Joe Barrato. Garfinckel's executive, was wearing green socks and a shamrock stickpin: other personnel and sales staff were in green dresses, ties or shirts.

It was the kickoff to Garfinckel's two-week salute to Ircland yesterday.

Blarney water was mixed with Washington's own in a fountain on the first floor, into which guests could toss the Irish pennies offered to them. A bagpiper. Irish dancers, and a painted street scene of stote fronts and saloons on the main floor provieded the backdrop for merchandise selected or customeproduced for Garfinckel's in Ireland.

"It just seemed the right time for tweed jackets, Irish sweaters and the whole concept of casual dressing," explained Hanne Merriman, the store's executive vice president, who said that Garfinckel's has spent well over $1 million in Ireland for the promotion.

Irish fashions by Sybil Connolly. Mary O-Donnell, Donald Davies and paul Costelloe; Waterford crystal: Belleek porcelain: and Avoca handwoven woolens are among the offerings. An antique silver teapot, circa 1796, with a price tag of $3,000, is the most expensive item for sale. Already a swift seller, according to Barrato, are the small tweedy bow ties at $6.50. "We thought we were bringing them in just for fun but they have been selling very fast," he said.

Store events for the two weeks will mix fashion and Irish culture. Peter Brennan, a potter involved in the irish craft revival will demonstrate pottery making and Eileen O'Casy, widow of the late playwright Sean O'Casey will present selections next week from the operatic version of her husband's drama. "The Plough and the Stars, along with composer Elie Sigmeister.

Garfinckel's took 12 people to Ireland for 10 days to produce the current Christmas catalogue. The four models brought from the United States were supplemented with Irish children enlisted on the street ( paid with the clothes they modeled); and at least one young Irishman was tapped for a modeling job straight from a pub.

At breakfast yesterday morning 60 guests including Irish ambassador Sean Donlon and Mrs. Thomas P.O'Neill Nipped Guinness stout and nibbled on Irish salmon and fresh strawherries - following a tour of the store.

Although the imported shamrocks refused to grow in the public relations office, it was the top of the morning for everything else.