Stories of Galway: mishnóc

Walk into mishnóc and breathe in the heady scent of expensive, quality leather. It’s a luxury in itself, just to inhale that smell.

The shop is small in a cosy way. The owner, Pat Delaney, built floor to ceiling wooden shelving for displays; a red leather chair sits in the corner. On the shelves, the high gloss of Buffalo leather catches the soft light. The oiled leather bags have a vintage, not-of-this-age look to them. It feels partly like a show room of quality leather, and partly like a nice place to sit down and have a quiet glass of Jameson on the rocks. There’s a sense of classic luxury and quality, as well as comfort, and it’s a true testament to mishnóc as a shop and a people.

The shop was formerly known as “mala”, or “bag” in Irish. Now, the word “mishnóc” is an anglicisation of the Irish misneach, adapted to help tourists and non-Irish speakers pronounce it and recognise it as an Irish word. To all but the fluent Irish speaker, the meaning mightn’t come across — but it means “courage”. And that’s truly what mishnóc is about.

The founder of mishnóc, Pat Delaney, is originally from Athenry. He worked as a sales manager there, and as a taxi driver during Ireland’s recession. But he always liked selling things to people.

“I never liked the typical sales model – get the money in, think about the product later – but I still always liked sales,” Delaney says. It put him off and led him away from his manager position at Athenry.


During his time as a taxi driver, he started selling leather belts at markets around Ireland, and says that’s the kind of sales he’s interested in: providing a good product to good people. Once that started getting out of hand, Delaney turned his sights to bigger things.

When mishnóc started getting off the ground, he and his team travelled to Europe to speak with purveyors of leather. They looked at different styles, and found the kind of supplier that would give them products they were proud to bring home to the people of Ireland. They settled on Visconti, and built with them the kind of “meaningful relationship” that sets mishnóc aside from other stores of its eke. When mishnóc gets complaints that a strap on a bag is breaking prematurely, or the leather is wearing thin, Delaney can speak to the people at Visconti to work out the kinks together. Through feedback and communication, the products evolve naturally to become better, stronger, more functional.

It’s this kind of meaningful relationship that Delaney hopes to build with his customers as well. In a world where lowest price wins and half-price weekends bring in the customers, Delaney is turning to “old school values”. He guarantees a quality product at a good price. No games, no bait-and-switch. Just good old quality and accountability, which is a rare thing. Mishnóc’s return policy is a testament to that. Products are guaranteed for a year. “If you have a problem, we have a problem, and we like it that way. It helps to keep us on our game,” says Delaney.

Most of mishnóc’s business is conducted online; Delaney says they get a lot of business from working professionals in Dublin, and hope to make the jump across the country and open a shop there in the future. With the success of online sales, he said it would be easy  to close the shop in Galway. However, he feels that having a tangible presence and an accountability to his customers is essential to the kind of business and relationships he’s building. If someone has an issue with a product, they can come in and work it out face-to-face. If a customer feels squeamish about ordering something online, they can come into the shop and check out, in person, any product they find online.

“We want people to know that we’re here for the long haul, and you can trust us,” Delaney says.

What’s his favourite product? It’s the Hulk briefcase, an oiled leather beauty that I myself was eyeing as I wandered through the shop. With eleven delighted reviews on the site – “amazed by the quality of what I received” and “looks fantastic, highly functional” – there’s not a bad word to be said about it. Next in store for mishnóc is their iPhone case series, inspired by and designed in Galway… We’ll be snatching a few of those up and letting you know how we find them, so keep your eyes out for that.

For me, it’s just going to be a matter of cutting back on the pints and saving up a bit of cash to score myself a Hulk bag, and maybe a wallet to match. Or maybe putting it on my Christmas wish list.