Friday, December 23, 2016

Shop local this Christmas

It's that time of year again when the Christmas shopping hits the top level of everyone's daily lists, writes Brian Byrne. And again, we encourage people to shop locally, help keep your local businesses and friends in business. This page will be added to regularly through the season — there's no charge for the mention, and if you have something to tell us about, email the Diary.

The Vincent's shop is always a treasure chest worth rummaging in, with only the best of quality pre-owned goods. And if you're concerned that you might run out of reading material over Christmas, then take a little time to browse through the books section.

The Valu€ Zone is another one of those places where you'll find not just what you're looking for, but also things that you might not be expecting. Meantime, though, seasonal needs like Christmas decorations, cribs, cards, and stocking fillers are just a small part of the good value stacked on the shop's shelves. Think of it too for a wide selection of photo frames, stationery, and those all important batteries. Lots more, go in and browse before you try outside of town.

Downtown in An Tearmann they carry a range of select gifts for all ages and both genders, as well as a small but nice range of Christmas cards. Wooden toys and ornaments are a speciality here, while the mobiles made of glass and wood and gentle textiles are always worth a browse. And don't forget the Manna organic shop at the back, where Pauline and Sheedhna will always provide a big welcome.

One of the nicer things about Christmas is sitting at home with family and friends, maybe in front of a real fire, with seasonal snacks and a convivial drink. All you need in wines, beers, sherries and spirits is to hand in CarryOut in Market Square, where Paddy Nugent and family have best value in town to help a quiet celebration of the season.

Jane Russell in the Link Park has established her handmade sausage and bacon products as among the best in the land, gracing the tables of the region's top restaurants and in a wide range of independent and national chain outlets. The factory shop is now open Wednesday to Friday 10am-4pm so drop in and get some great sausages, dry cure rashers and fresh blood black pudding at wholesale prices. In addition to classic products, there's a new Dinner Range of handmade sausages to mouth-watering recipes, including Roast Garlic & Red Wine, Toasted Fennel & Chili Flakes, and Apple & Craft Irish Cider. Just the thing to make Christmas a little different, and most acceptable presents along with, say, a good red wine.

Who doesn't love a few flowers at Christmas, and especially if they have been put together in a personal bouquet of just what the recipient wants? Well, for that very personal touch for a loved one this year, contact Catherine Mulrennan's Kildare Flowers. She has been designing floral arrangement for all occasions in Kilcullen and the wider area for a long time now. Based in Kinneagh, she'll take orders on 086 3275668, or 045 481092. If you don't know exactly what you need, she'll advise.

Though his Clarkes Menswear shop isn't actually in Kilcullen, Vivian Clarke is a Kilcullen man through and through, and for a gift for the man in your life there's no better place to go. A Gift Voucher might well be the idea for those hard to buy for. Even if they're not in to buy on any given day, customers from over the years will always stop for a chat with Vivian when on their way up or down the street in Newbridge.

Another new business, by local woman Niamh O'Connor, offers an option for unusual Christmas presents as well as unique gifts for all occasions — her Curious Quirkes are framed caricatures and quirky pictures, available in An Tearmann, Laura's of Athgarvan, and on her Facebook page Curious Quirkes. There are Christmas cards available too.

With the long Christmas holiday looming, there's a lot of pressure on the ladies to have their hair in best shape, and among the local salons none is better known than Hair by Eilis, which is offering special deals for the season. Specialists in colour correction, and dealing with problems like hair breakage.

The J&A Shabby Chic store on Hillcrest led the charge towards the rebuilding of retail in that part of town. There's always something of interest in furniture, decorative and gift items, like the glass candle holders shown (above). Or maybe a gift token for one of Antoinette and Jennifer's workshops in upcycling tired furniture pieces? Autentico chalk paint & accessories stockist in Kildare with 160 colours to choose from, several finishes. Commission work is a huge part of the business. Workshops every Saturday from 10am-3.30pm. There's also an upholstery and carpentry service. Large selection gifts, lanterns, Homeland Irish made candles, frames, mirrors, Christmas decorations, gift vouchers, and more.

Down at The River Cafe, Noel and Katrina's order books are filling up fast for Christmas cakes, puddings and Yule logs. They're also stocking Sheridans Cheesmongers hampers, a great gift for those who like a special eating treat over the holiday season. And anyway, while you're in to order, a coffee and cake treat is well deserved.

It's hardly necessary to mention Nolans at all, so widespread is their fame for providing the best poultry and meats, not to mention the seriously individual deli items. But there's a special emphasis on Christmas with free range turkeys that have people queuing right along the street every Christmas Even when it comes to collection. Don't forget either the spiced beefoak smoked hams and — if you fancy something different on Christmas Day — free range chickensgeese duckspheasantsmallard. For after Christmas, it's when the delicacies come into their own, the home-made sausages, the puddingsrasherscheeses and smoked salmonHampers can also be made to order as presents.

Always a mouth-watering exercise looking at the Kalbarri Cookery School's Facebook page, Siobhan Murphy's classes are a superb way both to enjoy learning new kitchen tricks and having a good time with friends old and new. Check out what's upcoming and maybe book yourself or a loved one in for a class in the new year.

As we face the food and drink rush of Christmas and New Year, some will be wondering if they should be already preparing to do something about it all afterwards? The new No1 Fitness gym and fitness centre beside Bishop Rogan Park might be just the best idea. Now open just over a year, they've been very busy with Zumba classes, Functional TrainingIron Circuit TrainingCardio/Strength Training and more. Gift vouchers are available for the various activities. Phone 045 484935.

Kilcullen resident and jewellery craftsman Damian Dunne has a wide variety of interesting work his Newbridge shop that would make distinctive Christmas gifts. If you happen to be over there, look particularly at his fingerprint innovative items and his Celtic themes.

All the Christmas menus are operating in Kilcullen's various eateries, with really good value offers for small or larger groups who want to hold their pre-Christmas get-togethers. For the size of the town we have an amazing selection of bistros, food pubs and restaurants. Think Simply Devine (045 480775), Fallons (045 481063), Bardons (045 482286), and Walls of the Priory at Kilgowan (045 403355). Also our coffee shops for those less formal meet-ups, The Final FurlongAn Tearmann, and the River Cafe. And don't forget that a voucher towards dinner at any of the restaurants makes a very acceptable Christmas present.

The local chemist's shop has always been a traditional stop for the Christmas present, and our old favourite Berneys Chemists has its special Christmas Shop open once again this year. It's worth climbing the steps, because it makes it easy to see a variety of ideas for all in the family and friends outside it. Decorations, slippers for the kiddies, prints, and, of course, the usual selection of nice-smelling stuff.

Mouthwatering treats for those with a sweet tooth are always on sale in Armelles's Kitchen, and the seasonal offerings from Kenny and Armelle are nothing less than pure baking artistry. Now well established on Main Street, their extraordinary range of cakes and patisserie specialities are a joy to experience, and would make an intriguing and very acceptable gift for virtually anyone.

Nichola Kennedy Optometrist is asking have you stocked up on your contact lenses and solutions for over the Christmas season? For dry eye customers make sure to stock up on your lotions and potions to make sure your eyes get well looked after over the Christmas break. Eyebags make a great gift too, and there are other accessories for family and friends with glasses. And make a resolution to give yourself a new look with some snazzy new glasses in the new year. Nichola and her staff wish all their loyal customers a very happy Christmas and best wishes for 2017.

Local photographer Conor Williams has a special touch with local and abstract prints, and his work is available as unique and affordable Christmas gifts in An Tearmann, as well as Shellagh Na Gig in his native Cloughjordan. He's also offering gift vouchers for portrait sessions, individual photography lessons and a one-day photography course. Contact him on 086 8721707.

Since Shirley Kavanagh-Hallion opened her Secret Kloset Designer Outlet on Hillcrest, local ladies and others from much further have been making the trek to find her unique choices in style and fashion. In addition to the range of dresses, coats and other wear, there's a wide selection of interesting ladies' clothing accessories perfectly themed for the cooler weather of the season.

Animals First Veterinary Hospital is reminding owners that if anyone is looking to get their dogs groomed closer to Christmas please book now to avoid disappointment as they are already filling up quickly — 045 480478.

One of the newest businesses in town, Woodbine Books, has some ideas beyond just books, which might be useful as stocking fillers and more. A booklet called Instead Of A Card offers a Christmas series called The Twelve Poems Of Christmas with a selection of seasonal poems selected by Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy. There’s also a selection of very compact booklights, and various bookmarks and bookrests., and a bookrest which can be used to support a book, tablet or iPad. And more.

Nobody familiar with Kilcullen needs reminding that Ger's Fruit & Veg is arguably the best source of fresh stuff in the mid-Kildare area. More than 30 years in business, the shop will be offering all sorts of suitable produce through the Christmas season. But there are other goodies there too, including a wide range of traditional sweets, fruit hampers, and some excellent preserves. Lots to pick up for the table and as gifts.

Cliona Kelliher has always loved candles. The glow, the scents, the intimacy they offer in a place. And now she finds herself spreading the love, with candles she makes herself. Under the brand name Purity Belle, what started out as a way of recycling the ends of candles Cliona burned in her own home has now developed into a true cottage industry. The recycling process led to her seeking out more about the craft and science of candle making. Purity Belle is about quality, with a little dash of quirkiness. Pure Irish soy candles are made with love and care in Kilcullen. Cliona likes to reuse and up cycle, make the old into something new. Her candles are available to buy through or, direct from her site And her blog at is always worth a read.

One of only three Michelin-rated gastro pubs in Kildare, Fallons of Kilcullen is one of the most popular eateries in the region. With an excellent menu and service, where possible using locally-sourced produce, and a continental bistro ambience with a real fire centrepiece, it's one of those sometimes-necessary retreats from the hustle and bustle of the season. Gift vouchers are available and make very acceptable presents.

More local shopping ideas later. Keep coming back.