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Our History

Learn about the history and evolution of Sue Ryder Ireland. Providing secure and supportive homes for seniors since 1982.

The History of Sue Ryder Ireland

In 1979, Sue Ryder Ireland was established by our founder, Charles McDonald, upon his return from Europe. The inspiration behind this endeavour was a local tragedy involving two elderly women who were assaulted in their own home and sadly passed away shortly after. It was Lilly, Charles' wife, who urged him to create a solution that would ensure seniors could age in a secure and supportive environment.

The Birth of a Foundation

Charles McDonald, deeply moved by Lady Sue Ryder's dedication to supporting those most in need, felt a personal affinity with her mission. He reached out to her with the proposal of establishing a foundation in her honour in Ireland, an initiative that would embody her values and legacy. Lady Ryder gave her blessing, and thus, Sue Ryder Ireland was born.

Once the foundation was in place, a group of committed trustees came together to bring the mission to life. Their first significant task was to identify a location for the first Sue Ryder residence - a place that would embody our ethos of providing a safe, supportive environment for seniors.

The trustees' search led them to the site of an old, disused convent in the heart of Ballyroan, County Laois. They envisioned it as a serene haven for the elderly. Commencing the significant process of transformation, they carefully dismantled the old structure, giving way to a new one. Each stage of construction was a step towards turning their vision into reality.

Original Sue Ryder Board of Trustees
Sue Ryder as a young woman
Sue Ryder on a bench with a member of the board
Sue Ryder with her children

Expanding Sue Ryder Ireland

In 1982, the foundation welcomed its inaugural residents, and the official opening took place in 1984. The ribbon was cut by His Excellency Dr. Patrick Hillary, the President of Ireland, with Lady Ryder also in attendance.

Following the success of the Ballyroan residence, the trustees were inspired to expand their mission, paving the way for growth and service in other regions. This expansion led to the development of additional sites across Ireland, each reflecting the core values of Sue Ryder Ireland – (new tag line to be inserted here) compassion, respect, and quality care. Today, we're proud to provide homes and support in six distinct residences, bringing our unique approach to senior living to communities across the nation.

The Introduction of Sue Ryder Ireland Charity Shops

In order to sustain the foundation's impactful work and ensure its longevity, a pioneering decision was made to introduce charity shops as a source of income and community outreach. At the time, the idea of charity shops was relatively new and unexplored in Ireland, making this move not only innovative but also crucial in bolstering the self-sufficiency of the foundation. These shops, situated across the country, not only generated essential funding, but also facilitated a greater engagement with our local communities, raising awareness and fostering a culture of shared responsibility towards our elderly population.

Abbleylix Chrity Shop - Sue Ryder Charity Shop
Sue Ryder residence Nenagh

Sue Ryder Ireland Today

Today, we take immense pride in the fact that Sue Ryder Ireland is able to provide a secure, comfortable home to 295 residents across six different locations. This includes a total of 284 individual living units, each designed with the utmost consideration for the needs and comfort of our residents.

Our dedicated team is the backbone of the work we do. It comprises 99 committed colleagues who work diligently across various roles to ensure we provide the highest quality of care and support. From care staff to administrators, every single team member plays a crucial role in maintaining the standards of care we have become known for.

But our work does not end there. We are further buoyed by an incredible network of approximately 200 volunteers who graciously donate their time and effort. These selfless individuals contribute to our mission in a myriad of ways, from assisting in our residences to manning our charity shops. Their commitment not only helps to enhance the lives of our residents but also fosters a greater sense of community and shared responsibility across Ireland. Through their support, the spirit of Lady Sue Ryder's mission continues to thrive and benefit those in our care.

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