THE FORMER girlfriend of a convicted drug dealer has revealed how she used her time in prison to set herself on a new path - opening up her own women's fashion business.
Deirdre Moran served three years of a five-year prison sentence in the female wing of Mountjoy Prison for transporting a firearm in 2008.
Moran told John Murray on RTE Radio One that she "had a fair idea" what it was she was being asked to deliver when she was told to pick something up for her one-time boyfriend and father of her child, Sligo crime boss Patrick Irwin.
"I asked no questions, it was literally someone put it into my car … I wasn't actually told because it was on a need-to-know basis kind of thing, so it was put in under my seat. I didn't touch it, I didn't go near it," she said.
She said gardai had been tipped off about the gun and arrested her just outside of Dublin on her way back to Sligo.
"My heart sank and I just knew I was in it up to my eyes so I was just thinking about my son and my family and how I was after letting them all down," she said.
She had an on/off relationship with Irwin - who is now serving a seven-year sentence for possession of nearly €70,000 worth of cocaine - ever since the birth of their son in 2003.
"I suppose with Sligo being a small town we were kind of always in contact and I don't know, back then I was younger and I think I kind of liked the bit of excitement," she said.
She has since cut off all contact with Irwin, although her son visits his father in prison.
She said her experience of prison itself was "not that bad" adding that because she steered clear of drugs she never felt under any real threat of violence.
"Most people are nice, most people are welcoming. Especially with someone coming in who is after just being sentenced to a long sentence and it is their first time in," she said.
"I made a lot of friends but one or two really close friends and we all helped each other out and I have to say it makes it so much easier."
While in prison she used her time learning how to sew and took two online Open University courses in business studies.
"I had never used a sewing machine before. It was a six-month course but I continued on for another six months," she said.
She eventually bought her own machine to work in her cell and has now started a dressmaking business selling her creations online.
"At the start of a business a lot of it is going back into it so you are buying materials and things like that but yeah I can see myself making money once I get up and running."
Moran said she is not making any excuses for her crimes.
"I believe everything happens for a reason so I try not to dwell on it and think 'well, look I made a positive out of the negative that happened'," she said.
"At the time I felt I had no way out of the life because it was really getting pressured on me."
Moran's work is available at 'Dee Moran Dress Making and Styling' on Facebook.