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Optometrist Mary eyeing a bright future as she retires after 41 years


Mary Donelan outside her shop.

Mary Donelan outside her shop.

Mary Donelan.

Mary Donelan.


Mary Donelan outside her shop.


OPTOMETRIST Mary Donelan has made her mark on north Wexford over the decades and has just announced that she is retiring.

Marking 41 years in the profession this year, Mary said that she is looking forward to relaxing and spending time with loved ones.

She thanked her patients for their understanding, kindness and loyalty and admitted that most became friends as well as patients over the years.

“I’m from the UK and I did my pre-registration training in Bath and Bristol and went back home to Manchester and met my husband. It was the early days of our marriage when we came to Gorey and lived seven miles outside the town. Gorey in the 1980s was a very different place than it is today but coming from Manchester, I just adapted.

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“I began working with Dr Aidan Ryan and did his Gorey clinic for about three years. At the time, it was only myself and Dr Ryan and his wife in Wexford. We had chemist opticians but at the time they were just given the option to do that without qualification, I had a degree while in Ireland only a diploma was required. After Dr Ryan’s retirement, I worked with him in Wexford and saw an opportunity to open up on my own as I was probably still the most qualified in the area.

“I loved living in the heart of the country and at the time the local pub in the heart of the village and patients used to call in to my house on the way back from the pub to get me to fix glasses. Before I opened up on my own, I used to rent a room from the Loch Garman arms for my clinics. Everything I used for the clinic I would pack into a suitcase and set up at the start each day. I made my name that way and used to have a queue coming up the stairs there”.

Mary said that she wanted to rear a family, therefore created a small family practice that was never big business.

“I began renting the building next to the one I’m in now on Rafter Street. It was about 30 years ago now when I bought the shop and having my own shopfront made a big difference. There was always lots of chatting in the practice, with plenty of laughs over the years. Looking back now, I’m not sure how I built up the business, but it was all with thanks to the dedication of patients. They brought me through good and bad times and kept me going, and I’ll be eternally grateful to them. I met some wonderful people and heard hilarious and very sad stories, with tears of sadness and laughter shared. It wasn’t just an in-and-out place, we really got to know each other over the years and I appreciated that”.

Mary is looking forward to enjoying her garden, traveling and spending time with family in retirement.