Aisling Quinn: 'Modelling gave me confidence. Some girls are smaller than me, but I accept my body...'
Aisling Quinn is a striking young woman in every sense of the word: intelligent, funny, beautiful and humble.
The daughter of former Ireland international soccer star Niall Quinn and his wife Gillian has just completed her second year of a law degree in UCD and is looking forward to enjoying the rest of the summer.
"I love it, it's going really well. I just got my results and it's all good, so I'm free now and I'm just working away modelling with 1st Options," Aisling (21) explains."I am going away inter-railing for the month of August; I'm going with my boyfriend Ashley. We did it last year and we didn't kill each other, so we're going to give it another go."
Aisling's boyfriend of over two years, Ashley Duane, is a pharmacy student at Trinity College and also models. "He didn't model before he met me" she giggles, "I dragged him into it."
Aisling's approach to life is light-hearted and endlessly positive. She embraces not knowing what exactly she may do once she finishes her degree in two years' time; she is excited and open to whatever the future holds for her.
"I am not sure what I'll do when I leave college," she explains, her father's handsome eyes and her mother's gorgeous grin shooting back at me across our table in Avoca's Egg Cafe.
"I have these Amal Clooney aspirations of being a human rights lawyer, but I change my mind a good bit," she laughs, referring to George Clooney's wife. "I want to travel the world too. So, hopefully, I can do both."
However, humanitarianism is something that Aisling is genuinely passionate about. Long before the world was swooning over Amal's brains, husband and style hat-trick, Aisling was getting a true sense of the world around her and where she would like to fit into it.
"I went to Morocco when I was 12 with the Irish Heart Foundation to do a charity trek, and we went through parts of the Sahara Desert and I saw such poverty, going through some of those tiny towns. It has always stuck with me and I think that is what has made me go towards humanitarian law," Aisling adds.
Aisling is very grateful for the very down-to-earth and humble view on the world that her parents imparted on her as she grew up.
"I was brought up to think that we were not any better than anyone else, and if I had of thought that, it would have been beaten out of me pretty fast," she laughs. Aisling also credits her parents with for her drive and ambition to succeed in life.
"Dad is a workaholic and gives his absolute everything to what he does, so I have seen that work ethic growing up and, certainly, it gives you that drive and ambition to push yourself too," Aisling tells me.
"And my mum is the same. She is a wonderful, powerful woman. She is a very authentic person. She is doing her own thing at the moment too, studying psychology."
Ireland's celebrity showbiz scene has never held much appeal for Aisling.
"No. Well, I grew up in Kildare, in the sticks, so it's not really what you do," she smiles. "I never really took to it. I never really go out; I prefer to save up and go on a nice holiday or weekends away."
Aisling was born in the UK, but her family moved home to Ireland when she was nine, where she attended Ghael-Choláiste Chill Dara, an all-Irish-speaking school.
"I'm a Gaeilgeoir!" she announces proudly. "It is great and I have been able to keep it up as well. The school is always very welcoming if I ever want to pop back in for a chat too, which is lovely."
"I am really passionate about the language and it's funny because I lived in England until I was nine and when you are kid, it's not something you think about," Aisling says. "It wasn't something I wanted to learn and I remember being really against going to the school at the start. I hated it because it was double Dutch to me then. I hadn't a clue what was going on, but they teachers persevered and gave me a lead role in the school play that year, so it was sink or swim, and I learned to swim and it was the best thing."
Although her boyfriend Ashley didn't attend an Irish-speaking school, Aisling admits to being a good influence on him in this regard.
"We actually do talk Irish sometimes to each other," she says. "He can speak it and we have bumped into teachers of mine and I have been speaking Irish to them and he has been able to understand and hold his own. I bully him into it!" Aisling laughs.
She began her modelling career at just 14.
"I was in second year," she explains. "So I was always kind of under the radar, chipping away, getting experience, but school was always my first priority."
So what did her dad think of her becoming a model at such as young age?
"He trusted my mum and also, I was with 1st Options and they are very protective. If there was something they weren't happy with, they would never put me forward for it," Aisling explains. "Dad is happy out and he is very supportive. I think modelling actually gave me a lot of confidence."
"Growing up, I wasn't slim and I would have seen other models and noticed that they were much slimmer than me and even now I am smaller, but I look around and there are still girls smaller than me, so I have learned to accept my body," Aisling adds. "There is always going to be somebody taller or with a smaller waist or a nicer bum or longer legs. There is always something. So I have focused on sport and I keep very fit and healthy and I am very happy in myself."
Aisling moved from 1st Options to the Andrea Roche Modelling Agency three years ago, but made what she says was a 'simple business decision' to move back to her mother agent last February.
"I moved back in February to 1st options. It was a bit of a now-or-never decision and I started with 1st Options when I was 14, so I am very close to them," she explains. "I don't regret leaving because it suited at the time, but I'm glad I decided to move back to them and there was no big fall out or drama involved."
Apart from her family, her boyfriend, her animals (Aisling has seven dogs), the other great loves in Aislings's life are fashion and football.
"It's a bit of a contrast," she laughs. "And I am talking about Gaelic football; I am into soccer because I have to be in our house, but I play Gaelic for my local team in Eadestown, which I love. We actually went over to watch a soccer match in Sunderland a couple of weeks ago and then out for a team-bonding night, which was great too."
"I am very family orientated, so wherever my family is, that is home to me," Aisling adds. "I don't know if that's because we have moved about a bit, but I guess that is just the way I have been brought up. I would love to see the world too, but family is a big part of my life."
"I keep a journal. I write down three things every day that I am happy about or proud of. I like to keep positive; a family friend does positive psychology, Denis Hevey, and he is very passionate about it. You chat to him and you go away so motivated. He suggested it and it really does make appreciative for every day," Aisling says.
So what does the future hold for Aisling? She is not sure exactly and that is what excites her about it so much.
"I am not going to close any doors. It's exciting not knowing where I am going to be and what I want to do," she smiles.
"I love writing so I think I might like to do that at some stage. I have done a course in Pilates, to teach Pilates, so that's another thing I would like to get into at some stage too, but five years down the road, I don't know where I'll be.
"Modelling is great for getting me through college and I do really enjoy it, so I think I will do it for as long as I can. But I think I have my mind set on a different career, long-term, probably in the legal area or working for a charity, but who knows?
"I don't know where life is going to take me."
"I would love to do the Inca trail," Aisling becomes a little bit more definite, "and I want to live in lots of different countries, see different things and get as many experiences as possible. I'm sure about that."