Was it the clothes worn or the time served that made this man? Because undoubtedly, it seemed a very different Sean Quinn Jr who emerged last month from Mountjoy prison, hand in hand with wife Karen Woods.
When he had entered those gates, three months beforehand, he looked like a gauche, rich child, suited in the uniform of the white collar worker and whingeing to anyone who would listen about the unfairness of the justice system.
Apart from the dyed-in-the-wool devotees for whom no member of the Quinn dynasty could do wrong, there was scant sympathy for the boy; most of us thought he was a devious, spoilt young fella, shielded from the usual challenges and difficulties of life by his big, brash, rich Da, an heir who did not deserve to inherit any throne.
Then we begin to hear rumblings that our low estimation of Quinn Jr's strength of character might be mistaken; that there might be the makings of a man behind this boyish facade.
First, there was the comparison with his cousin Peter, who left Sean Jr to face the punishment for contempt of court alone as he furtively raced over the Border and gave two fingers to the Republic's justice system. Sean Jr braved a night in the less than salubrious surroundings of the main Mountjoy prison before being transferred to the more civilised environs of the Training Unit, which houses white-collar criminals and prisoners nearing the end of their sentences.
Then we heard that, far from being sulky or aloof inside, Quinn Jr was settling into prison very well. He was popular with fellow inmates and staff alike. The boy was taking his medicine without complaint.
Then we were treated to Karen Woods, Quinn's wife of just two months, braving the paparazzi regularly in her determination to see her husband. While there have been accusations that her glamorous attire was more suited to the catwalk than prison visits, it's wholly justifiable that Woods's attention to her looks was done solely for the benefit of her husband. This woman is definitely standing by her man and what could be more romantic than that?
And then we saw Quinn Jr on the day of his release, looking like a completely different person. He looked confident, fit and -- dare we say it -- very sexy in a black Ralph Lauren fleece, white t-shirt and jeans, holding on to his beautiful blonde wife's hand with Daddy rightly following in his wake.
If we dubbed the Quinn family our very own Ewings, with Daddy Quinn as Jock, and Peter Darragh (PD) as the devious, untrustworthy JR, then Sean Jr is undoubtedly Bobby, complete with unswerving loyalty to family, the courage to take the punishment meted out to him and, of course, his ever-adoring Pam (Karen) always at his side ready to support him, no matter what.
It's all very Hollywood.
So, is Sean Quinn Jr now up for the title of the sexiest man in the country? Completely arbitrarily, and using no scientific methods whatsoever, I consulted some friends and acquaintances of both sexes and varying ages for their opinions. In the main the men were in favour. The other half admitted that Quinn Jr was now seen as a "man's man" after doing his time without complaint and getting on so well with the hard blokes in the Joy. Two female friends said that yes, the sight of him all casual in Ralph Lauren emerging from jail, looking far more handsome than he went in, had caused them to stop and think "yes, I would".
Another said that despite the fact she disagreed with everything the Quinns had done to date regarding their handing of their financial debacle, there was no getting away from the fact that Quinn Jr stayed and did his time, unlike his cousin, and also that there was a rugged attraction about a man who could fight so hard for family and reputation, however misguidedly.
There was one dissenter of course, who said that even if Quinn Jr got every penny of his fortune returned to him in the morning with a divorce from Karen and a papal annulment, she still wouldn't touch him with a bargepole. But she was in the minority.
In general the consensus from my impromptu straw poll was a dawning comprehension that, yes, Quinn Jr had gone to prison a boy and emerged a man, and that this was a very attractive quality indeed in a country which so desperately needs a hero or two.