INTERVIEW

My Tipperary Life with millinery and accessories designer Alison Roe

Niamh Dillon

Reporter:

Niamh Dillon

Email:

niamh.dillon@tipperarylive.ie

My Tipperary Life with millinery and accessories designer Alison Roe

Alison Roe with Una Healy, both pictured wearing designs from the Tipperary based milliner

Alison Roe qualified as a solicitor in 1996 and worked in general practice before deciding to change career course. Her lifelong love of creative design led her to the world of millinery and her business Alison Roe Millinery was born.

Based in Roscrea, Co. Tipperary, Alison designs and creates hats and headpieces for special occasions using traditional millinery techniques as well as running a successful hat-hire business.

What's your idea of a perfect day, or perfect weekend in Tipperary?

My life in Tipperary is very busy, juggling my time between being a mum of three and my business at The Coach House Studio. Driving children all over the county to matches etc. has been a great way to explore as I’m not a Tipperary native!

My idea of a perfect weekend is family time at home - I love to travel but there is nothing like the welcome feeling of driving down the avenue to our Tipperary farm. It’s where I am the happiest.

Who has made the greatest contribution to Tipperary in your lifetime - and why?

Tipperary is so synonymous with the bloodstock industry, that I would have to say John Magnier and Aidan O’Brien. What they have achieved all over the world from Coolmore and Ballydoyle is amazing.

What's your first tipperary memory?

My first real memory of the county is racing at Limerick Junction (Tipperary Racecourse). I am a qualified solicitor and was working in Ennis when I met my Tipperary man! Peter was manager of the track then and I only knew him a few weeks when he suggested that I bring a few friends racing.

Little did I know that years later, the county would be my home and I would be very immersed in the world of racing. I left the legal world and changed career to millinery design after having children and very many racing ladies now visit my studio to finish off their racing outfits with a Tipperary hat!

What's your favourite part of the county - and why?

My favourite spot is where I live and work, in the north of the county in the village of Knock, near Roscrea. My Coach House Studio is located on the family farm amid rolling landscape and yet within easy travelling distance of anywhere as we are not far from the M7.

What do you think gives Tipperary its unique identity?

For me, it is the gorgeous landscape and the amazing colours from the different greens of the pastures to the fabulous heathers and the browns of the bogs. There’s no shortage of inspiration for my designs and I particularly love working with Irish tweeds which I feel really reflect our natural heritage.

Do you have a favourite local writer or author?

Ironically, despite having spent years as a solicitor where reading was very much part of my day, I don’t read very often now. I think I use the other side of my brain in my second career as a designer and now think in terms of colours and pictures!

What's the biggest challenge facing the county today?

With the bypass and waning passing traffic, so many businesses in my local town of Roscrea have closed, with people travelling to larger centres to shop. This is probably true of many of the county’s smaller towns. In contrast to that, my business is based in a rural area with no high street shopfront and yet it is thriving thanks to an online presence and word of mouth, which in turn drives it as a destination for my customers.

The attraction of larger retail centres and the increase in online shopping is a huge challenge for businesses in small towns.

If you had the power to change one thing in, or about Tipperary, what would it be?

There really isn’t anything I’d change but if I had a magic wand I would love less rain!

For more information on Alison Roe visit alisonroe.ie or @alisonroemillinery on Facebook/ Instagram