Cou­ple who light up each other’s lives

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Living - - BONDINGS -

Lamp maker Eoin Shan­ley and mar­ket­ing guru Yvonne Mc­garry are to­gether 10 years and have two girls, writes An­drea Smith

YVONNE Mc­garry met Eoin Shan­ley through friends in a Dun Laoghaire bar in 2007. As they got chat­ting, they found that they re­ally liked one an­other. Yvonne was at­tracted to Eoin’s big smile and height and found him hand­some, but she thought the jumper he was wear­ing was so “hor­rific”, it was al­most a deal-breaker.

“It was a qual­ity jumper,” the af­fa­ble and witty Eoin protests, adding that the jumper mys­te­ri­ously dis­ap­peared once they started dat­ing and was never seen again. Funny that. “I thought Yvonne was gor­geous and I was at­tracted to her fan­tas­tic mind. She has an ex­tra­or­di­nary way of think­ing that I find stim­u­lat­ing.”

By their own ad­mis­sion, Eoin is softer and more in touch with his fem­i­nine side. Yvonne, who es­chews sen­ti­men­tal­ity, says she’d def­i­nitely win in an ar­gu­ment. He puts this down to hav­ing had a very happy child­hood in Monkstown grow­ing up in the mid­dle of four sis­ters.

His el­dest sis­ter, Keelin, is the newly-an­nounced RTE Six One News pre­sen­ter, and then there’s Muire­ann, Emma and Ni­amh. His mum Orna, a phys­io­ther­a­pist, passed away from ovar­ian can­cer in 2006. His dad is Pro­fes­sor Derry Shan­ley, for­mer dean of the School of Den­tal Sci­ence at Trin­ity Col­lege, who is now mar­ried to Eoin’s step­mum June. Eoin’s two pas­sions were al­ways fish­ing and mu­sic, and he stud­ied fish-farm­ing in Tralee when he left school. He worked in a fish­ing tackle shop in Lon­don for a year, and then stud­ied business, joined a cou­ple of bands and at­tended the Rock School in Bal­lyfer­mot. He worked as an ac­tor for a while, but ul­ti­mately de­cided it wasn’t for him.

When he and Yvonne met in their 30s, they were sur­prised they hadn’t en­coun­tered one an­other sooner as both did stints at the Rock School, played in bands and knew the same peo­ple. Yvonne grew up in The Naul, Co Dublin, and has three younger sib­lings, Aine, John and Ni­amh. Her mum Fidelma is a for­mer nurse, and her dad Noel died aged 52 from a heart at­tack. De­scrib­ing her­self as a stu­dious and ide­al­is­tic young­ster, she did a phi­los­o­phy de­gree at UCD, after cour­ses in jour­nal­ism and business and, of course, at­tended the Rock School.

Her ca­reer was prin­ci­pally in sales and mar­ket­ing and she spent four years in Lon­don, and then worked in Mi­crosoft Ire­land for 13 years, which she loved. She left her po­si­tion in Septem­ber to be­come a self-em­ployed mar­ket­ing con­sul­tant. While she was still liv­ing in Lon­don, Yvonne bought a 200-year-old mud and stone cot­tage in Leitrim that needed to be re­stored. When she met Eoin, he joined her in the restora­tion project and they had great fun add- ing a thatched roof and do­ing it up at week­ends. While they have since sold it, it is part of Leitrim’s GreenDoor eco-houses.

Yvonne and Eoin were mar­ried in an art gallery in Leitrim in 2010, and they held their re­cep­tion on a barge. They are proud par­ents to Orna, who will turn eight this week, and Alice, six, and the fam­ily have a dog, Bo Selecta. She’s fe­male too, con­sol­i­dat­ing Eoin’s des­tiny to be sur­rounded by women in life — not that he’s com­plain­ing. The fam­ily

‘I’m bril­liant at pony­tails, but my plaits are ap­palling’

lives in Del­gany, and hav­ing been made re­dun­dant from his sales man­ager job in a fish­ing tackle com­pany in 2015, Eoin be­came a stay-at-home dad. “I’m bril­liant at do­ing the girls’ pony­tails, but ap­par­ently my plaits are ap­palling,” he laughs. Yvonne says that Eoin has his own ver­nac­u­lar that the girls have picked up. This can be baf­fling to their teach­ers and class­mates, she laughs.

Also in 2015, Eoin be­gan mak­ing lamps and mood light­ing from old tim­ber and cop­per pip­ing. us­ing skills he ac­quired dur­ing the Leitrim ren­o­va­tion. While the beau­ti­ful and dis­tinc­tive lamps were for his own home, friends started put­ting in re­quests and soon his new business, Cop­per Fish Stu­dio, was born. The hand­crafted lamps are made us­ing nat­u­ral and up­cy­cled ma­te­ri­als, such as drift­wood and tim­ber from old boats, and Yvonne helps with the web­site. He first started sell­ing them through In­dus­try on Drury Street, and they are now in sev­eral out­lets and on­line. He also de­signed the fab­u­lous rope and cop­per light­ing sys­tem which is used through­out the Kilkenny shop ground floor. He does be­spoke or­ders as well, and state­ment pieces for the cor­po­rate world.

After drop­ping the girls to school, he works “ham­mer and tongs” at the business un­til they come home again, and of­ten works in the evening at the business in the garage. He has just ac­quired an in­dus­trial unit, so Yvonne can “wave good­bye to bits of wood all over the house”.

“You can fol­low Eoin around the house and know where he has been, be­cause there’s a tool left here and a piece of wood there,” says Yvonne. “I’d say my own worst qual­ity is that I can be a bit too straight some­times.”

“Oh, she can be fright­en­ingly straight,” Eoin teases, “but that’s also to do with her mind, which is her best qual­ity, so it’s worth it. We get on ex­tremely well and we’re in­cred­i­bly re­laxed in each other’s com­pany. We rarely fight, but if Yvonne is an­noyed, she gives lit­tle coughs un­der her breath, whereas I tend to do a blind­ing huff.”

Eoin Shan­ley’s Cop­per Fish Stu­dio lamps are stocked in In­dus­try & Co, Drury Street; Kilkenny, Nas­sau Street; Gal­way, Dou­glas Court and Lavitt’s Quay; Straw­bridge, Mount Usher Gar­dens and West­gate De­sign, Wex­ford.

‘In­cred­i­bly re­laxed in each other’s com­pany’... Yvonne Mc­garry met Eoin Shan­ley in 2007. Photo: David Conachy

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