Former President Mary McAleese showed her support for Donegal design while meeting US President Joe Biden this week.

Mrs McAleese was seen wearing a leather bag made by Buncrana designer Orla O’Hagan of Orla Vera Accessories yesterday.

The statement strap of the bag caught the attention of Orla’s fans, who quickly messaged the designer after seeing it on the news. 

Mary McAleese at Dublin Castle wearing an Orla Vera ‘Vera’ bag

We are so delighted that she is championing our small Irish business on such a historic day,” Orla said.

Mrs McAleese wore the ‘Vera’ bag while visiting Leinster House for Biden’s speech, and later attended a banquet dinner for the President in Dublin Castle.

Mary McAleese meeting President Joe Biden (Image RTE News)

The Orla Vera sustainable bags are handmade by Orla, using remnant leather that would have otherwise ended up in the landfill. Orla’s sustainable approach means that most bags are limited edition. 

The bag worn by Mrs McAleese was one of Orla’s original bags when she launched her brand back in 2020. Orla is now wondering how the former president came to be a fan of her designs, as her bags are only available to buy direct or from Ashford Castle.

“If anyone knows when or how she got her bag we would just love to know!” Orla said.

Thursday was an already exciting day for Orla, who was in Dublin for the Design & Crafts Council Ireland’s Irish Business Design Challenge 2023. Orla Vera Accessories was a finalist in the microbusiness category of the competition. Despite missing out an award, Orla enjoyed a valuable day of networking, sharing the story of her business and sustainability in the Tangent, Trinity College.

“It was a great experience,” Orla said.

Orla O’Hagan at the DCCI Irish Business Design Challenge Awards

The new Orla Vera spring/summer colours are out now on Check out her Instagram for updates and styling ideas: