I recently returned from a trip to the UK with a mind overflowing with lovely memories and bags overflowing with lovely souvenirs: mostly books, because that’s how I roll, but also quite a few niche fragrances that are hard or impossible to find in the U.S. I bought some great ones in the lovely fragrance department of Brown Thomas, a department store in Dublin, but I still wanted something actually made in Ireland. Dublin Airport to the rescue! While browsing in the House of Ireland boutique for some last-minute gifts for friends and family, I found some scents by Fragrances of Ireland, which are made in County Wicklow. Which one to choose? I tested Connemara and Innisfree and bought the latter.
The fragrance is named after the famous poem by W.B. Yeats, possibly Ireland’s greatest poet, titled “The Lake Isle of Innisfree.”
I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;
Nine bean rows will I have there, a hive for the honey bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade
And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet’s wings
I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements gray,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.
W.B. Yeats, 1888
The eau de parfum Innisfree has top notes of lily-of-the-valley, peach, blackcurrant, apricot, lemon, bergamot and lavender. The lavender is grown in the company’s own lavender fields in County Wicklow, as described and pictured by Patrick Comerford in his blog.
Middle notes are jasmine, rose and iris; base notes are sandalwood, cedar and musk. The opening is a delicious, somewhat soapy mix of lavender, muguet and fruity notes. I can’t really pick out the individual fruits; they combine in something that is more like a summer fruit salad! They add a soft, refreshing tone to the lavender, which is quite strong, and the muguet, which is quite green. Very nice!
As it dries down, the fruitiness fades and the florals take front stage. The lavender is still strong but now I can smell the jasmine, iris and rose. Still a bit soapy but in the nicest way if you like florals. It smells very fresh and, as one Fragrantica commenter said, like “flowers and honey”. Just a touch of wildflower honey, though, this is not a sweet or gourmand fragrance.
The base notes are not powerful but just enough to anchor all the fruits and flowers with some earthiness. Well done, Fragrances of Ireland! I’m very happy to have this souvenir of your lovely country.