Sybil Connolly was born in Swansea on January 24, 1921. On her father's death, John, in 1936, the family relocated to his native Waterford. During those years, Sybil showed a flair for fashion and design and was apprenticed to a London dressmaking firm at age 17.
Sybil returned to Ireland on the outbreak of WWII, taking a job in Dublin at Richard Alan, a firm that both manufactured and retailed women's fashion. In 1952, the firm's designer left, and Connolly stepped into the breach. Her collection that year proved to be an immediate success. The following year, her innovative designs came to the attention of American buyers on a visit to Ireland.
Connolly was renowned for using traditional Irish fabrics, particularly pleated linen, which she deployed in chic designs. Her fashions came to the attention of the American glitterati, culminating with Jackie Kennedy wearing a Connolly for her official Whitehouse portrait.
For more on Sybil Connolly's career and her influence on global fashion, the Dictionary of Irish Biography provides a more detailed portrait: Sybil Connolly.