Petite farmer has big impact with TV makeover

Mayo sheep farmer Veronica Mannion may be petite at just 5ft 1, but she certainly made a big impact with her makeover on The Style Counsellors on RTÉ One television last Tuesday night.

The 44 year-old from Louisburgh, who is married to Richard, has two teenagers Caroline (17) and Richard (15), and runs a holiday home business, Devlin Farm Life which normally keeps her busy from Easter right up to October.

“We have Blackface sheep which are a tradition in my husband’s family along with hens and two dogs and we also rent out the holiday home. Up to 2019, it was 99% guests from abroad. We had a lot of Americans, Canadians, Germans, Swiss and French.

“We also had people from places like India and Korea where they visited Ireland to see their family working in Dublin and then wanted to see the countryside. People are very interested in Irish farming and rural life,” said Veronica.

Last year, we had all Irish people staying. Getting ready for guests keeps me very busy as everything has to be perfect.

Between the farm and her business, she has little time to ponder her fashion choices apart from ensuring that she is wearing that all-important sunscreen all year around. However, with her brother’s 40th birthday looming, she was eager to find a statement outfit and generally reinvent her look.

Enter Style Counsellors presenters Suzanne Jackson and Eileen Smith for the second episode in the series. They offered lots of advice on daily dressing for a petite frame in a bid to deter Veronica from taking a scissors to jeans and other clothes that swamp her.

Suzanne selected three showstopping outfits from Irish-owned boutiques and shops for Veronica with the assistance of Eileen who took part virtually due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Eileen’s key advice was to eschew endless fast fashion and instead to go for quality pieces that will stand the test of time.

Veronica, whose style icon is Gillian Anderson, got the chance to pamper herself with a hair and make up transformation and stunned when she donned the ensemble of her choice, a striking black jumpsuit.

She was thrilled with her glamorous new look which complemented her petite figure to perfection. Her children were delighted with the transformation. The feedback on social media was also enthusiastic, with one follower on Twitter saying: ‘Everyone should feel like Veronica feels now every day.’

It was a fantastic experience. It gave me something to look forward to and I learned a lot about the impact of fast fashion. I learned to think about what I need when I go shopping for clothes, in the same way I shop for food. The advice was to dress like French women who don’t buy a lot but who buy very well.

“I had great conversations with the hair stylist and the make up artist and my daughter who has a great interest in farming, really enjoyed seeing how things run behind the scenes of the programme. I would really recommend availing of the services of a stylist as it’s worthwhile in the long run,” said Veronica.

While lockdown has meant she hasn’t got a chance to show off her new wardrobe, she is looking forward to dressing to impress when restrictions are lifted. “My cousin told me I could wear my jumpsuit around the house,” laughed Veronica.

The Style Counsellors airs on RTÉ One on Tuesday nights at 8:30pm.