Irish Youth Culture and Subculture in Fashion

Theorists provide invaluable tools to “think through fashion” [and …] engaging with theory is essential in order to understand and analyse fashion’ (Rocamora and Smelik 2016).

Despite the emphasis of Anglicised narratives, there have been youth culture and subcultural movements in Ireland which heavily concerned fashion. This essay will form a case study around photographs and first-hand accounts which illustrate the construction of identity through dress, youth and subculture in Ireland. Drawing on Stuart Hall’s thinking around hegemony and identity, this essay will seek to demonstrate that 20th Century youth fashion movements were not exclusively a British phenomenon. Additionally, the process of evidencing Irish subcultures will utilise theories from Michel Maffesoli concerning subcultures and tribes, as well as research from the academics of the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies. This will seek to show how critical theory can be used to investigate personal archival material in order to think through fashion. Irish fashion history should not be subsumed into British; its own is rich and diverse. UK subcultural studies form the dominant narrative but it is important that we tell counterhistories in order to represent a wide range of identities. As Rocamora and Smelik note, a ‘student or scholar of fashion needs to look at the field of fashion with fresh eyes, clearing her or his mind of preconceived ideas and prejudices’ (2016: 3). Theory provides us with the intellectual tools to do this. 

My case study concentrates on two very specific examples, illustrative of wider phenomena, as both parties were part of larger groups. Their fashion was influenced by the zeitgeist in which they dressed. The first part of the case study will concern my own mother, her style of dressing, and fashion motivation as a teenager in the mid to late 1970s. She was part of a crowd of young people in a long, hot summer all soaking up the pleasures of being youthful. The second part of the study will take my aunt’s dress rituals into consideration. Fashion and being part of a group was even more important to her, as she was a member of the goth subculture in the late 1980s to mid 1990s. Both of them grew up in a small town called Kilkee on the west coast of Co. Clare. No Milan, Paris, London or any other fashion capital, yet the youths of the town were just as concerned with their style and subcultural status as any others of the respective eras.

Ireland’s history has been problematically entangled with British history since the 12th Century when interminable violence and exploitation unfolded in the name of colonialism. It has become apparent that Irish youth culture has not been explored with the same depth and veracity as the British equivalent. This is not a signifier of a lack of fashion history in Ireland, but a symptom of an undocumented generation, left behind through lack of interest from oppressors whom hold the power to perpetuate dominant discourses. Storytelling is an integral part of Irish culture and history, and fashion is a mode of storytelling, so this essay will explore the importance of fashion in constructing identities to Irish youths of the 1970s-1990s. 

How culture impacts identity formation and what constitutes a subculture

Colin Graham tells us that Thomas MacDonagh’s Literature in Ireland (1916), penned in a very tumultuous and important year in Irish history, ‘turns the universe on its head in the pursuit of Irish difference’ (2001: 32). It is common that Irish and Anglo-European differences will be highlighted in conversations of degradation, but not necessarily in those of celebration, or even in accurate representation. The twentieth century began with the Revival in Ireland, of culture and history. In the context of literature the goal of this movement was to engage ‘in the process of providing the accessibility and overcoming the ignorance of nineteenth-century Irish literature implied by the British Library’s elisions’ (2001: 34). A similar logic may be applied in order to understand the unchronicled dress history of Ireland’s youths and subcultures. 

Stuart Hall explains the complexity of identity formation and affirmation as a continuous production which is ‘always constituted within, not outside, representation’ (Hall,1990: 222). Our sense of self is positioned within the context of our cultural identity, which is just as complex, due to entanglements with long and convoluted histories. On one hand, cultural identity can be viewed as a shared entity amongst people of similar backgrounds and shared experiences, however this relegates identity to the realm of the static and unchanging, which is largely inaccurate (Hall, 1990). Therefore, it must be noted that cultural identity is also a ‘matter of ‘becoming’ as well as of ‘being’. It belongs to the future as much as to the past’ (Hall, 1990: 25). It is not a fixed truth, but rather an ongoing process formed by place, time, history and culture, and will ‘undergo constant transformation’ (ibid). Hall does not deny that identity can be experienced and expressed in very real ways, as it ‘has its histories – and histories have their real, material and symbolic effects’ (Hall, 1990: 226). Marxist thinking reinforces these ideas that identity is flexible and fluid, rather than a fact already attributed at birth. Karl Marx ascribed to the belief that identity was heavily formed around social and economic status. However, ‘Hall rejected Marx’s reductive notion of culture as a passive, secondary, reflection in order to stress its active, primary, constitutive role in society’ (Procter, 2004: 16).

Dress is a form of identity construction as we utilise it to continuously reconcile our sense of self. This has been particularly important to members of youth and subcultural movements. The notion that dress is integral to identity formation is described as ‘a result of the fragmentation and changing structures of modernity, Lipovetsky argues that in contemporary society the grand narratives of modernity have been replaced by the logic of fashion and consumption’ (Rocomora & Smelik, 2016: 11). 

Subcultures are an area of cultural studies that were first explored at the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies (CCCS) in Birmingham, UK in the 1970s. Academics such as Stuart Hall, Dick Hebdige, Phil Cohen and Paul Willis defined the term ‘subculture’. The development of these theories was motivated by Marxist politics and as a response to rapid changes in society, as subcultures themselves often are. Usually, subcultural styles are a visual manifestation of rebellion and subversion from marginalised groups e.g. the working classes. Subcultural groups often seek to express heresy through their reordering of commodities and creation of bricolage. Homology refers to the relationship between style and values for these groups, in that the objects used must encode their political values. Also there is a requirement that ‘the group self-consciousness is sufficiently developed for its members to be concerned to recognise themselves in the range of symbolic objects available’ (Clarke, 1976: 150). The group’s self-consciousness is then created through construction of an ensemble (Clarke, 1976: 151). Additionally, ‘a subculture is concerned first and foremost with consumption. It operates exclusively in the leisure sphere’ (Hebdige, 1981: 94). Hebdige argues that this consumption leads to mass production which in turn causes a decline in the subcultural group as individual (Hebdige, 1981: 96).

Therefore, in order to constitute a subculture, a group of young people will be bound together through similar tastes in fashion, as well as interests in pastimes and music etc. The manifestation of their look will involve the reordering of commodities acquired through conspicuous consumption. Additionally, the presence of a political or ethical motivation consciously conveyed through dress will be a prominent feature. For subcultures, their motivation is equally attributed to style and activities as to their ethical cause, whereas a counterculture is likely to be overtly political. 

There are notable limitations to subcultural theory, including the difficulty of pinpointing clear cut boundaries between groups, styles and eras, in order to summarise them in neatly bound categories, existing in only one time period. To accommodate the gaps in subcultural theory, Michel Maffesoli’s work on neo-tribes is often cited. In his book The Time of the Tribes, Mafessoli theorises that membership within groups is inherent in the construction of identity for many youths. However, in contrast to a subculture, a tribe is ‘without the rigidity of the forms of organisation’ (Maffesoli, 1996:98). This suggests that ‘groupings which have traditionally been theorised as coherent subcultures are better understood as a series of temporal gatherings characterised by fluid boundaries and floating memberships’ (Bennett, 1999: 600). Andy Bennett argues that there are many groups that are not ‘as ‘coherent’ or ‘fixed’ as the term ‘subculture’ implies. On the contrary, it seems to [Bennett] that so-called youth ‘subcultures’ are prime examples of the unstable and shifting cultural affiliations which characterise late modern consumer-based societies’ (Bennett, 1999: 605). This illustrates the fluid nature of identity. This alternative model accommodates for the temporal nature of some groups, although I argue that rather than a subcultural group ceasing to exist, the values and styles are just passed along to the next generation of youths to take forward. The subculture sometimes morphs into a different iteration of the same entity, and sometimes remains more true to the original. This is a natural cycle in the movement of fashion. It is debated upon whether the nature of tribes involves a conscious affiliation with political ideals, or whether it is much more style focused. Therefore, I shall investigate my case study through the lens of subcultural studies as the parameters around this are more clearly defined. 

Case studies: youth culture and subculture in Ireland (1970s – 1990s)


Fig 1.(left) Youth Culture in Kilkee, Co. Clare, Ireland (1976)

Fig. 2 (right) Back of photograph shown in fig. 1 (1976)

Fig. 3 (left) Summer 1976 (1976)

Fig. 4 (right) Back of photograph shown in fig. 3  (1976)

My mother, Mary as a youth in 1976 can be seen in the above fig. 1 and fig. 3. She was occupied with the statements she made through fashion as she had a desire for others to recognise that she was following the latest trends. She notes the sense of power gained through this, though it may have only been in her own mind (appendix 1, 2022). Mary was part of Ireland’s youth culture in the 1970s, she was interested in conforming to the latest fashions in order to gain acceptance from her wider peer group. She was unphased if the older, more religiously affiliated generation in her town disapproved, so long as she was keeping up with her friends. She recalls that the whole group dressed similarly because they ‘followed what was fashionable and copied bands’ (ibid). Mary remembers that she wanted to ‘blend in and not invent anything new or lead anyone’ (ibid). This signals the existence of youth culture because it concerns cultural practices carried out by members of a common group of young people in the construction and expression of their identities as members (Buchmann, 2001). 

Membership to the group is gained and maintained through demonstrating knowledgeable use of cultural commodities recognised as acceptable, in this case the latest fashionable clothing. This would be applied in construction of their individual identities, as well as that of the group. It was difficult to obtain the newest fashions in a rural area, so often she would endeavour to reach the nearest large town in search of new items. Tourists from larger places such as Limerick, Dublin and London visiting their small seaside town in the summer would usually have enviable new fashion items which Mary aspired to own. I argue that this is an example of fashion-oriented youth culture in a small Irish town in the 1970s, but not a subculture. This is because there is a distinct lack of a political agenda. Mary was not aiming to stand out from the masses nor subvert the established order. Additionally there is no evidence in the reordering of commodities, but rather the opposite. Although the conspicuous consumption was present, Mary utilised fashion commodities in the ways pop culture demanded. For example, she found style inspiration through ‘reading Jackie and watching Top of the Pops and The Brady Bunch’ (appendix 1, 2022). 


Fig 5. Goth Subculture in Co. Clare, Ireland (1994)

In contrast, my aunt Patricia (fig. 5) was a member of a subcultural group in the late 1980s – mid 1990s, they called themselves the Modern Goths. She was determined to subvert the established order in her small, traditional town. The group members all dressed similarly, in dark clothes with dramatic makeup including pale foundation and black lipstick. They all wore variations of the same style including Doc Marten boots, leather jackets and skull jewellery (appendix 2, 2022). Patricia remembers how the Modern Goths enjoyed blurred gender boundaries, in which it was the norm for the boys to wear the same makeup looks as the girls. She fondly reminisces on how it was a core value of the group to be as inclusive as possible and to embrace difference. Despite judgement from authoritative religious figures in the town, the group rebelled through their fashions. Patricia cites that there was not a definitive conscious political agenda behind their dress, however she remembers that ‘society made people harden towards what they saw as different’ (ibid). It was no secret that this gothic style was not approved of by the nuns and holy fathers (ibid). However, the Modern Goths rebelled and ‘just wore more and they gave up’ (ibid). It was important to them to have agency as young people and they found power in dressing subversively; this united them in shared beliefs. 

This demonstrates the existence of a subculture because of the consumption of commodities which have been reordered with the goal of subverting social norms. The group of young people all shared a similar style and tastes in music and activities. It was important to them to maintain their look and push the boundaries that had been set out in a very religious and traditional country. Through membership of this subculture, they  found other ‘people who were like-minded, open-minded, not stuck in a past era’ (ibid). However, their motivation was not explicitly political, therefore I will not posit that this is a counterculture.

Identity construction through youth culture and subculture in Ireland

This case study points towards the existence of youth cultures and subcultures in Ireland from 1970s-90s. Youths formed groups which constituted an important part of Irish culture, similarly to many areas in the late 20th Century, following the emergence of the teenager. Subcultures commonly emerge from the rebellion against strict moral codes; it is not farfetched to hypothesise that a traditional Catholic country may elicit the existence of these subversive groups. 

The first part of the case study demonstrates the ways in which youth cultures use commodities in identity formation, and this in turn forms cultural identity for masses. The need of an adolescent to coalesce with their group through emulating mass fashion trends is very common. Their construction of self may feel individual, however the ‘self still has to interact with the outside world of religion, market, work, family or community in the context of history to belong’ (Hall, 2018).

The second element of the case study exposes the nature of subcultures in Ireland. Traditional values in terms of expectations of modesty, and conformity to discrete and ‘virtuous’ styles narrowed the boundaries of acceptability for women. This complicates ‘the position of women in Irish society, bound to constitutional, institutional and religious issues of abortion, contraception and divorce, [this] has invoked serious examination of how gender and femininity relate to the notion of Irish identity.’ (Graham, 2001: 102). Subcultures form around the need to express individuality and agency. This results in moral panic, as explored by Phil Cohen in that ‘a condition, episode, person or group emerges to become defined as a threat to societal values and interests’ (Cohen cited in Proctor, 2004: 77). As uncovered in the case study, the people of the town were unsettled by the Modern Goth subculture, their unease stemmed from fear of the other, and lack of understanding around their sartorial coding. Often, this manifested itself within perpetuation of shame and criticism of the youths.

Michel Maffesoli’s theoretical framework concerning tribes seems less relevant to these initial findings around Irish subculture. The ideas on tribes are more centred around temporality, the passage from various groups within one’s everyday life and how this impacts identity presentation. The above case studies are focussing on the ways in which youths aim to construct an identity through homogeneity within a certain group for a chapter of their lives, and their motivations for this.

It is possible that these cultures existed on a different timeline than similar ones did in Britain. However as discovered in the case study, much of the inspiration, and sometimes clothing itself came to Ireland from London or the UK. Therefore it is fair to posit that the UK may have had an influential impact on the formation of Irish youth and subculture. Nonetheless, it is not accurate to assume that Britain had a monopoly on these phenomena, one which Irish people had no interest in participating in. Although this study only examines two individual cases, it seems that there is rich potential for a further investigation in order to establish a coherent timeline of the history of Ireland’s youth fashions.

Conclusion

Theorists such as Stuart Hall, Dick Hebdige and Michel Maffesoli have been invaluable to this work in defining the nature of subcultures. Although this mainly was from a British point of view, the Irish fashion cultures seem to have a similar enough nature to use the same framework. However development of these studies may prove otherwise, potentially Ireland’s timeline is unique enough to require differentiated theories; this will only be made clear through further research. This may include more first hand accounts and imagery, as well as investigation into photographic archives and visual analyses of contemporary media. One of the self-confessed limitations of subcultural theory as proposed by the CCCS is the modest geographical exploration. 

Additionally, Stuart Hall’s writing around identity is effective in explaining how youths have utilised fashion commodities, and why this is relevant to culture. The predominantly told Irish histories detail the tremendously important struggles for land and subjugation of the people. Their fashion history has largely been left untold in academic circles, nevertheless it is important because dress is an everyday bodily practice. This means that studies of dress can delve deep into the histories and psyches of everyday people in explaining how culture and history come together to form identities.

The construction of Irish identities often has the tainted shadow of English subjugation hanging over the politics of mass cultural identity formation.  A difficulty in the exploration of Irish socio-historical studies is that we often speak ‘of’ or ‘for’ Ireland, but it is important to investigate these small stories in construction of a wider narrative around Irish fashion histories. This ethnographic methodology is useful when researching a largely undocumented topic. Donna Harraway notes the particular relevance of this approach when stitching together ‘fragmented stories of partial truths and situated knowledges’ (Harraway cited in Rocamora and Smelik, 2016: 9) of marginalised groups. Hall’s work around cultural identity is invaluable to conducting this research when an academic framework is needed in order to analyse the material.

Érin Hanlon

Hanlon, E. (2021) Irish Youth Culture and Subculture in Fashion. Unpublished.


Bibliography

Bennett, A. (1999) Subcultures or Neo-Tribes? Rethinking the relationship between youth, style and musical taste. Sociology, 33(3), pp.599-617.

Brady, C. (2012) ‘Ireland’, in Furtado, P. (ed) Histories of Nations: How their identities were forged. London: Thames & Hudson Ltd, pp 55-72.

Buchmann, M. (2001) in Neil J. Smelser and Paul B. Baltes (eds.) International Encyclopaedia of the Social & Behavioural Sciences. [ebook] Science Direct. Available at: <https://www.sciencedirect.com/referencework/9780080430768/international-encyclopedia-of-the-social-and-behavioral-sciences#book-info&gt; [Accessed 22 January 2022].

Clarke, J. (1976) ‘Style’, in Hall, S. and Jefferson, T. (eds.) Resistance through rituals: Youth subcultures in post-war Britain. London: Hutchinson

Essay Sauce. (2012) What Are The Main Features Of Subcultures. Available at: <https://www.essaysauce.com/coursework/what-are-the-main-features-of-subcultures.php > [Accessed 17 January 2022].

Graham, C. (2001) Deconstructing Ireland: Identity, Theory, Culture. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

Hall, S. (1990). Cultural Identity and Diaspora. In J. Rutherford (Ed.), Identity: Community, Culture, Difference (pp. 222-237). London: Lawrence & Wishart.

Hebdige, D. (1979) ‘Style as Intentional Communication’, in Subculture: The Meaning of Style. London: Routledge. 

Maffesoli, M. (1996 [1988]) The Time of the Tribes: The Decline of Individualism in Mass Society. London: Sage.

Medium. (2018) Stuart Hall’s theory of Cultural Identity. [online] Available at: <https://greyflak.medium.com/stuart-halls-theory-of-cultural-identity-19c22f64721a&gt; [Accessed 24 January 2022].

Procter, J. (2004) Stuart Hall. Oxon: Routledge.

Rocamora, A. and Smelik, A. (2016) Thinking Through Fashion: A Guide to Key Theorists. London: Bloomsbury.


List of Figures

Fig 1. Youth Culture in Kilkee, Co. Clare, Ireland (1976)

Fig. 2 Back of photograph shown in fig. 1 (1976)

Fig. 3 Summer 1976 (1976)        

Fig. 4 Back of photograph shown in fig. 3  (1976)

Fig 5. Goth Subculture in Co. Clare, Ireland (1994)


Appendices

Appendix 1: Interview Transcript 

Interviewee: Mary Hanlon (as seen in fig. 1 and 3)

Consent form for use of material: completed 22/01/22

  1. What did you wear?

During the week I wore very boring clothes, jeans, jumpers, t-shirts, trousers, the odd midi skirt or dress. I only had about 4 outfits plus a school uniform. But Saturday and Sunday were different. I had special clothes, not many. But my powder blue bell bottoms were my favourite, they fitted so well, sat on my hips. I wore them with white t-shirts or tops. Girls wore smock tops despite not being pregnant, it was a fashion. I had a spotty one. My platform shoes were the best, and the envy of a lot of my friends whose mums wouldn’t let them have them.

  1. How did it make you feel?

The one piece of clothing that made me feel on top of the world was my tartan strip jeans. These were normal jeans that my very poor dad gave me money for, and expected them to be used in a practical way. I cut a slit in each side leg and inserted tartan strips. This was a tribute to The Bay City Rollers, who were the band of every young girls’ dreams in the 70s. Once I wore these with a tartan scarf on my wrist (this is what the band wore). Then I really got a mental lift and it was escapism from my day to day life helping my dad bring up my 3 sisters. 

I would walk up and down the main street thinking I was the best thing since the sliced loaf. I would get confidence and attitude from wearing this outfit. I so wish I had a photo of me then. None of my friends’ mums would allow them to cut their jeans. So there were benefits of not having a mum at home. I was the only one who had this outfit and no one knew I made it. All my friends were jealous and I loved it.

  1. What did your friends around you wear (was it the same or different to you, did you emulate them or do your own thing?)

Mostly I just looked like the next girl in the street, but going to the disco on a Saturday night, I would try to make my outfit different. I had red bell bottoms and the powder blue ones and jeans. These were the three main things, then I would try and buy different tops to wear with them. The one thing I remember looking back was that I felt great in my weekend clothes, and I thought that others envied me. They probably didn’t, as all had more money and more clothes than me. But it’s a state of mind. I really thought I was the business. Clothes had a big influence on my thinking and looking at who I was and how I was.

  1. Where did you get fashion inspiration?

Mainly reading Jackie and watching Top of the Pops and The Brady Bunch. Also visitors from London, New York and Limerick as they had more shops. We had two shops that sold clothes, all for the 40 plus. You had to travel 40 miles to Ennis to get anything unusual or go to Penneys for cheap clothes.

  1. What did clothes mean to you?

Even now, I hang my clothes up after use. I never wear good clothes outdoors. I really looked after my clothes as didn’t have many. I would repair them, mend them and adapt like adding embroidery to jeans and jackets. In one year period I would be most likely to buy 3 pieces of clothes and two pairs of shoes as well as underwear. I had a green corduroy coat with a hood that I wore for 6 years.

  1. What did you want your clothes to say about you?

I think I wanted them to say I was important and I was in fashion. I wanted people to look at them and desire them like they did with the Bay City Roller outfit. There was a sense of power in this even if it was only actually going on in my head.

  1. Did coming from a small town and/or Ireland impact your fashion, or how you accessed it?

Yes this was the biggest impact as the shops were very limited and the older people in the town, including the shop owners, wanted to control and influence what you wore. They wanted you to look “respectful”. Also everyone knew everyone so it was hard to get away from this control. If you went to Penneys in Ennis you could walk around, look at clothes, try them on, and shop assistants didn’t care what you bought. Also so much variety.

The families who were rich and had cars could go to Ennis and Limerick and even London when they wanted. We had to thumb a lift. I got IR£14 a week working in Wally’s. I kept IR£7 and gave Dada IR£7. At that time IR£7 would pay for Saturday disco and burger on way home and a new top or shoes or jeans for Saturday night. We were limited living in a small town. You would see clothes in the Sunday paper or Jackie mag and never be able to aspire to have them. No mail order or online then.

  1. Did you label yourself as part of a group or subculture?

Not a subculture. According to my clothes, I didn’t really identify as part of a certain group. 

  1. Were you part of a group of people who dressed the same?

Yes, we dressed the same because we followed what was fashionable and copied bands. People from bigger towns who were more fashion conscious, we followed those from Limerick and Dublin. I didn’t want to be separate from my peer group and stand out, I wanted to blend in and not invent anything new or lead anyone.

  1. Was there any ethical or political motivation behind your style or was it purely for the fashion?

Purely for fashion, but I was not disheartened by any disapproval from the bigots in the local community. I wanted to follow trends and be accepted by my friends, all who dressed in the popular style of the times.

Appendix 2: Interview Transcript

Interviewee: Patricia Spellman (as seen in fig. 5)

Consent form for use of material: completed 22/01/22

  1. Did you label yourself as part of a group or subculture?

Yes, we were called the modern goths.

  1. Were you part of a group of people who dressed the same?

The group consisted of 8 of us, 5 girls, 3 lads. We all wore dark colours, sometimes with a small bit of silver or red on birthdays etc.

  1. Were you emulating anyone’s style e.g. a band or singer, a famous figure, a person you knew?

I loved Dolores O’Riordan from the Cranberries, and when she used to stay in Kilkee during the summer, I used to copy her clothing style. Usually long black dresses, with black Doc Marten boots, leather jackets, neck halters, lots of skull and bone jewellery. Our makeup was always similar, dark eyes, light pale faced makeup, with pop of black lipstick.

Even though it was unusual for men/boys to wear makeup or dress differently in those days, none of our group saw any difference between men and women in a dress code and lads that wore makeup were not called names back then. We didn’t see it as different, nor did our parents. We were all very accepting of each other and loved change. I find it very sad in these times that people get labelled for choosing to wear and be who they wish. You’d imagine in Dada’s time it would have appeared new, but there were TV stars, men and women wearing great clothing and makeup and people admired them. 

Society made people harden towards what they saw as “different”, but to this day there’s 7 of that 8 left, and we still have an outing in Limerick with other goths. It’s nice to dress up in our regalia once again.

  1. Was there any ethical or political motivation behind your style or was it purely for the fashion?

While no ethical or political motivation was there for how we dressed, we felt united as friends with a common fashion, makeup and moral sense. That we will choose how we want to look, not what THEY wanted us to look like. They being the nuns and holy fathers, they didn’t like our style, so we just wore more and they gave up.

  1. Where did you get your clothes from at the time?

In the early years, 12-15 years old, Martina and Mary would send class stuff from the UK. I’d be so delighted with something nobody else had. I used to take Anne’s makeup, haha, and get a wallop, but she had good makeup.

Then once I started working, I bought my own clothes from 2 shops that sold alternative clothing in Limerick. The Hidden Cellar was my favourite, and The Gothic Globe. Both now gone, replaced with modern shops.

  1. How important was fashion to you and keeping up with your style? What did your style mean to you?

Fashion was important, as those around me, Mary, Anne, Tina, always had the latest trends. Martina was a jeans and fashionable blouse type. Anne, leather jeans, tight tops and small jackets. Mary wore skirts back then sometimes, she always looked so pretty going to Olympia, she’d outshine her pals. I used to beg Mary to dress me up and bring me to the disco – I was about 8 then. But I loved looking at how different they all were.

My own choice would come eventually, from becoming friends with many Limerick people, including Dolores and Rachel Clohessy, and I loved those beautiful gothic clothes. That’s what we all wore, we stood out, but we enjoyed the attention too. Some people used to gasp at the makeup, but they all knew we were good people. We were living our lives as we grew up, and goth was a big part of mine. Lord knows, being a goth and the good friends made was always one of the things fashion brought to me, people who were like-minded, open-minded, not stuck in a past era.

Now I like to wear a mix of clothing, if I’m going out to an outdoor gig, I will still go goth. But I do like to dress in skirts, dresses, and different eras at this time. The 20s was a great era for fashion, I like a lot of their styles.

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