Gillian and Ronan Treacy from Portarlington who are opening up an interiors shop in the town
Laois couple Gillian and Ronan Treacy are embarking on a new business venture creating up to 15 jobs in the local community.
The Portarlington couple became nationally known after bravely fronting an anti drink driving media campaign for the Road Safety Authority, following the death of their son Ciarán, 4, over six years ago.
Now they are turning their energy to fulfill a long held dream of Gillian's, opening an interiors shop in their town.
"I've always loved interior design. My background is in beauty therapy which is art related. It will be an interiors shop on two floors, with beautiful candles, pottery, ornaments, furniture and wall art. A one stop shop of high end items.
"It will have a coffee shop as well and we have a top pastry chef who will do all the baking from scratch, like sourdoughs, soda breads, cakes and fudges. We will be employing staff in the café and the shop, in all about 15 full and part-time staff," she said.
They are renovating a large shop on Main Street that has lain vacant for the past five years.
"When I first opened a beauty salon in Portarlington back in 1998 I used to walk past this building and think it's crying out for something like an interiors shop, it was Mooney's drapershop, a 1930s building. It's 5,000 square feet over two stories which is too big for many shops but too small for larger chains. Then I married and the kids took over, it was only this Christmas we talked about it and everything just fell into place.
"We have been working on it since January. When Covid hit, in one way it kept us motivated. People spend more time at home now and instead of holidays they are looking at putting money into their houses. Your home is your haven," she said.
It was important for them to open it in Portarlington.
"I wouldn't dream of anywhere else. This is our home town and in a way it's like giving back to the town. The community of Portarlington was a phenomenal support to us and still is," she said.
"We feel personally, myself, Ronan, Sean and Caoimhe that it is a way of saying thanks to Portarlington and the surrounding areas. It's only in the last two years or so that I feel a fog has lifted. We were just in total shock before that. In a way it's nice to get back to some sort of normal life," Gillian said.
The shop's name Hummingbird Interiors has a special meaning for Gillian. Hummingbirds symbolise joy of life, resilience and optimism.
"Feathers too have a spiritual meaning for me, it is a good omen to have," she said.
The Treacys have plenty of business acumen between them, having run the local Texaco filling station for nine years.
"Before that Ronan was in wholesale and retail so he has over 20 years of experience. Basically I'm picking all the nice things for the shop and he is doing all the hard work and the financial side, he has a good head for it," she said.
They hope to open in early November.
"The shop is still like a building site but I have been putting out tasters on Instagram and getting messages straight away, the interest is huge. We are constantly getting well wishes, people can't wait for it to open. Even if there are more restrictions we will still do a takeaway service," she said.
Below: the vacant shop on Main Street Portarlington that is soon to be the home of Hummingbird Interiors.