A new website launched by Dundalk man Paddy Casey was inspired by the global lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Paddy's friend was due to return home from New York to celebrate his 30th birthday in April, a plan foiled by travel restrictions worldwide. If his friend couldn't come to Ireland, Paddy thought, he'd send Ireland to him.
"I knew he was disappointed not to make it home and that he was a wee bit homesick," says Paddy, who also runs several other businesses in the town. "I spent hours online looking for a suitable present to send him to cheer him up and remind him of home. I couldn't find anything though. So, I packed up a box with the things I knew he missed most and posted it off."
This pack of Irish goodies was the inspiration for the Homesick Hamper, one of the initial products launched by the new Irishify.com site. It contains a myriad of Irish products that the over 1.5 million Irish-born people living abroad yearn for most. With many of those unlikely to make it home this year due to the current global situation, it may be the only taste of Ireland they'll get this year. The site also offers several other packs to the Irish diaspora, including the Saucy Hamper, the Hungover Hamper and the Teabagged Hamper.
Furthermore, it is another offering that is already causing plenty of interest. "I knew my pal was also missing Friday nights in Oriel so I got a couple of Dundalk players to record a personalised video message for him. He absolutely loved it and played it 14 times - one for each league title," laughs Paddy. "He said it was an amazing present, so it got me thinking about other Irish sportspeople and celebrities people would love to receive personalised videos from."
The site has since signed up almost 100 well-known Irish faces, including dozens of current and former Irish footballers, League of Ireland stars, comedians, TV stars, musicians and other sportsmen and women.
"The interest so far has been phenomenal. Lots of people have said the videos are perfect for weddings, birthdays and all sorts of special occasions," comments Paddy. "We've had celebrities beginning to get in touch with us to get added to the platform, so we hope to have a few hundred on-board in the not too distant future."
Irishify.com is now officially open.