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Costume dolls typical of those in Mary Conroy's collection.

Mary Dolling up for big fundraiser

MARY Conroy has so many dolls she won’t be able to bring all 20,000 of them to her fundraiser for Crumlin Children’s Hospital on the first weekend in April.

Out of action for a few years due to back trouble – not, she insists, caused by lugging dolls about – the upcoming fundraiser in Sandyford, Dublin, will be her first for a few years.

The Kilrush woman, who is originally from Pound Street, has been collecting dolls since she was a child and has two houses teeming with them in her back garden.

“I have two big dolls houses in the garden and I have another shed full of prams. Unfortunately, they’re getting packed out now at the minute. They need to be somewhere to be displayed properly,” she mused.

“I have a fair amount of them,” Mary conceded, when it was put to her that 20,000 dolls is a lot.

“It’s a lot of work packing them up in the dolls house and bringing them in boxes. Luckily, the lads are couriers and they have the vans and can take them over for me. I’ve been collecting for a long time; I’m talking over 50 years. I had dolls when I was at home as a child and always loved them. When I came to Dublin, I started collecting the costume dolls. I travel nowhere. I’m an armchair traveller and I buy the majority of them at car boot sales or at charity shops. They know me in most of the places and they put them away for me,” the grandmother of 10 said.

Her husband, Shay, doesn’t mind that his wife is fascinated by her dolls and, in fact, he could be described as their transport manager.

“No, he doesn’t mind, the devil. I don’t drink or smoke. Collecting dolls is my hobby and I do my own thing. Although, he’s my chauffeur because I never learned to drive. He’ll bring me, in all fairness to him. I’m a bit of a mad woman but that’s what I like to do.”
She has come across the odd person who has been put off by 40,000 silent eyes staring intently at them but insists that most people like her dolls.

“There are some people who don’t like dolls but you’d be surprised by the amount of people who come and see them and they are very interested in dolls,” she revealed.

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