She’s like a rainbow: the Irish designer putting fun fluorescents and pastels in charge

Deirdre McQuillan: Doireann Healy’s new collection uses bright colours in a controlled and confident way

The advice of never wearing more than three colours in any one outfit is firmly shaken up in Doireann Healy’s first extensive clothing collection, a new departure for her popular Begley and Bowie label primarily known for slogan T-shirts.

Designed using fun fluorescents and pastels in a controlled and confident way, it’s not surprising that one of her zany sweatshirts bears the words She’s Like A Rainbow.

Another bestseller at Create last year bore the message Every Woman Is A Rebel. The new collection has dresses, trousers and bomber jackets as well as slogan tees.

Though the Kenmare illustrator and screen printer launched her brand only in 2019 when, she says, “there was an appetite for colour”, she has already won the IDI Rising Star Award, and has designed merchandise for Doonbeg, Dromoland Castle, Adare Manor, Kelly’s of Rosslare, the Killarney Brewery & Distillery and the Park Hotel in Kenmare. Her cultural map of Dublin is stocked in the National Gallery.


“My style is eclectic and playful, but I like colour to be done tastefully,” she says. Her three sources of inspiration are the British interior designer Kit Kemp, the Irish visual artist Elizabeth Cope and Danish fashion designer Stine Goya, all of whom use colour, texture and pattern in distinctive ways.

She also credits her mother Joan, who was one of Gay Byrne’s first personal assistant, for a strong work ethic, and for encouraging her love of drawing by bringing her to art classes in the Crawford Gallery in Cork as a child. After school, Healy studied interior design and later became a primary schoolteacher before giving that up to study screen printing at Damn Fine Print in Stoneybatter in Dublin. She then began doing illustration and set up Begley and Bowie – the name taken from two much-loved childhood dogs.

Her launch at the Food Festival in Dingle, facilitated by weaver Lisbeth Mulcahy with a series of T-shirts illustrating the history of the town on slogan clothing, was an instant success. “I spent my teen years working in Dingle and could see what the tourists were buying. The reaction to the launch was immediate and I got all the festivals after that,” she recalls.

At a pop-up in Dublin at Christmas, the first person who walked into the shop was Amy Huberman, who bought a Dublin sweatshirt for herself and gifts for others, “and she took my details and that was the launch [and support] I needed, so it all happened organically”, she says.

Invited to Create last year for the second time, she credits meeting fellow participant Amy Anderson of Kindred, who was interested in including Irish linen with her new collection. The dresses, tees, sweatshirts and trousers are made in 85 per cent organic cotton and 15 per cent polyester from recycled plastic.

“I am using linen and my own printed textiles so it is quite spontaneous, and with every collection I am learning more. It is a mix of prints but not having the entire outfit in crazy colour. It is casual wear, but chic – a bomber jacket with linen trousers can be worn with sandals by day, heels by night.” All pieces have pockets and the linen tops come in a variety of colours.

Neon buttons and zips have been sourced in the US for quality, and everything is made in Dublin by a team of Romanians who also make for other brands. Healy now plans to screen print on Irish linen, and in January attended a course on the subject at the Belfast Print Workshop.

She has also released a range of fine art prints on high-quality Munken paper in collaboration with the lifestyle and interiors store April & The Bear in Rathmines in Dublin 6. “I love designing, and I like having the two elements, designing one and thinking about the next.”

Find her new range in her shop on Henry Street in Kenmare, and online at

Photography by Eilish McCormick, styling by Sinead Keenan, model Phoebe Tan at Morgan the Agency, beauty by Mary Ellen Darby. Footwear and hats from Penneys.

Deirdre McQuillan

Deirdre McQuillan

Deirdre McQuillan is Irish Times Fashion Editor, a freelance feature writer and an author