Donnelly Mirrors opened in Naas 50 years ago


Conor McHugh


Conor McHugh


Donnelly Mirrors opened in Naas 50 years ago

Leinster Leader April 1 1968: Tim McHugh, Hugh Nevin, Tom Maher, Pat Delaney and Michael Cooney. Front: Bill Gamble, , Seamus Dowd, Peter McDermott and Sean Dunne

It is, as of this month, 50 years since Donnelly Mirrors was established in Naas.

April of 1968 saw the establishment of the firm in Ireland, wich made mirrors for cars.

A European presence for the Michegan based Donnelly Corporation, the intention was to service the European car market — and indeed for many years mirrors made in Naas found their way into millions of French, German and Italian made cars.

Even today, in older Renault, Peugeot and Citreon cars, if you look at the back of the black plastic casing around the rear view mirror, you’ll see the word “Donnelly”. At its height, the Naas facility had in excess of 400 employees. It closed in July 2006.

The Leinster Leader reported on the opening of the new plant in 1968 — quoting John Fenlon Donnelly, the Irish American who had brought the family company to Ireland.

“What really made the greatest impression on me in selecting Ireland,” said Mr Donnelly, “was the climate. Not the climate outdoors but the business climate,” the Leinster Leader quoted him as saying.

“In statements by government officials and from labour leaders and business men, one theme dominates. If Ireland is to grow and prosper, if the standard of living is to increase, it can only be done by increased agricultural and industrial productivity.

“This is the key to any country’s success and any company’s also.”

The then Minister for Industry and Commerce George Colley was also quoted as welcoming the new plant, in particular, its emphasis on exporting.

The first intake of workers were Bill Gamble, Seamus Dowd, Peter McDermott, Sean Dunne, Tim McHugh, Hugh Nevin, Tom Maher, Pat Delaney and Michael Cooney.

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