Hello I’m Grainne McGarvey and welcome to my column which spots local hidden gems from the world of beauty, health, fashion, tourism and hospitality. I will have my ear to the ground (quite literally) to keep you up to date about the new or interesting products and services from our neck of the woods. If you know one – get in touch on twitter @grainnemcgarvey or email firstname.lastname@example.org
I don’t think I could ever be accused of being a shrinking violet when it comes to fashion – bigger, bolder and brighter has also been my motto. The summer season brings with it the opportunity to get glammed up and if you see me at a wedding or the races, no doubt I’ll be finishing off my outfit with a jazzy little number on my head.
I have been wearing headpieces designed by a South Armagh milliner for years, and as she is now opening new premises, I thought it was only fair that I share this hidden gem with the lovely readers of Belfast Times.
Millinery by Mairead is owned by Mairead Traynor and she has been working (quite literally) off her kitchen table creating bespoke and rental headpieces for five years. She has been lucky enough to turn her hobby into a business, and due to customer demand, she has just opened her flagship boutique in Silverbridge, County Armagh.
I’m very picky, so won’t wear anything that isn’t intricate, unique and head-turning, but what keeps me coming back is the care that Mairead puts into creating each one. Picture the scene – you’re mother of the bride/bride/wedding guest and you have just bought the dress of your dreams, but you have searched high and low to get a headpiece that is the exact match. In my opinion it is virtually impossible to buy something off the peg that will be the same shade as your dress – cue Mairead to the rescue! She works tirelessly to match up your dress exactly to a bespoke hat and can include embellishments, dye the fabric to match, sew on feathers, bells or whistles – whatever you want for your own individual creation. You probably think that this will cost a fortune, but the reality is a bespoke piece starts at £75 (and can go up to £200 depending on the intricacy). However, if like me you are more of a ‘wear it once, never to be seen in it again’ kind of girl, then you can opt for a rental piece – they cost approximately £25-£35 and come in all shapes, colours and sizes.
Yes, yes it’s clear that I’m a big fan, but don’t just take my word for it – Mairead has customers coming regularly from Derry to Dublin. She has been lucky to create pieces for the Rose of Tralee contestants and her creations have been placed in best dressed competitions at some of the country’s leading racing festivals.
In her new boutique you will have the chance to try on pieces at your leisure, and although making an advance booking will give you more time with her, Mairead also welcomes walk-ins. If you don’t think you can make it to Silverbridge, she is also stocking her pieces in Hillsborough’s Pettiocoat Lane (@PettiocoatLaneBB), and Lily Pink in Markethill (facebook.com/lilypink) – if you find the dress here, she will make the headpiece to match.
As you can see from this – she’s a woman in demand and I’m starting to worry that she won’t have any free time to make me something! My advice is to give yourself about six weeks before your event if you want a bespoke piece and make sure you bring your dress with you to give her a better feel for what you require.
We all want to stand out at a special occasion and with one of Mairead’s little beauties on your head you will be the envy of all the guests. My only health warning is if you’re going to a wedding it’s probably best to keep the dress simple, so not to upstage the bride – after all we don’t want to risk handbags, or in this case headpieces at dawn.
Contact Number: 02830 861650