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'Whole season is gone at drop of a hat' - milliners count cost of cancellations

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Taking the positives: Tralee milliner Carol Kennelly is using this time to explore new concepts for when orders return

Taking the positives: Tralee milliner Carol Kennelly is using this time to explore new concepts for when orders return

Taking the positives: Tralee milliner Carol Kennelly is using this time to explore new concepts for when orders return

Cancelled ladies' days at the races, no Dublin Horse Show and no mothers of the bride ordering bespoke hats.

It's a tough time for the country's milliners who have seen the lifeblood of their profession, the big, dress-up occasion, vanish this summer.

The Punchestown Festival, due to start on Tuesday, would have been the kick-off of the racing summer finery, followed by another 12 ladies' days during June and July and a further seven for August and September.

The cancellation of the jewel in the crown on the best dressed circuit - Ladies' Day at the Dublin Horse Show at the RDS - shows why milliners are fit to cry into their ostrich feathers and colourful crinoline straw.

Many milliners and style queens are holding on to hope of virtual ladies' days.

In the sunshine of her garden in Tralee, Co Kerry, milliner Carol Kennelly is determined to turn this negative into a positive.

She now has time on her hands to explore new concepts and invest days into developing new prototypes for when orders return.

"The whole season is gone but it could be worse," says Carol. "In the space of two weeks, every single mother of the bride and every order for Ascot either went on hold or were cancelled straight off.

"Normally at this time of the year, I'd get a big order from England for the rental market and I'd have hats for the Curragh, Killarney, Listowel, Limerick and easily 20 to 25 hats going to Galway."

The cancellation of ladies' days is a disappointment too for regular competitors on the circuit for whom it is a creative outlet, former winners like theatre midwife Sarah Cass from Kilkenny.

Coming off duty at the Rotunda Hospital yesterday, Sarah said she had ordered a hat from Laura Hanlon in Roscommon for next year "because it is important to support our milliners".

Horse Racing Ireland hasn't received clarification on the 5,000 capacity at events issued by the Government so ladies' days are up in the air for the moment.

Michael Moloney, general manager of Galway racecourse, said they had seen a couple of race courses doing virtual ladies' days "and it's certainly something that's in our box of ideas".

Irish Independent


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