Pride of the county

22 February 2021

County Dry Cleaners is doing Letterkenney, County Donegal proud as it goes that extra mile to ensure its local hospital has clean scrubs and continues to serve its local community. Kathy Bowry reports

County Dry Cleaners in Letterkenney, County Donegal, just south of the border between the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland, is a small business with a big heart. Like many others, at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in spring last year, the operators were unprepared for what was to come but by the time the first lockdown was in play, County Dry Cleaners was rising to the challenge.

County Dry Cleaners (which also advertises itself on its shop front as a steam laundry service) is a well-established, family business that has been keeping Letterkenney clean for nearly 40 years. As well as providing general drycleaning, Joe and his daughter, Loretta Kelly, also provide laundry services both domestic and commercial, including a contract with the HSE (public health and social care services provider to everyone living in Ireland) and additionally specialises in wedding dresses and curtains. “We also cater for hotels, guesthouses, B&Bs and hairdressing salons and offers towel and tea towel rental,” says Loretta. All this is squeezed in between 8.30am-6pm Mondays to Saturdays.

When lockdown was announced in March, and the health services began to come under pressure, Loretta turned to Facebook to offer help. She posted: “For any of our hard working healthcare professionals in the HSE who are under enough pressure at the minute and don’t have time to get uniforms cleaned for work feel free to call and I will have these done for you free of charge and delivered back to the hospital for you within a few hours.” This solicited 186 responses and 61 comment and prompt take-up from the local hospital.

She later Facebooked: “Just a quick update, guys, for anyone who sees our van on the road tomorrow or the shop lit up we are also in the frontline of the Coronavirus helping keep the going on clean curtains, Jcloths, mops, hoists, sling sheets, uniforms etc as we are a main contractor for them. So please don’t think we are being careless. We are open and out there for a reason.”

It is a service that is much appreciated, as nurse manager A McGinley, intensive care unit, Letterkenney University Hospital, wrote to Joe and Loretta: “On behalf of all the staff and I, we would like to thank you for your generous act of keeping our scrubs clean.

“We greatly appreciate your continued generosity during this difficult time that we are all faced with. Thank you again for your support of our ICU staff. Take care and continue to keep safe.”

Of her father, Loretta says: “I think he must be one of the the oldest bosses still at his work at 6am every morning and he turns 77 this year. So, it is safe to say he loves the place.”

KELLY, HERO: Joe Kelly has been cleaning scrubs and uniforms for health workers at the local hospital free of charge since the pandemic began
PRIDE OF PLACE: Loretta Kelly and assistant Siobhan McLaughlin are proud to serve their community
STEAMED UP: County Dry Cleaners has a large menu of services
INSIDER INFO: The business in Letterkenney has been going for 40 years

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