From small rooms to large houses, husband and wife team Danny and Noreen Callaghan have been helping transform homes in Roslea for more than three decades.
n a small community with a Main Street boasting just two shops alongside beauty and hair studios, plus two local pubs, the couple have evolved their business to become the go-to place for anything interior related.
That’s why recent news of their retirement has led to a flurry of panicked phone calls as people rush to get their long overdue rooms completed before the couple’s curtain call on their combined creative talents.
For Noreen, who grew up in the countryside in Madden, the youngest of 11 children, the make-do-and-mend attitude served her well when it came to starting her own business.
From what was initially an idea to run a tile shop, she soon found herself sitting at her mother’s sewing machine running up curtains for customers.
An artistic child, she studied art at A-level along with maths, skills which have also served her well as her business evolved.
She says: “Where I grew up in the country there were no careers for anyone who loved art so I went on to do a higher diploma in maths and statistics and became a teacher for a while, but it wasn’t for me.
“I met Danny in the Hillgrove Hotel in Monaghan. His sister was married to my brother. He was from Roslea and after we married 38 years ago, we had the idea of opening a tile shop.
“Danny had served his time as a plasterer, but soon also had to learn how to tile. My brother was a tiler so he taught him.
“We opened a wee shop 32 years ago and we weren’t very busy, there weren’t too many coming through the door.
“Then a neighbour who got her kitchen tiled asked if I could do her curtains.
“I did all the sewing at home and my mum had given me the sewing machine so I had a go and they turned out really good.”
From tiles and curtains to adding vinyls and carpets, the business just kept growing due to demand, moving from a small outlet in the local Enterprise Centre to the impressive Roslea Tiles and Curtains showroom it is today, located at the end of the Main Street.
It is a landmark building in the village, having previously served as a doctor’s surgery and a pub and restaurant.
Danny (62) and Noreen (64) also made it their family home, raising their daughter Anne-Marie, a musician and artist, and scientist son Dr Tony Callaghan. They now have two grandchildren.
Beside the house is an interior design showroom which is like a treasure trove of beautiful homewares featuring everything from occasional tables to glass vases, mirrors, artwork and lamps.
At the back of the showroom is where the magic happens. A selection of ceiling lights and chandeliers hang over a table where Noreen matches paints with curtain fabrics, tiles and carpets for her customers.
Over more than 30 years the couple have had clients from north and south who appreciate the personal touch.
While Noreen helps coordinate rooms by helping customers choose everything from paint colours to floor finishes, curtains and blinds, Danny still tiles and also hangs the finished curtains.
It’s a dream team and being located just a quarter of a mile from the border at Monaghan, a large part of their customer base has been in the Republic of Ireland.
Meeting so many people has been part of the joy for Noreen but, especially in the early days, it wasn’t without the odd slip up.
She laughs as she recalls: “Roslea has always been a safe place where people would leave their doors unlocked.
“We had an order for a new vinyl floor for a bathroom and the lady said she wouldn’t be at home but the door would be open and to just go on in.
“Danny let himself in, lifted the old vinyl and the laid the new. It wasn’t long before we heard he had gone into the wrong house.
“Of course the lady who got the new vinyl was thrilled, if not a little surprised, to come home and find a new floor in her bathroom. She knew her neighbour was getting new vinyl and realised what had happened.”
In another early commission Noreen made magnificent new curtains for a customer’s “good” sitting room.
Again, she laughs as she recalls: “This lady kept talking about her ‘good velvet curtains’ which she already had in the room. She wanted me to hem these ‘good curtains’ which she had had for 25 years for another room. She wanted them to be 75 inches long and I made them 57 inches. I was mortified.”
Another big country trend was getting your house done up in preparation for a wake.
Noreen and Danny have been on hand to transform homes in double quick time in preparation for mourners who traditionally visit wake houses in rural areas.
She says: “It happened often but not so much now. If someone was diagnosed with a terminal illness, they would have got us in to freshen up some of the rooms for the wake.
“We are doing houses now for the next generation. The first kitchen Danny tiled, the son of that house has now built one of his own and we are doing that.
“Children brought into the shop in prams are now our clients.
“We’ve also had curtains made for people in the Isle of Man and London who have links to the local area.”
Now looking forward to putting their feet up they are sad to be saying goodbye to not only their business but their home.
Noreen is looking forward to retirement but says demand is stronger than ever, especially post pandemic as people got to spend more time at home and are investing even more in how it looks.
She adds: “It has been a joy. For many people decorating their house, it can be a daunting experience.
“Most people know what they like and it has been great to be able to help them choose what colours to do, what suite to buy and everything from the fabric to the flooring.
“Sometimes it involves so much money that people feel under pressure trying to get it right.
“We’ve done many of the big new houses in the country as well as just helped people pick new flooring or potter around the showroom for a new lamp or mirror. The door has been open to everyone.
“I will miss the people we have met. Some jobs can take six months from start to finish and there is great satisfaction seeing the outcome and how delighted the customers are with the final result.
“The premises could be used for so many purposes but I would love to see it carried on as it is and maybe a young couple take it over with the man stepping into Danny’s role and the woman doing the design.”