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City Beat: What's Irish about a Hollywood mini-mall?

February 16, 2013 |  8:00 am

Irish

There are no green rolling hills here, no thatched cottages or bogs. But the spirit of Ireland is alive and well in a Hollywood mini-mall.

The Irish Import Shop has been around for 50 years. In a little brown shopping center on Vine Street, it's wedged between a nail salon and a dry cleaner.  Other neighbors include check cashing business, a Subway, a tattoo parlor and a pawn shop.

But step inside the shop and you might just feel transported elsewhere.

Citybeat

Often, the owner, Anne Colburn, burns little dabs of peat -- so the shop smells like being home by the fire in Ireland. She's stocked the place with many Irish classics, kitschy and otherwise: hand-carved Celtic crosses, Claddagh rings, egg cups shaped like leprechaun hats, Aran sweaters, tweed caps from Donegal and heathery capes woven in Kerry. 

It's obviously the place to come for all things shamrocks on St. Paddy's Day.

But the biggest draw, Colburn says, is the northernmost aisle -- and not just for homesick Irish people. Brits, Australians, South Africans and people from the Caribbean visit this aisle, full of Irish and British sweets, biscuits and drinks. A freezer holds Irish sausage and rashers (bacon), as well as black and white pudding and frozen rounds of soda bread. 

People come for the favorite foods from home. But they stay to chat and reminisce, Colburn says. 

Read more about the Irish Import Shop as a home away from home here in my latest City Beat story.

And scroll down here to check out my photos of the shop in the visual reporter's notebook I sent out on Twitter:

 -- Nita Lelyveld

Follow City Beat on Twitter at @latimescitybeat and on Facebook. Send ideas for City Beat dispatches to nita.lelyveld@latimes.com.

Photo: Andrew MacNamara, originally from Dublin, Ireland, shops in the food aisle at the Irish Import Shop in Hollywood. (Katie Falkenberg / Los Angeles Times / January 30, 2013)

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