You may not be aware of it, but Ireland’s toy industry is flourishing. Exciting ideas from risk-taking individuals – often without prior business experience – has seen the Irish market flood with uniquely homegrown toys. Here, we present you with a list of Irish toy makers, you might not yet have heard of, whose collective work accurately captures the marriage of traditional craft and new world innovation of present-day Ireland. The results make for a truly exceptional group of succinctly Irish toys which should be your first stop for Christmas gifts in 2018!
Founder Ian Harkin sold his London home to make his vision of ‘real dolls for real kids’ a reality for children who might be negatively influenced by more adult themed dolls which dominated the market. Based in Donegal, Lottie Dolls was launched in 2012 to an overwhelmingly positive response from parents and kids who couldn’t help but agree. Lottie Dolls now sells in over thirty-five countries worldwide.
Notable product: Lottie Tree house
This Wicklow based company was founded in 2014 by Irish architect Damien Murtagh with a view to bringing the fun and creativity of architecture to children. Dubbed the “millennials answer to Lego”, Arckit allows you to follow the included blueprints or create innovative designs from your own imagination.
Founded in 2012 by entrepreneur John Joyce, this Dublin company is now the third biggest wheeled toy producer in the world. With a range of bikes and scooters that were designed with input from scientists in universities in the US and Ireland, Yvolution has made their mission "to inspire and develop the kids of today through activity and motion".
Creating a stir at their 2015 County Offaly launch, The Field began as a father’s gift to his son who had wanted somewhere to graze his collection of farm animals. Quickly growing in popularity, Padraic Cuddy’s creation “opens the gate to imagination” by presenting the child with a durable model toy field which will occupy him or her with infinite scenarios for play.
Bursting with colour and fun, Christina Sanne’s SockDogs began as a tribute to the newest member of her family, a red setter named Rufus. What followed was a collection of traditionally crafted SockAnimals quickly evolved into a very successful business which Christina continues to run alongside a small group of helpers from her Dublin home.
The idea for an Irish version of the popular South African board game occurred during a phone call between two Irish friends, Greg Dooley and Liam Ryan. Under the company name of Woodland Games, the pair, alongside the original inventor of the game, Calie Esterhuyse, carried out extensive market research before releasing the game in November 2010. Easy to play and huge fun, 30 Seconds is now widely stocked in the UK and Ireland.
A lifetime hobby became a thriving business for carpenter Andy Tynan who began making rocking horses from his County Offaly workshop. With each horse taking eighty hours and made using locally sourced material, Celtic Rocking Horses make a truly outstanding addition to any toy collection.
Specialising in runbikes, Ro Óg founder Michael Whyte scribbled his idea for a new kind of children’s toy while on holiday in Spain. Producing high quality timber products that stand the test of time, Michael runs his business out of County Cork. Ro Óg products, while being hugely fun for kids, are also to be found in physio and occupational therapist’s treatment rooms.
Credited with breathing fresh life into the teddy bear industry is artist and filmmaker Shane Sutton hatched his plan for a range of robot teddy bears from an oil painting he finished in 2010. Realising he had the potential for a great new approach to teddy bear manufacture and something which would excite generation alpha, Shane founded TeddyBot. TeddyBot’s mission is to engage children actively with the arts and sciences in a fun and innovative way.
Since its launch in August 2013, the Irish Fairy Door Company has gone on to sell over half a million products in Ireland and worldwide. Created at a kitchen table in Dublin by couple Niamh Sherwin and her husband Oisin and their childhood friends Aoife and Gavin, Irish fairy doors are a range of intricately decorated fairy doors which help relocate fairies into gardens and homes all over the world.
With his son Conan fulfilling the role of chief product tester, Derrick Bell founded Toby Wagons in 2012 upon realising that there was a clear gap in the Irish and UK market for a pull along wagon. Improving upon the traditional toy by adding wooden sides for carrying capacity and industrial wheels to ensure the wagon could be pulled over every terrain has seen the carts feature on the Late Late Toy Show and soar in popularity across Europe.
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