Irish dirt $ells in the U.S.
It’s a dirty business, but someone has to do it.
The Auld Sod Export Company has made it possible for Irish Americans who have never had the privilege of visiting the land of their ancestors to now own a slice of it.
That’s right, the Auld Sod Company is selling dirt from the land of Ireland, and it’s being snapped up.
In fact, the company participated in the St. Patrick’s Day QVC television special last month and sold out of all available stock of their Shamrock Gift Box in no time.
“We knew that we had created a range of products that had a special meaning to the Irish diaspora around the world, and our recent success with QVC confirms that,” says Michael Byers, sales and marketing director with the Auld Sod Export Company.
In addition to being beautifully presented, the company wants the products to be functional.
“The dirt is intended to be used to grow something special, be it Irish shamrocks or the customer’s favorite plants. This is why we supply the soil, the seeds and a planter with our exclusive Belleek bowl in our shamrock gift box,” says Byers.
Company director Pat Burke said he was unprepared for what was about to happen. “Irish dirt was an instant hit with the QVC audience, which is primarily Irish Americans on St. Patrick’s Day,” said Burke, a Co. Tipperary man with an agricultural science degree from University College Dublin.
Irish Dirt is the brainchild of a Co. Cork man by the name of Alan Jenkins, who told the Irish Voice back in 2007 that he set up the company so Irish immigrants could have the opportunity to own a piece of their homeland in their adopted country.
“The Irish immigrants were able to take schools, churches and sports with them when they emigrated but the one thing they couldn’t bring with them was mother earth, but now they can,” said Jenkins, who subsequently sold on the business to a conglomerate of investors.
The idea of the business came to Jenkins when he was visiting a friend in Florida in 1996. This friend, in passing, said to Jenkins, “The one thing these people (Irish immigrants) would give their right arm for is a drop of auld sod on their casket.”
Burke, who got involved with Jenkins in 2006, came up with a secret formula that allows the product to be exported into the U.S. and Canada.
Since the company’s inception it has shipped over $1 million worth of bags to the U.S. They now distribute to the U.S. and Canada through their distribution center in Ohio and other parts of the world.
The initial idea behind exporting the dirt was for people to use it to throw onto coffins of loved ones, but now it’s much bigger than that. People are now purchasing the dirt as gifts, soil to grow shrubs in their garden and much more. Some use it for good luck.
The Auld Sod Export Company is based in Cahir, Co. Tipperary. The company plans on expanding its product range in 2009 to reinforce this horticultural use, which is seen as an important part of the appeal.
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