The story of our company and of Official Irish Dirt started in response to requests from members of the Irish community in America for real Irish soil to use to commemorate or to mark a special occasion or event – such as a birth, a wedding, christening, house move, funeral or simply to use to grow favourite plants as a reminder of home.
As requests became more frequent, we investigated means to legitimately import Irish dirt into North America and certain other countries with connections to Ireland which has resulted in the company patenting a production process to produce real Irish dirt which meets and exceeds the importation requirements of national authorities including the US Department of Agriculture.
Where did the term 'the auld sod' come from?
Éire, the old country, the emerald isle, the auld sod, Ireland is a country that goes by many names.
‘The auld sod’ is an affectionate term, used when Irish people refer to the land of their birth. “Auld” being an old language version of the English word “Old”.
In a time when land was more valuable than life, and turf was a priceless commodity, the inhabitants of 19th century rural Ireland depended heavily on the land for a living. Turf was cut, stacked in ricks to dry and stored for heating fuel over the winter. A piece of turf came to be known as a ‘sod’ of turf. The term ‘sod’ also came to be used when talking about grass on the bog – a sod of grass. So sod equated to land.
When the Great Famine unleashed its misery in 1845, millions of Irish were forced to leave their native shores in the years that followed and sail to America, the new country. With little or no possessions to call their own, most treasured amongst their belongings was a precious sod of turf. A tangible reminder of their old existence, their old life, their old country, the auld sod.
Today. part of being Irish in America is nostalgia for the “Old Sod”. The rich dark dirt holds centuries of farming, famine and fighting. For millions of emigrants and generations of descendants, it is the essence of their heritage; the subject of great poets; the wealth of Irish Kings!
Why Irish Dirt?
The idea of having a piece of a far off place is not new but being able to have a real piece of Ireland to own and to use is. Have you ever brought back a physical part of a special place to remind you of good times, an event, a belonging? Do you have a bowl of sea shells or sand from that far off beach you once visited to reminisce of your connection to that place? Have you ever longed to visit the country of your heritage and of your forebears – the place which meant so much to your ancestors- the beautiful Emerald Isle which is Ireland? Have you wondered what that country looks like, smells like, feels like? Well now you don’t have to incur the cost to go there or wait to find out as Ireland based The Auld Sod Export Company has made it possible for you to own a piece of the Emerald Isle no matter how far from Ireland you may be.
What can be a stronger demonstration of your Irish heritage than to have a real piece of the country in your home or garden and to use it to grow a “Living Heritage” to continually brighten your days, to bring you luck and to remind you of that far off place … And when you run out, we can send plenty more to you in just a few days direct from our North American distribution center in Williston, Vermont.
Inspired by the heritage and land of Ireland, The Auld Sod Export Company creates distinctive, hand crafted Irish sourced products that evoke an emotional connection to the earth and the soil itself.
The company produces and markets its Irish soil products under its Official Irish Dirt brand. Our soil is sourced from sources approved by the Irish Department of Agriculture, processed in County Tipperary and packed in Ireland prior to being bulk shipped to our distribution center near Burlington, Vermont where all orders are processed and dispatched. We process the soil in accordance with our own patented process to ensure compliance with the importation requirements of both the Irish Department of Agriculture and those of the United States Department of Agriculture. All of our products carry the Guaranteed Irish symbol which confirms their authenticity as being produced and packaged in Ireland.
The company has focussed attention on producing products which the user can enjoy either for themselves or to give as a unique gift to a family member or friend – with or without Irish connections. Our products represent a small, simple way to regain the powerful mystical connection to Irish land, delighting the senses and the imagination. They encapsulate the essence of heritage and belonging to the Irish Diaspora, allowing them to feel a part of Ireland again. Our products are authentic, a genuine piece of Ireland and all are beautifully packaged and are affordably priced.
Our Partnership with
The bowl in our Shamrock Gift Box is made by Belleek Pottery in Co Fermanagh (actually it is right on the border between Co Donegal and Co Fermanagh) exclusively for us at Auld Sod Gifts.
All bowls are handcrafted by master craftsmen from the same material and in the same time honoured manner for over 150 years.
About Belleek - In 1849, John Caldwell had inherited the Castle Caldwell estate, which encompassed the village of Belleek. In the aftermath of the potato famine he sought to provide some form of employment for his tenants. An amateur mineralogist, he ordered a geological survey of his land. To his delight it revealed the necessary raw materials to make Pottery – not long after Belleek Pottery was born. Throughout the years, Belleek grew from producing mainly utilitarian earthenware to producing some of the finest parian china in the world. The company changed hands, expanded into several countries and was filling prestigious orders for Kings, Queens and Nobility. Queen Victoria and the Prince of Wales among them.
In 1990 the company changed hands again and the new management team rejuvenated the Belleek enterprise. Today the company employs over 600 people and owns such fine brands as Galway Crystal, Aynsley China and Donegal Parian China. When you are in Ireland, make this a destination. Take part in the factory tour, see where our products are made, enjoy a nice lunch and take in the heritage that is Belleek.
The Parian worker 1910. The same handmade techniques are still being used today.
All bowls carry the Belleek Stamp to Prove it was handmade in Belleek, CO. Donegal. Only items which have attained the highest quality standards receive this stamp.
The shamrocks on the side of the bowl are painted by hand – no two bowls are the same.
Belleek is world reknown for their emphasis on quality. Each piece is inspected by hand both before it is fired and after.