Former Avoca owner Amanda Pratt on her new shop: I wanted to create something with meaning

Pratt’s new shop, Amo & Pax in Kilmacanogue, is a refreshing change to more soulless retail spaces

“In good we trust” is the motto that greets the visitor at the mosaic vestibule entrance to Amanda Pratt’s newly opened shop Amo & Pax, located on the site of Avoca’s original head office in Kilmacanogue. The gravelled entrance is framed by a curved redbrick wall with huge, salvaged farm gates that allow entrance to the famed Avoca 300-year-old yew tree walk, proud home to a tree considered to be the oldest in Ireland, which is more than 20ft high.

The shop is a wide, light filled two-storey space that houses all sorts of interesting objects chosen with the same discerning, creative eye that has always characterised Pratt’s approach to design (as one of the six Pratt siblings who owned Avoca until its sale to Aramark in 2014, she was also creative director and head buyer for more than 20 years). An array of covetable clothing, jewellery, ceramics, books, cards, antiques, lamps, boots, shawls and blankets stylishly displayed makes a refreshing change to more soulless retail spaces.

With years of experience under her belt masterminding building projects and creating beautiful retail spaces – she estimates about 20-30 – this time Pratt has brought a profound personal sensibility to the reconstruction of the building and every object in it. It is underpinned by her strongly held belief in nature and sustainability “and genuinely trying to think about everything and buying from high responsible producers”, she says. Pratt is also known as being a tough negotiator when it comes to business.

The building is solar powered, the furniture and fittings mostly salvaged or sourced from auction rooms, and a wheelchair lift allows access to the upper floor, a space capable of multiple functions, currently used for yoga lessons with yoga therapist Elaine Harris. At ground level, everything is displayed on fixtures which are interesting in themselves with their own stories to tell “because I dislike regular shop fittings”, says Pratt.


There is an elegant antique four-poster French bed, for instance, used to display wool pillows and bed linen; a circular display case for jewellery and other items that once belonged to fashion designer Sybil Connolly, and a Victorian bow-fronted glass cabinet that belonged to a grandmother. An unusual French chandelier is composed of chains and cut manuscript paper pieces. “I choose things that make me smile or make me think,” Pratt says.

The Irish-made coat collection comprises simple, easy-to-wear, comfortable shapes in bouclé, printed cotton or yellow brocade. Cashmere scarves come in a variety of colours, some embellished with decorative beaded embroidery. There are all sorts of socks, and a rail of silk kimonos many will recall from the shop she reorganised in Russborough.

There is a section relating to bees (she keeps bees in her Sandycove home), jewellery in a mix of styles from various designers, along with clog boots from Sweden and notebooks made from coffee beans. Most items come from French, Italian, Danish and Dutch sources, each of which have their own raison d’être – so there is a lot to distract the eye and plenty of ideas for gifts or Christmas presents.

A Sew Good corner offers repairs, alterations, patching, adjusting and decorating services with seamstress Colette Howlin, where discarded vintage fabrics and haberdashery items await customers. As a self-confessed make-do and mend advocate and an enemy of fast fashion, Pratt confesses to a love of fixing sweaters with holes. Her own ceramics range, a mix of glazed and unglazed pottery, has developed through her collaboration with local potter Geoffrey Healy.

“I feel very strongly that I am planting a seed here and will see what happens. I wanted to create something with meaning, that I can stand over every product, that there is no plastic and everything is sustainable. I am glad that I have made it beautiful,” Pratt says.

As the former creative head of Avoca she leaves an imprint wherever she works and is proud that her lifestyle store at Dalkeith Castle outside Edinburgh won Best Independent Shop of the Year in 2021. “Everything I have done has made money and I am good at that and good at making sense of really thinking carefully about who we are and trying to do things a little bit differently,” Pratt says.

For more, see

Deirdre McQuillan

Deirdre McQuillan

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