Millinery is an exciting and vast subject. Private tuiton is offered on a one-to-one basis through a range of courses held in the studio in Portlaoise Co. Laois tailored to your needs and experience level.

Gift Vouchers are available for these courses and make a great present for the creative person in your life.

Felt, Straw & Sinamay Course :

Learn how to work the 3 main millinery materials; fur felt, parasisal straw & sinamay from raw materials to 3 professionally finished pieces using traditional millinery techniques and professional equipment.

Great for all levels including beginners and perfect for anyone who would like to get a really good grounding in blocking which is the basis of proper Millinery.

Timeframe: 4 days. Cost : €500.

(Hats in image made by a beginner student.)

Advanced Windowpane Sinamay Weekend Course:

Learn the couture technique of working with windowpane sinamay to create an invisible edged brim and how to attach it to a plain sinamay crown which you will also block.

This course is more suited to advanced students who have already completed the the felt, straw and sinamay course or equivalent.

Timeframe: 2days. Cost: €300


(Hats in image made by students of the course.)

Fabric Covered Foundation Hat Weekend Course:

Learn how to block a foundation fabric base and how to cover it with a fabric, wire it, trim it and how to attach it to the head.

This course is suitable for advanced students who are already proficient in blocking.

Timeframe: 2 Days. Cost: €300

Silk Roses & Sinamay Weekend Course:

Learn how to create beautiful silk roses using traditional French flower making techniques.

Learn how to block, stiffen, wire and finish a sinamay base to attach your beautiful roses to.

This course is more suited to advanced students who have already completed the felt, straw and sinamay course or equivalent.

Timeframe: 2 days. Cost: €300

Alternatively contact me to discuss what you would like to learn and I will create a custom course for you.


10.30am – 4.30pm approx with an hour break for lunch

Please note that the reason I hold the courses on a one-to-one basis is to work with each individual students experience level and pace meaning that some people may complete the courses quicker than others. I charge for the course content not the time it takes you to complete it!

To Book A Course :

Have a look through the Course Available and contact me with the course that you are interested in and the dates that suit you. If they are available you will be sent bank details for a transfer of your deposit to secure your dates. This deposit is non-refundable/transferable and will be deducted from the total course cost, the balance of which is due on the first day of your chosen course. Once your payment is received you will be sent a list of materials depending on the course you have chosen along with links to accommodation in the area, directions, etc.

If you have any queries or requests please do not hesitate to get in touch:

Email: Tel: 00353(0)877563601


Q. What dates are the courses held on?
A. Courses are held throughout the year. Dates are available on a first come first served basis and are secured with a deposit through bank transfer. If you have certain dates coming up that suit you call to book 0877563601, if they are available you will be sent details for a bank transfer of your deposit to secure them or I will suggest alternative dates. Courses run 10.30am – 4.30pm with an hour break for lunch.

Q. How many people are in the class?
A. Courses are held on a one-to-one basis unless you would like to bring a friend to do the course with you and receive 10% off each tuition fee. The one-to-one basis ensures that the course can be tailored to your pace and experience level and you are not waiting on use of equipment and can benefit from the expert guidance to the full.

Q. Where are the courses held?
A. The courses are held in Portlaoise, Co. Laois. Once your dates are secured I will send you on directions.

Q. What is the price of the course? How much is the deposit?
A. Prices of each course are listed above. If you would like to bring someone to do the course with you, you will receive 10% off each tuition fee. The deposit required to secure your dates is 50% of your chosen course fee which is deducted from your total and your balance is due on the first morning of your course. Deposits are non-refundable and non-transferable.

Q. How do I pay my deposit
A. Once we have discussed dates you will be sent details for a bank transfer of your deposit. Please note your dates are not secured until your deposit is received.

Q. What is included in the course?
A. Once your dates are secured you will be sent a materials list with links to suppliers that you click on to bring you directly to each product. Included: One-to-one tailored tuition. Course notes tailored to your chosen course. The use of professional millinery equipment including my personal hatblock collection, spinners, hat steamer, brushes, scissors, pliers, separator, blocking springs, blocking cord, runner downer, pin pusher, irons, rulers, measuring tape, cling film, pressing pads, Millinery stiffeners, etc.

Q. Do I need any millinery experience? Do I need to be able to sew?
A. No! Courses are held on a one-to-one basis so I will be walking you step by step through each stage working at your pace and experience level.

Q. Do you offer other courses?
A. Yes. If you have more experience contact me with what you would like to study and I will tailor make a course for you.


CANCELLATIONS: If someone needs to cancel their course due to unforseen circumstances the following applies:

Your dates can be transferred to someone else i.e. a friend – no fee applies.

If you cancel your dates at less than 30 days from the start date of your course your deposit will not be refunded.

COPYRIGHT: Students are free to take photographs of their own work however it is prohibited to take images, voice or video recordings of the demonstrations. The handout supplied is copyright to Aoife Kirwan Millinery and it is an infringement of copyright to share, copy or reproduce the content in any way.

INSURANCE: Aoife Kirwan does not accept liability for any lose or damage of student’s property while attending the course. You are not covered for any accidents or illness or any losses or damages arising from such. By booking and paying the deposit students explicitly waive their right for making claims against Aoife Kirwan / Aoife Kirwan Millinery.


I have just completed a millinery course with the very talented Aoife Kirwan. Aoife’s knowledge and attention to detail are second to none. She very much promotes using the highest quality fabrics and techniques and showing you the difference that this will make to the final product. In this course one really learns what goes into making a quality hat/headpiece and the results will speak for themselves. Aoife encourages you to come up with your own ideas and to use your own vision and creativity. Aoife has an abundance of patience and skills and will take the time to show you the techniques until you can grasp them correctly. She is very generous with her knowledge and insights into the millinery world. A one to one course means you receive the true value of her expertise and are not left waiting your turn to ask questions or seek assistance. A true professional at all times I would definitely recommend a course with Aoife and will definitely look into developing my knowledge further on future courses. – Theresa Spillane – Germany

My friend and I spent a week with Aoife this summer and it was the most enjoyable week. Aoife is so knowledgeable and talented in millinery, that I felt I truly learnt a lot and was properly immersed in the millinery experience. After spending the week with Aoife I now feel confident enough to test my newly acquired skills on my own however I have no doubt I will be looking to her for tuition again to further enhance the skills she has already taught me. I would highly recommend this course and it was a great investment in a hobby I love but one that could some day become a business. We drove down from Dublin everyday and it was worth it to experience the one-to-one tuition we received. – Rachel Byrne – Co. Dublin.

I have always had a very keen interest in millinery so I decided to have a look online to see where to start. I came across Aoife’s post about a course held on a one-to-one basis which I knew would suit me. Coming from no background in sewing I can now tell you that from the warm welcome I received on day one made me feel so comfortable. Aoife is a wonderfully talented milliner. She had so much patience and explained everything before we started. Each day I felt amazed with the progress I was making from blocking felt, straw and sinamay. When everything was taking shape and looking amazing I was so proud of what I had achieved. I made 3 hats and they look amazing. I have already booked another course with Aoife and cannot wait to start. I would highly recommend Aoife Kirwan Millinery for anyone who is interested in millinery and wants to learn the right way. – Breda Long – Co. Carlow

After months of searching for millinery courses, I finally stumbled across Aoife’s immersive millinery course. From day one I was completely in awe of the huge range of knowledge and techniques that I learned. Even the threat of a storm could not keep me away! Now I have three beautiful creations and I am already thinking about returning to Aoife to further develop my millinery skills. – Karen Elliffe – Co. Offaly

I recently did a one to one course with Aoife. It was the most interesting and beneficial experience I have ever had. Aoife is a fantastic teacher, brimming with helpful tips and advice. Her profound knowledge of the art of millinery is first class. Her professionalism, patience and kindness know no bounds. If you are interested in millinery then I would highly recommend Aoife’s unique expertise. I can’t wait to book in for my next course. – Ailing O’Neill – Co. Tipperary.

Aoife’s genuine love for her craft is portrayed through the quality of the course she offers. She provides an excellent stock of resources to offer a varied and thorough experience. I loved the step by step notes, so relevant, enlightening and applicable. Aoife is extremely humble and down to earth for such a gifted and proficient milliner. I adored her loyalty to quality materials, she has a wealth of knowledge, and is a true artist. She is friendly, approachable and has a very high standard of excellence and a class about her at all times. I would highly recommend her course to anyone. – Zoe Bane Ui Bhroin – Co. Mayo

Aoife Kirwan Millinery studio 2

I have just completed a millinery course with Aoife. The course was really fantastic and I have to say I learned an awfull lot about millinery in general. Aoife provides a truly excellent course from start to finish accompanied by detailed notes. On the course I completed you will learn the skill of blocking three very different materials using three blocks of your choice (I felt like a kid in a sweet shop). Once the materials have been shaped and stiffened one is introduced to the various skills of hand stitching edges, wires, Petersham, etc. and of course finishing each piece to a very high standard. Aoife has a vast knowledge of millinery and this becomes very apparent when she talks about blocks, fabrics and trimmings. This course has really opened my eyes to the quality and skills behind each piece and has introduced me to wonderful materials such as peachbloom felt and silk dupion, which I will use again and again. I would highly recommend a course with Aoife and I can’t wait to book another one. – Carole Halligan – Co. Dublin

I found Aoife online when searching for millinery courses in Ireland. After I contacted her she quickly came up with a tailored one to one course especially to suit my needs. Aoife is a highly talented, experienced and knowledgeable milliner and I would highly recommend her. – Niam Mooney – Dubai, United Arab Emirates.


I did the intensive millinery course with the lovely Aoife not too long ago, must say that I learnt a lot. I had a fab time learning the art of millinery. Information sheets were a great help and still are. Loved the experience and hope to do some further course with Aoife soon. Cannot recommend her course highly enough, I now have the confidence to go on and take my millinery further. – Christopher Brown, Co. Westmeath.

During the summer I completed a felt, straw and sinamay millinery course with Aoife. I approached the course feeling a little nervous as millinery for me was a past time, with very little experience. However the course exceeded all my expectations and I left the course with confidence to create more pieces. Aoife is a very welcoming person and gives wonderful advice, direction and encouragement. She is also very patient. She has a profound knowledge of millinery skills, the use of different fabrics and encourages creativity. I love the three pieces I created during the course and got the chance to wear one already for a wedding. – Carmel Fitzgerald – Co. Limerick


I became interested in taking a millinery course after I had trouble finding any hats to compliment some outfits I had. I live in the USA. I happened to be going home to Ireland this year and asked Aoife if she could fit me in for a one-to-one sinamay course. Right from the beginning she was so nice and helpful. I had many questions and her answers were always detailed and prompt. I loved every minute of the course. Aoife was professional, patient and informative on all aspects of the hat making process. She opened my eyes to the intricacy and amount of work required to produce a one-off piece. She helped me to choose very different blocks to get the most out of the course and advised on colour combinations and finishing’s. She gave lots of tips based on her own experience, which I believe is invaluable to any novice starting off. I would highly recommend a course with Aoife and will definitely take another one the next time I’m back in Ireland. – Michelle Devaney – USA


I started to pursue my interest in millinery just this year and I can’t believe how much I’ve learned so far. I’ve just completed my second course with Aoife who has opened my mind to the beauty of millinery completely. I loved every minute of each course and the more I learn the more I want to know. Aoife’s courses have been enriching and progressive beyond words. She encourages me to express my own ideas and has taught me that we are only limited by our imagination. She is very patient and generous with her knowledge, and I couldn’t recommend her any higher. – Katie O’Farrell – Co. Kilkenny


I have had the pleasure of attending millinery courses with Aoife Kirwan whereby I have learned how to block in sinamay, felt and straw, to design, to create silk roses, to wire, decorate/embellish and finish what turned out to be unique and wearable designs. Aoife Kirwan is an expert milliner & teacher in that she shares her skills and technical knowledge whilst allowing and encouraging the student’s own creative contribution and desires. My time learning to make hats under Aoife’s expert guidance has been a deeply rich and rewarding experience and she has truly allowed me to unleash my inner mad hatter. If you seek an expert teacher/milliner I highly reccommend Aoife Kirwan. – Joanne O’Hora, Co. Mayo


I have just completed a one-to-one course where you cover 3 aspects of the art of millinery; sinamay, straw & felt. Aoife went above and beyond to share with me an insight into her incredible skill and eye for this amazing craft. Aoife is a wonderful tutor giving me a great start in this wonderful field. I just want to keep learning. I can’t wait to book my next course. – Emma Scotcher, Co. Sligo


I came across Aoife’s website last year and for me it was a fortutious moment. She is truly an artisan and encourages, and assists her students in a non-intrusive manner, to achieve their dream headwear to the highest professional standard. Aoife delivered on all aspects of the course and more. She imparted her knowledge and tips generously. It was a professional course from start to finish, with use of all professional millinery equipment. Aoife’s skill and craftsmanship were to the fore in her tutoring and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend a course of Aoife’s. – Ruth Humphreys, Co. Kildare


I had the opportunity to take Aoife’s millinery master class. Working one-on-one with her was ideal for me as I was able to learn each technique while having her there to guide me throughout the course. Having admired hats for many years I was excited to learn everything I could during my time with her. She made the course interesting and easy to follow along, allowing me to use my ideas and designs to create hats that I can enjoy for years to come. I would highly recommend taking the course. Portlaoise is a great town and Aoife was the perfect host giving hotel recommendations, restaurant ideas, etc. which made my week away from home more enjoyable – Kelley Ross, Co. Cork.

Aoife Kirwan Millinery studio 5

I first became interested in millinery last summer while trying to find a headpiece to wear to the Galway races. I couldn’t find anything suitable on the highstreet and so went to a milliner. Her beautiful array of headpieces was inspiring. I always loved sewing and creativity so I thought millinery would be a great new hobby. There is so much to learn and it is so hard to find good education at a reasonable price! This is where the very talented Aoife Kirwan came in. She is an expert in her field and uses intricate, traditional techniques. She is a patient teacher and generous with her knowledge and equipment. As a teacher myself, I know there is no replacement for one on one tutoring. Online tutorials do not compare. Aoife models the skills required and guides you through them at your own pace, filling any gaps in your knowledge and gently correcting your technique. Her knowledge is vast and impressive as are her detailed notes. I would highly recommend her courses, no matter what stage you are at on your millinery journey! – Michelle O’Malley – Co. Limerick

Aoife Kirwan Millinery studio

I’ve been interested in millinery for a long time, but at the time with a child and work there were no courses that suited me. Now my child is that bit older and I’ve been out of work for sometime I really had my mind set to do a course. I attended the races this year and found out about Aoife’s courses. I emailed Aoife and we organised dates to suit me. During the course I learned about felt, sinamay and straw. Aoife has an amazing talent and was so willing to share it with me. She is very relaxed and helpful. I had an amazing week and loved the one on one tuition. I got to bring home some amazing headpieces that I can’t wait to wear. I’ll be booking my next course very soon. – Catriona Barron – Co. Wexford

Aoife Kirwan Millinery studio 7

I recently had the pleasure of attending a millinery course with Aoife Kirwan. During the course I learned how to work with sinamay, felt and straw and by the end of the week I had (to my astonishment) finished very wearable pieces in each. Before commencing the course I had no experience in millinery or sewing and was worried this would hinder my progress. However it did not as Aoife explained everything very simply. Aoife is very patient and shares her expert knowledge willingly. I thoroughly enjoyed the millinery course, I learned so much and would highly recommend a course with Aoife to anyone who has an interest in learning more about the art of millinery. – Lisa Sheeran, Co. Laois.


Thank you for the amazing millinery course that I did with you. I thoroughly enjoyed myself and learnt lots of new skills. You were very clear, explanatory and have great patience. Looking forward to doing my next course with you. – Sandra Shortall, Co. Tipperary.


If you are thinking of trying out millinery, this is the place to go. I had the pleasure of attending Aoife’s Felt, Straw and Sinamay course and I cannot recommend it highly enough. I arrived on the first morning with a brown cardboard box containing my felt, straw and sinamay and left on the final day with three amazing headpieces. It is only now that I appreciate the hard work that goes into making a handcrafted piece. Aoife’s approach and exceptional teaching ability and her extensive experience within the industry are wonderful attributes and I look forward to returning for another course. – Paula Murphy – Co. Kildare

Having been interested in millinery for some time I was finding it hard to find a suitable course until I found Aoife. I completed her workshop where I gained invaluable knowledge and know how to make some beautiful pieces in felt, straw and sinamay. Her attention to detail and perfection in her pieces is outstanding and she instills this value in her students. I really look forward to another course with her in the future. – Tracy Murphy – Co. Wexford.

I recently had the pleasure of doing a custom week long course under the guidance of the skilled milliner that is Aoife Kirwan at her beautiful studio in Mountrath. I gained considerable knowledge covering several areas of millinery over the course of the week as she demonstrated and guided me in this fine art from blocking to completion with silk roses. I completed two stunning hats and took away some excellent notes for following on future projects. Aoife was patient and a knowledgeable teacher and her guidance and advice was invaluable for a beginner or experienced milliner. I look forward to further tuition with Aoife….Highly recommend. – Frances McGivern – Co. Donegal.

Thoroughly enjoyed the millinery course I did with my Mum this year. Aoife’s knowledge and passion for the art of millinery is evident from the offset. What I really loved about the course was that you knew you were learning proper millinery techniques, no corners being cut here. We managed to both make three beautiful hats under Aoife’s tuition, which we just loved. Time very well spent indeed. – Caraiosa Egan – Co. Tipperary.

Aoife made me feel at ease with her patience and understanding that I had never tried millinery before. It was a whole new world for me and Aoife made me feel comfortable and coached me every step of the way. I was emersed in the world of millinery for the week and loved it. I left with three completed hats and a great understanding of straw, sinamay and felt. I would highly recommend Aoife to a friend. – Leanne Caulfield – Co. Dublin.

Having recently done Aoife’s intensive millinery course I was blown away. I don’t think my mind has stopped going over it all in my head since. Aoife provides such a calm relaxing atmosphere and the perfect environment to learn the art of millinery. Her innate wealth of knowledge is astonishing and she teaches it with sincere passion but also a down to earth nature. Her pure “ghra” for millinery is plain to see. I learnt as much as I could during the course and there was only one massive downfall………… it came to an end!! The days flew by and I was sad it was over. Aoife is a fantastic teacher and I highly recommend this course to anyone with an interest in millinery. I look forward to returning for some more lessons with a true artisan. – Assumpta Connolly – Co. Galway.

Having contemplated doing a millinery course for quite some time now and having done some online research I decided that Aoife’s classes would best suit my needs….. and I was right! My delay in pursuing a craft I greatly admired came from my non-existent sewing and haberdashery skills. Aoife guided me through each process and stitch with patience and professionalism, none of which turned out to be too complicated because of the one-to-one teaching approach Aoife adopts. No question or query went unanswered and her knowledge and passion for traditional techniques was evident throughout the week long course. Aoife also supplies her students with comprehensive notes on each aspect of millinery which have proved a fantastic point of reference as I continue to hone my skills at home. Despite my limited skill set I still managed to walk away with three impressive headpieces and so cannot recommend this course enough. Now all I have to do is decide which course to do next…. – Caoimhe Mc Namara – Co. Clare.

I wanted to learn more in millinery and as I was looking up courses I came across Aoife and found where she teaches is close by to me. I did the felt, straw and sinamay course and was delighted I did this one because I learnt a lot over the five days. I made three hats using sinamay, straw and felt and learnt the different ways of working with all three. I enjoyed it and felt it was well worth doing. I would recommend it to anyone to do. – Sarah Byrne – Co. Offaly.

A superb introduction to the art of millinery. I have come away from Aoife’s course with a wealth of knowledge. Her course is focused on learning and is task orientated with particular emphasis on attention to detail. Aoife is passionate about preserving the traditional techniques of the trade and extremely generous with her knowledge. She passed on lots of hints and tips that would otherwise have taken me years to acquire. I am looking forward to putting into practice the new skills I have learnt. – Virginia Anderson – Co. Down.

I have an admiration for vintage style hats and I am creative but lack the skills to make a hat. Aoife’s one-to-one style course was what I needed as an introduction to millinery. Aoife’s obvious passion is clear by her techniques. There are no glue guns used here! Traditional methods and tools showed me how to handle felt, straw and sinamay. There is great joy in wearing your own designed hat. I loved every minute. It is hard work but that is why milliners take years to train. Aoife did a lovely job giving me the pieces I wanted to learn about in a short time. I’d love to run away with her vintage blocks but she does them more credit than I could imagine. – Lynda Glennon – Co. Dublin.


12 thoughts on “Courses”

  1. Colette Kelly said:

    Hi how are you?
    I am curious to know more about your milinary courses. I am living in Co. Clare, and wonder if you do courses over weekends or school holidays as I would need to travel.
    Thank you,
    Colette Kelly

  2. Lisa Ragosa said:

    Looking to do the 5 day course. Living in co Kerry.
    Wanting to know when the next course is available.
    Do you do beaded jewely and bridal head pieces.

  3. Megan Gill said:


    I’m wondering if you have a 5 day course on in January or February? And where are you based?

    Many thanks,


    • Hi Megan,

      Thank you for your message. If you text (0877563601) or email ( me your phone number I’d be happy to give you a quick call to discuss it and answer any questions you may have.

      Looking forward to hearing from you.

      Warmest regards,


  4. Lisa Ragosa said:

    Wow. Wow wow. Feb 2018
    Is all I can say.
    I know alot of very skilled people, but it makes a special person to be able to teach there skill. I did the 5 day course. If your a complete novice like I was you need at least several 5 day courses. There is a lot to learn. A lot of hands on. I’m hooked. I want to be able to make my mother of the bride hat. For my daughter’s wedding. I will be returning to Aoife to learn more. I love hats. Its something I only ever dreamed of learning. Now I’ve took the leap no going back. Proper millenary.

  5. Lorraine Behan said:

    Hi, I would just like to enquire if you have any upcoming beginner courses ?

  6. Bénédicte Cécile Gué said:

    Very good morning. I would like to express my interest on this training. Can I follow the same course online in french language?

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