lovelovelove the touristy stuff, the chintzier the better (I had a work colleague like this once). If this is the case, and you wind up in Dublin (as I kind of assume you will), get yourself to O'Carrols on O'Connell street.

If her tastes run to something a bit more fancy, the Kilkenny Shop off Grafton street would be a good place to look.

If she's a music junkie like me, go to Claddagh Records in Temple Bar and get some recommendations of good trad recordings.

Or, if you'll be traipsing around the countryside, keep your eye peeled for little craft shops or (even better) artist communes where you could get something really unique. If you're in Galway area and have access to a car, go to Spiddeal. They have a great artist commune there with some fantastic shops.
posted by LN at 11:20 AM on June 1, 2010

Maybe some clotted cream or some kind of food item would be a good idea. It's tempting to recommend some crystal or linen, but older people tend to have a lot of "stuff" already.

If you really want to do something thoughtful, maybe find a way to get a good old-fashioned linen handkerchief or napkin(s), and them have them embroidered especially for her, maybe with her monogram, or maybe with a short, sweet message from you both, like "love from gchucky and chuckette" or "[heart] neighbors" under a house/home motif.

Bonus points if you can get something related to the specific _part_ of Ireland she's from.
posted by amtho at 11:36 AM on June 1, 2010

Response by poster: Honestly I don't know a whole lot about her. I'm almost positive she's lived in New York her whole life - certainly in her current apartment for at least forty years. (I've heard stories about how this neighborhood used to be.) Her last name is O'Connor, if that helps. I doubt she knows the region or something, but she could surprise me.

As to price range, hmm.. probably under $50 (40 euro)?
posted by gchucky at 11:39 AM on June 1, 2010

You can't go wrong with an Aran sweater. Or maybe an Irish mohair throw? Also, the linens suggestion is a good one.

Alternatively, just go to a distillery and get something premium and fancy. In the end, you can't go wrong with booze.
posted by teedee2000 at 11:43 AM on June 1, 2010

Belleek china.
posted by ShadePlant at 11:55 AM on June 1, 2010

Pretend that you are looking for tourist suggestions and ask her the one thing she misses from Ireland. Get her that.

If it's an experience, get her something related to it that has the same feeling.

Have fun!
posted by Lizsterr at 12:02 PM on June 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

And, duh, you could be more specific about it and ask her what she'd bring back if she could. That way you'd know exactly what you get.
posted by Lizsterr at 12:05 PM on June 1, 2010

Some nice pottery can go down well. There's lots to choose from.
posted by knapah at 12:10 PM on June 1, 2010

If she likes to read, something that isn't published in the States. Hodges Figgis is one of the best Dublin bookstores.
posted by brujita at 12:29 PM on June 1, 2010

Best answer: Bewley's tea, and an assortment of biscuits you've never seen in the US, which you pick up in the vast wonderland buscuit aisle here.

If you want to get more elborate than that, Dochara has an entire section on What to Buy. It's broken down by region so you know not to buy Aran sweaters in Dublin, for example, but rather in very specific stores from around the country with craft knitters.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:42 PM on June 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

If you happen to know if she's a practicing Catholic, you might consider a nice Irish rosary. My aunts and great-aunts always get a kick out of those.
posted by corey flood at 8:17 PM on June 1, 2010

Best answer: Just as a final follow-up to this: I ended up getting her a nice blanket in Spiddal (at Standun, if you care) - and she loved it.

Thanks to all for their help.
posted by gchucky at 9:02 PM on June 25, 2010

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