The Olivier family: Kirk, Annie , Kate, Riley and Taryn.

Finding their creative solace in a safe place

The Olivier family moved to Kingscourt from South Africa in February 2020 in the middle of Storm Dennis to make a better life for their then family of four.

Mother of three Taryn distinctly remembers the adjustment for the family, having been in New Zealand for three months and experiencing peak summer temperatures there, coming to the wind and rain of Ireland.

She studied fashion designing and has a creative flair. Taryn worked for a digital design company in Durban in South Africa, before moving to Ireland.

Married for nearly four years, her husband loves graphic design and the “technology side of things.”

The pair combined their passions to create Kingscourt Designs, a graphic design company run from their home in Erindale, Kingscourt.

“We just said let’s go for it,” Taryn said of the decision to start their own business, adding that they “have to be creative”.

“We have the equipment here, so we said let’s just do it, because it is ultimately what we want to do,” Kirk added.

The pair would like to design full time and hope to someday have their own shop in the town. Currently they have printer, lathe, laser etching machine and computers in a room in their family home. They design cups, t-shirts, water bottles, posters, banners – anything you want designing they will create, outsourcing the work if they do not have the facilities.

“We both do design work, it’s more of a hobby at the moment but we would like to take it further,” Kirk said.

“We love being creative,” Taryn affirmed.

Showcasing some examples of their work, Taryn shows trinket bowls, ‘best teacher’ mugs made for their daughters’ school teachers, fundraising t-shirts and personalised chopping boards.

A particular favourite of Taryn’s is one with a mixture of words comprised of English, Afrikaans and Zulu, languages used in South Africa. She explains the word ‘Hadida’, a long-beaked big South African bird, which sits on the rooftops, often wakening people with a high-pitched squeal.

‘Bunny chow’ she explained, is a traditional curry where you cut a loaf of bread into a hollow bowl shape, fill it with curry and place the cut bread on top. As she points to the word ‘mielies’, meaning corn on the cob, she smiles.

“In South Africa growing up we had ladies with big, enamelled basins,” she began.

“They would have come straight from the farm,” she said, explaining that corn on the cob was stacked in the basin, carried on the women’s heads as they walked for hours shouting “mielies!”

“Everybody would count their coins and run out,” she laughed fondly.

Asked why they came to Ireland, Kirk explained South Africa is a “beautiful country” with a “difficult situation.

“Mainly safety,” he gave as their reason.

He explained that crime in South Africa is violent, unemployment is high and education and safety for their young family was a main concern.

“They don’t just break into a house to steal something - it’s always got to be violent.”

As a white person living in the country, it is difficult to get a job as government documents do not have the facility for this group of people.

“They have all the other ethnic groups but not white, you can’t apply for the job because there’s no facility for it.”

For the future of their three daughters, Annie (12), Kate (14) and Riley (1), the couple knew they had to leave their home.

“For them to study and look for a future in South Africa, it’s just pointless,” Kirk said.

“They can go and play outside here; they can walk to town.

“You can’t do that in South Africa.”

“Every South African you meet will tell you the same story.”

The couple are looking forward to designing the next chapter of their lives for their young family.