Sinead O’Sullivan and her husband Alan never really saw themselves living outside their native Dublin, until their little boy arrived and changed the picture.
“We were living in Bray, I was working in the Vero Moda clothes store in Grafton Street and the commute was about an hour and a half to two hours every day,” said Sinead O’Sullivan.
“I did love the job, but it wasn’t nine to five, I was the store manager and there were a lot of demands on my time.”
Her husband had his own courier business in Dublin, and even after their son Jack arrived in the early 2000s, they had little thought of leaving the capital.
“Then a copy of our local newspaper popped through the door, and there was an ad about new homes in Gorey. Something just made us curious. We’d never really considered moving out from Dublin, but we thought: let’s have a look.”
The first visit to north Wexford was not a success.
“It was lashing rain and there were no houses, just a big sign on a pole in a field. We were really disappointed, and we thought that was it. But for some reason, we gave it another go. We arrived back down on a sunny day, the town looked great, we just fell in love with the place,” said O’Sullivan.
“My dream was always to open my own store, to do kids’ fashions, and that was never going to happen in Dublin, just with the rental prices there. We saw that moving down to Gorey could make that happen, we did it, and I know now it was the best decision we ever made.”
After opening their first store in 2005, the couple and their son Jack (who’s just started college in Dublin) now live on the coastal side of the town, a stone’s throw from Kilgorman/Castletown beach. They both work in their two boutiques on the main street in Gorey.
“The lifestyle is great. We have this glorious beach on our doorstep, we’ve built up a good business in the town and it’s such a welcoming, vibrant place,” said O’Sullivan. “There are lots of people who have arrived to make Gorey their home and it’s never been hard to fit in here.”
She and her family have been able to plug in to the wider community in Gorey: she’s the VP of the local Chamber of Commerce, works with the Christmas lights committee and sits on various retail and community committees.
“I think that’s the thing about Gorey: it’s always been a place with great energy. Even in the downturn, the life didn’t go out of the place like it did in a lot of towns. There’s a real can-do attitude. It’s buzzing in the summer from all the Dubs who come down for their holidays, but there’s a lot of life through the year.”
The businesswoman believes more families are going to look at towns like Gorey as places where they can live and thrive outside of our increasingly crowded and expensive cities.
“You look at house prices in Dublin and how people have to commute for hours every day, and wonder about how they keep it up with families to raise,” she said.
“I know nothing would move me back to Dublin now.”