Shopping in Dublin: Cleo

cleo - kildare street

Cleo is an independent shop, located on the ground floor of a Georgian town house on Dublin’s Kildare Street, that sells clothes and a range of gift items. Cleo specializes in clothes and hand-knits made from natural Irish fibres such as: wool, linen and tweed.

children's cloths at cleo

Unusually, among the roll call of Dublin’s independent shops, Cleo has been around for a very long time. It’s a family business that the late Kay Ryan, the grandmother of Sarah Joyce the current owner, established in 1936. Initially the shop sold children’s clothes but in the post-war years Sarah’s grandmother realized there was an increasing number of tourists, especially Americans, visiting Dublin and she started to stock hand-knitted sweaters from the Aran Islands for the new influx of visitors to buy as souvenirs of their visits to Ireland. In the seventy-six years of its existence the business has sailed through choppy economic times and various recessions but has survived and thrived.

cleo collage

Cleo features, as a place to shop in Dublin, in guide books to Ireland yet I suspect that there are many people living in Dublin who have never been in the shop. If you visit you might be tempted, following a cursory look around, to decide it’s not your type of shop. This would be an incredible shame as it’s a gem of a place where the stock is multi-layered and you really need to spend a bit of time taking it all in. There are clothes to suit all ages – the colourful children’s knitted items are especially delightful – and it’s a great place to pick up small unique hand-crafted gifts.

cushion and ipad cover collage

Sarah commissions a lot of Cleo’s stock from crafts people or small enterprises dotted about the country and the reminder she buys in from about sixteen designers including the Inis Meáin Knitwear Company and Glynis Roberts. The shop stocks: jumpers, scarves, skirts, blankets, capes, gloves, iPad covers, hats, bags, blouses, cushions, toys, Christmas decorations …

toys at cleo dublin

I only every write about shops that I truly like, they have to be places where I am prepared to put my money where my mouth is – by that I mean shops where I am so attracted by what they sell that I inevitably end up buying something. I bought a tweed and felt penguin when I was in Cleo a few weeks ago see here and yesterday I bought a felt Santa Claus to add to my Christmas decoration collection. I was very tempted by the buttons made from six thousand-year old bog oak – I resisted purely because I don’t have anything to sew them on to.

buttons made from bog oak

christmas decorations at cleo

I am passionate about independent retailers as I believe they add so much to Dublin’s retail landscape and I am also passionate about Irish craft. Cleo is a colourful blend of these twin passions.


Filed under Craft, Dublin, Shops/Shopping

14 responses to “Shopping in Dublin: Cleo

  1. I love this shop! I try to shop at independent retailers too, mainly because I was one for 20 years. I made most of the things in my shop myself and I know how difficult it can be to make it work.
    I will know where to go when I come to Dublin.

    • I love it too and I am sure I would have loved your shop if I had seen it especially as you made most of the things in the shop. I love handmade things they beat by a million miles mass produced item. I believe it so very important that craft skill are passed on to future generations. I hope you get to visit Dublin and Cleo one day soon and I hope you would get in touch.

  2. I love these sorts of shops, as you know, and could spend hours browsing through there. I’m sure I would find a reason to buy a ton of stuff for Christmas and then I’d want to keep it all to myself:) xx

    • Yes, these types of shops are great places to while away hours looking around. I so prefer, if possible, to buy something handmade. I nearly bought a lovely mulit-coloured scarf when I was there but it was just a little to long even when wrapped around (I am only 5′ 2″)!

  3. This is a shop where I would not be leaving empty handed for sure!

  4. Thank you for taking us with you on these excursions. I love all the details you share in the pictures.

  5. What a fab little shop – just as well it’s not too close to where I live! Definitely somewhere to check out when I make it to Dublin, thank you.

  6. I just googled Cleo to find their website link (I’m writing my own blog post about them) and found your site! Love, love your site! I also wrote about Bow, which was my other fav shop in Dublin– I think we have the same idea about independent shops. : )

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