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TUSTIN : Every Day Is a Wee Bit o’ Irish at Shop

St. Patrick’s Day on Thursday is that time when everyone wants a “wee bit o’ heaven” and to be Irish for a day.

But for Tom and Mary Kelly of Tustin, every day is St. Patty’s Day. At their gift shop on El Camino Real, the shamrocks never disappear.

Kelly’s Gift and Hobby Shop sells a variety of Irish products throughout the year, from food to clothes to jewelry to gifts. Little-known items such as shillelagh , a hammer-like device from a root of a tree that will bring luck, and walking sticks out of roots also are available.

“We just feel we like to share the spirit of Ireland in America,” said Tom Kelly, who is of Irish descent, as is his wife. They moved to California in the 1950s from Philadelphia and thought a store that specializes in Irish merchandise would be the best way to share their Irish roots with their 12 children.

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In addition, Tom Kelly said it was pretty smart to specialize in something to make their business different. He and his wife opened the shop in 1971.

“If you’re looking for anything Irish, this is the place to go,” said Vickie Hoegee of Newport Beach, who ordered wedding invitations for her daughter on Monday.

Another place to go is Rick Mowery’s store in Newport Beach.

When the leprechauns began disappearing from the shelves, Mowery knew it was that time of year again--the “wearing o’ the green” and feasting on corned beef and cabbage.

And when customers at his shop, Mr. D’s Fine Gifts and Collectibles, began wiping out his inventory of the figurines, he knew his customers wanted a little magic. The leprechauns, according to legend, can reveal a buried crock of gold to anyone who catches one.

The selection at Kelly’s is so big that Liz Capp, who was looking for greeting cards for a couple of friends, could not make up her mind what to get.

“I’m looking for something humorous, and it seems every card is funny,” Capp said.

A plateful of Irish cookies and a steaming cup of Irish tea are available to customers.

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“This is a fun place to come,” said Marilyn Marsh, a regular customer.


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