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Sybil Connolly Collection Irish fashion heritage and her 'phenomenal' influence in the world of fashion conserved at the Hunt Museum Sybil Connolly Collection Irish fashion heritage and her 'phenomenal' influence in the world of fashion conserved at the Hunt Museum


WATCH Hunt Museum raising funds to conserve ‘Irish Fashion heritage’ in the Sybil Connolly Collection



Hunt Museum raising funds to conserve Sybil Connolly’s ‘Irish fashion heritage’ and her ‘phenomenal’ influence in the world of fashion. Pictured are patrons admiring the work of Sybil Connolly at the recent ‘Convsersations with Designers’ event. Picture: Olena Oleksienko/ilovelimerick

Hunt Museum raising funds to conserve Sybil Connolly’s ‘Irish fashion heritage’ and her ‘phenomenal’ influence in the world of fashion

Hunt Museum raising funds
Edmund Shanahan, Chairperson Council of Irish Fashion Designers, Celia Holman Lee and Jill Cousins, CEO Hunt Museum pictured with pieces of Sybil’s clothing. Picture: Olena Oleksienko/ilovelimerick

The Hunt Museum is currently fundraising to preserve Irish fashion designer, Sybil Connolly’s archive collection and has called on the public for support in conserving 13 pieces in the museum’s collection.

The Hunt Museum is raising funds for the restoration and preservation of the Sybil Connolly Archive at the museum and since obtaining the collection, the museum has held fundraising events to support the collection.

With a goal of €25,000 set, Jill Cousins, CEO of the Hunt Museum explained the funding would go towards hiring a professional conservator, she told I Love Limerick the preservation of the collection is “very important” as one of the most important Irish fashion designers of the 1950’s.


Most recently the Hunt Museum held a ‘Conversations with Designers’ event which saw leading Irish fashion designers and others from the industry come together for a night of fashion, conversation, and celebration of Sybil Connolly in a bid to preserve the collection.

“She was a real entrepreneur and very famous in her time,” said the Hunt Museum CEO, continuing, “She was also very clever in her use of Irish fabrics, and keen on using Irish fabrics. She really tried very hard to promote Ireland and Irish design in the wider world.”

Some of the Hunt Museum collection includes Sybil Connolly’s clothes, sketchbooks, swatches, glass and ceramics which allows people to explore the trailblazing design career of Irish designer. Her fame outside of Ireland is shown in the magazines of Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar and her entrepreneurial spirit was ground-breaking for the period.

Limerick fashion icon, Celia Holman-Lee echoed the influence Sybil Connolly had on the fashion world, telling I Love Limerick, “She has been phenomenal. She dressed president’s wives, like the incredible Jackie Kennedy. She used her fabrics, the most beautiful, beautiful fabrics, and a great designer creates a fabric, and then creates within the fabric a stitch which makes her unique in the world, and that’s what she did.”

Celia said Limerick having the collection is “just incredible in the fact that one can come and view them”.

Having the collection in the Hunt Museum means they can be used for exhibitions, Jill Cousins explains, “We’re also very keen of other people, if they want to loan them, if they want to borrow them, if they want to show them elsewhere that would be great as far as we’re concerned. It’s great to get her designs and ideas out in the wider world, encouraging others to come and see the collection here, see the items here.

“There’s always something on display from her, whether it’s her dresses or the interior design pieces; wallpaper, and Tiffany Cups, anything she made in later life.”

The collection being kept in the Hunt Museum is “vital” for the Irish Fashion Industry Edmund Shanahan, Chairperson of the Council of Irish Fashion Designers told I Love Limerick.

He said, “It is vital that the Irish Fashion Design industry has a resource like this, where we can look back at our fashion heritage. But not just a fashion heritage that’s about raking through the ashes, but about relighting the fire for the future.

“The essence of Sybil Connolly’s work is also the essence of sustainability. It’s about craftsmanship, it’s about quality, it’s about Irish fabrics. And it certainly is very, very topical in fashion not just here in Ireland, but right across the world right now.”

Mr Shanahan noted looking across Europe at the major fashion houses “they are all looking to their heritage”, adding, “That’s why I think it’s so important this facility is here, for graduates to come and see it, and to understand what it is to make really beautiful garments.”

Told help conserve the Sybil Connolly collection, you can donate here.
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Pictures: Olena Oleksienko/ilovelimerick

Richard is a presenter, producer, songwriter and actor. He was named the Limerick Person of the Year (2011) and won an online award at the Metro Éireann Media and Multicultural Awards (2011) for promoting multi-culturalism online. Richard says that the concept is very much a community driven project that aims to document life in Limerick. So, that in 20 years time people can look back and remember the events that were making the headlines.