Who’s done the most for Irish design in the last 20 years? Eleanor Flegg’s choice is not an obvious one

Who’s been the greatest champion of Irish design over the past 20 years? If it were up to me, I’d nominate Margaret Heffernan. Maybe she’s not an obvious choice.

The famously shy (but incredibly powerful) CEO of Dunnes Stores doesn’t put herself up for awards. But under her direction, Dunnes Home has done more to bring interesting, accessible Irish-designed homeware to people across the country than any other agency.

If you’re living in the midlands or along the western seaboard and you want to buy a rug with a bit of attitude or a reasonably priced 300 thread-count sheet, or a really good skillet, you can. Because of Margaret Heffernan.

“Mrs Heffernan had the vision and she’s been involved with every single one of the designers every step of the way,” says Teresa Rafter, who set up Dunnes Stores’ Home division 22 years ago.

Now, Rafter is in charge of

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