1 Do you remember what you spent your first ever pay cheque on? I remember well: my first pay cheque was spent on clothes! I have a great love for fashion and as all our clothes were made at home, it was a real treat to be able to buy myself something off the rack.

2 Why did you decide to set up your own curtain business? From a very early age I had a great interest in interior design, art and colour. I had a particular flair for window design. This flourished after my first job in the curtain department in Brown Thomas. I set the business up over 40 years ago. I always had the desire to own my own business. We were raised on a traditional farm in Co Limerick; looking on at my parents managing and running their own farm instilled a belief in me that I could own my business. Growing up I saw both my mother and grandmother regularly knit and sew. These were life lessons and traditions that have stayed with me to this day.

3 What has been the biggest challenge in running your business to date? Over the 40 years I have faced many challenges in the business. There were three very big recessions and a pandemic most recently. We are extremely lucky with the team of people that we have working for us. The team has grown drastically over the last number of years, and their particular skillset has meant that Curtains Direct can diversify and continue our growth, enabling us to adapt to any situation. One of our most recent challenges is finding interior designers to come on board.

4 What makes Curtains Direct so unique in Ireland? We have an amazing team of interior designers who offer their expert advice to all our clients. Curtains Direct offer a complimentary in-home consultation. This enables us to showcase our complete collection of fabrics and products. We offer a complete service from consultation to manufacturing to installation of the window dressing. We have one of the largest manufacturing facilities in Ireland, where we have a skilled team of seamstresses. We serve both the domestic and contracts markets in Ireland.

5 What has been your quirkiest commission to date? We get many a quirky request. Some of our most recent were from a neighbour who

asked for curtains for his horse truck and then a complete home renovation where we installed home cinema room curtains! As our curtains are custom made, we are able to rise to any of these challenges.

6 What trends are you seeing at the moment? We have seen an immense change in trends over the last number of years. So many of the new builds have picture windows, Apex windows and wall to wall glass. Motorisation seems to be the way forward for window dressings, from blinds to curtain tracks.

Home hubs play a major part in people’s lives, like Siri and Google. All our motorised products can be operated through these smart systems. Unlined voiles with a wave heading are a very contemporary style, which work well in these homes.

Trims and borders- especially on Roman blinds- add a new dimension to a window dressing and really add a fabulous look to a leading edge of a curtain.

As a business we have taken steps to improve our carbon footprint. Sustainable fabrics are an option that we are now offering to our clients.

7 What has been the best piece of advice you have received in business? I started to work with accountants/mentors a number of years ago. The best advice that they gave me at that time was to not fear progression and to bring on a younger perspective in to the business. This meant that Curtains Direct could grow and diversify. From here, my son Liam came on board and we operate Curtains Direct as a partnership now. Liam came on board with his own skill set, in particular the financial side of things. He brought a fresh outlook to the business, which continued to help the business grow and develop. This was really important as we realised the potential for the business and its future.

8 What well known person do you look up to and why? I love hurling! I have great admiration for our fantastic Limerick hurling team and I admire John Kiely and his leadership skills.

9 How do you unwind? While I really enjoy reading - mostly easy reading and the newspapers - my favourite pastime is listening to The Business on a Saturday morning, and Brendan O’Connor on a Sunday on RTÉ Radio 1. Travel is a big part of our lives so we listen to a lot of travel podcasts and watch YouTube channels.

10 What five people, living or deceased, would you invite to your dream dinner party and why? My parents have both passed: they are the first people I would invite as these are the people who moulded me into who I am today and always gave me so much encouragement.

Next, I would ask Vicky Phelan for what she has done for women in Ireland. She is incredible.

I would also love to have Joe Dolan over for his music. I have such great memories of him growing up, I hope he would sing for us all after dinner!

Finally, I would have Maeve Binchy. My love of books has come from her and she instilled a love of reading in me.

For further information, visit www.curtainsdirect.ie