Irish Brigade gifts at Antietam's gift shop
I was watching a re-run of Fág an Bealach on the Irish language channel TG4 the other night (Links here still work if you want to watch) when I remembered something about Antietam that really surprised me, particularly as compared with Gettysburg.

As I mentioned, the gift shop at Gettysburg is massive, a Wal-mart of Civil War merchandise. Antietam's, by comparison, is a broom closet.

Still, Antietam has one line of gifts that Gettysburg does not – Irish Brigade merchandise. Lots of it. Books, tee shirts, baseball caps, posters, flags, pencils and other knickknacks all to do with the Irish Brigade.

I asked the woman at the register how popular was the Irish Brigade stuff and she said, "Very. People come from far away to buy the Irish Brigade gifts." My memory's not clear now, but I'm pretty sure she said it was the most popular range of goods in the store.

One purchase I made was a bag of soldiers for my son. Irish Brigade toy soldiers, which may well be unique. Why? Well they may be the only Irish toy soldiers you can get. I don't know what it's like in the rest of Ireland, but all the toy soldiers available in the toy stores near where I live American, British or generic/nondescript soldiers.

So now my son has an "Irish army" with an Irish Brigade flag, General Thomas F Meagher and even Fr. Corby, the "Fighting Chaplain." These are probably the only toy soldiers ever made with a chaplain.

They have a web site, but if you're interested in Irish Brigade gifts it might be worth giving them a call because there were more products in their store than they have in their Irish Brigade list on their web site. The woman I spoke to was friendly and very helpful. Could be a good idea for an unusual Christmas present.