Early 70’s – 2nd Red Solo Dress, Siobhan O’Mahony

Siobhan O’Mahony’s second solo dress is quite a unique piece. As she already explained about her first dress, she said that she ‘always, always, always wore red – being a blonde… red was my Irish dance colour’ .

Like her first solo dress, the former World Champion from Limerick City had this dress designed, made and hand-embroidered by Alice O’Brien (also from Limerick City).

The design for the embroidery was taken from a book with Celtic knots from the Book of Kells. 

Siobhan further explained that dresses were worn until they were too short before a new dress would be made. Sometimes, a piece of fabric would be inserted on the waist in order to make it longer and get a few more years out of it – you can clearly recognize that belt-type piece of fabric added on this dress to lengthen it a bit more. You can see how she’s slowly growing out of it in the last photograph. 

Two particular details are quite noticeable about this dress: some of the embroidery was done with gold thread – a colour, back then, barely used for Irish dance costumes!

And the most endearing detail is the embroidery done of the Irish dancer on the sash panel on the back… Isn’t that amazing?! Have you ever encountered that kind of image on embroidered Irish dance costumes before? I would love to hear more about that, to see if this was a rather common thing or a once off creative project by Alice.

Also – you’ll notice a small Crolly Doll on the newspaper article photograph wearing a dress made and embroidered also by Alice O’Brien. I’ll be posting more details about that special doll soon, so keep an eye out for that, and for upcoming pictures of other dresses worn by Siobhan!

Siobhan O’Mahony was part of Scéalta Damhsa, a project aiming to collect and preserve dance stories. 

S.S.K. Marbach, 2020


Photo Credit:

  • Original photographs of newspaper articles: unknown
  • Photographs of photograph / dress photography: © S.S.K. Marbach, 2020
  • Photographs taken from personal scrap book, with kind courtesy of Siobhan O’Mahony

If you have any information about the original photographer, do let me know please. 





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