Life & Times: Classic Irish design reimagined in style

Siobhan Quinn of Ballyboy Design. Photo: Michelle Ghee.
After working in the private sector for many years, Abbeylara woman Siobhán Quinn has finally “taken the plunge” as she says herself and set up her own business.

After working in the private sector for many years, Abbeylara woman Siobhán Quinn has finally “taken the plunge” as she says herself and set up her own business.

Having had an interest in fashion and in good quality materials, Siobhán’s eye for vintage style brought her on a path that would eventually lead to the creation of tweed capes and some wonderful accessories in the line of hats, gloves and jewelry.

Ballyboy Design showcased for the first time at the Dublin Horse Show back in June where there was much interest in the Longford woman’s design, a venture that has seen the savvy business woman scour the globe to source the very best of materials and designers.

And yet, having sourced her Irish tweed in Tipperary, it was her native county that was to throw up a huge portion of the talent she needed to get her home grown enterprise off the ground.

The maker of the capes comes from Aughnacliffe in the form of Ann O’Reilly and Wendy Louise Knight was chosen as one of the much need milliners.

Since last May, Siobhán has been busily putting the finishing touches to the introduction of her business and has recently launched the much anticipated website

“I decided to focus on Irish tweed and capes lined with silk,” the entrepreneur told the Leader this week.

“I sourced beautiful John Hanley tweed from Tipperary and started making prototypes last year; then I looked for people who would be able to bring my designs to fruition and I was lucky to find Ann O’Reilly in Aughnacliffe who was launching her new business at the time - ‘The Sewing Boutique’.

As her cape designs became a reality, a wonderful picture perfect style began to emerge and it wasn’t long before Siobhán realised that certain types of jewelry and hats as well as long vintage style gloves were needed to complete the look.

“I looked at how I could accessorise the cape,” she smiled as she spoke about her next move which was to commission a silversmith to make bracelets and Tara brooches based on the original styles and similar to that worn in mythological times.

These, it has to be said, are beautifully handcrafted pieces that certainly represent a bygone era and perhaps throw in a reminder of Cuchulain and the wonderful attire of that particular period in Irish history.

“I was very lucky at the Dublin Horse Show because I got great exposure there,” Siobhán continued.

“The capes can be worn dressy or casual so after some deliberations, I decided to commission Paula Rowan who is the most wonderful gloves designer, and I realised then what a wonderful compliment they were to the capes.”

Eventually she wants to supply the UK and American markets and with such wonderful creations on offer, it’s not hard to imagine a high demand overseas for the Abbeylara designer’s inspirational style.

The capes consist of three styles called Clifden, Connemara and Burren.

The colours reflecting the names - form deep violets and burnt oranges to the greenest of greens and most purple of blues - colours that trigger a reaction from within.

“They are investment pieces and that is what I believe is key to my product,”said Siobhán before adding that she was very grateful to Michael Nevin and Catherine Kane at Longford Enterprise Centre for all their support.

Siobhan is also registered with the Crafts Council of Ireland.

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See this week’s Life & times feature in the Longford Leader, where Cherche le Femme owner Sharon Devlin speaks about her passion for promoting breast cancer awareness.