Mary Meenan – Islander whose guesthouse played vital part in Tory’s visitor experience
Fiercely loyal to regular visitors, many of whom became friends
Mary Meenan: exposed the scandal of the owner of island’s hotel demolishing a house belonging to a Co Down film-maker
To islanders and visitors Mary Meenan, known as Mary Denis, who has died after a period of ill-health, was an important part of life on Tory, Co Donegal. The B&B which she ran was a vital part of the Tory experience for many visitors. She was also a whistleblower, who exposed the scandal of the owner of island’s hotel demolishing a house belonging to a Co Down film-maker.
Many visitors to Tory would never stay anywhere else. The house was at least 150 years old and guests were a cross-section of humanity, including aristocrats, government ministers, musicians and artists. The company was always interesting.
Mary Denis attracted such company by being an astute and intelligent woman. She was fiercely loyal to regular visitors, many of whom became friends.
Those who failed to meet her standards were summarily banished. She always shared her perceptive insights into Tory life. Other islanders did not always find these insights comfortable, as she did not idealise her community.
She was central to a spectacular case heard in the High Court. Early on a January morning in 1993 she saw a man or men setting a nearby house on fire. Over the next year, she watched the owner of the island’s hotel demolish the house because it blocked the hotel’s sea view. The owner was then in New Zealand.
Mary Denis was outraged at an injustice to an outsider. The house-owner was contacted and brought a case to the High Court, which ruled that hotel owner Patrick Doohan had demolished the house and awarded the owner damages.
As a young woman, Mary Denis spent some time working in hotels in Britain. Then she returned home, married, and established her B&B.
She was predeceased by her husband William, and is survived by her sister Sarah, and family circle.