Help in a time of need

Dr Mark Kelly is a GDP in Dublin, and President of the Irish Dental Benevolent Society.

What is your professional background?
I qualified from Trinity in 2000, and then did a year’s vocational training. In 2006, I opened Shelbourne Dental in Dublin’s Docklands with my friend and former classmate Dr Karl Cassidy. I’ve also worked as a part-time supervisor in the Dublin Dental School, but I’m currently taking a year out from that.

How did you first get involved with the IDA?
When I was in dental school, I got into web design. Ciara Murphy, who was the Chief Executive of the IDA at the time, approached me and asked me if I would help design a website for the IDA. I was also involved in the CPD Committee for a while, and served on the Editorial Board of the Journal of the Irish Dental Association for a number of years.

How did you get involved with the Irish Dental Benevolent Society?
I became a member of the Benevolent Society in 2006. I was Treasurer for five years and I’m currently in my second year as President. I really like the work and it’s extremely rewarding because you really do feel like you’re helping.

What services does the Benevolent Society offer?
The main aim of the Society is to provide financial assistance to dentists or their families when the need arises. We provide the basics for people, making sure that there’s bread on the table, that they can pay their electricity bill. Then there are cases where we have bigger bills to pay, like helping the daughter or son of a dentist through college, or dentists that have passed away and have left their spouse in a difficult situation. The great thing about the Society is we have no overheads. Every cent that people donate goes to helping the grantees. Since Covid started, there has been a lot of pressure on some colleagues out there, so we’re trying our very best and share out our resources as carefully as we can.

How can dentists contact the Society if they need help?
The best way for people to contact us is through our website – – or via email at, which we check every day.
It often won’t be the dentist themselves that comes to us; it will be a colleague who might know that they are having a problem. Usually when we are approached, we’ll ask the dentist to fill out a MABs form (available on our website). Based on that, the committee meets to discuss the case. No names are ever mentioned at meetings. The only people who know the identity of the person are the President and the Treasurer.

How can dentists donate to the Society?
There is a standing order form on our website, and we would hugely appreciate if people would consider committing to a regular donation, however small. The money that comes in to us goes straight to the people that need it. There’s no wastage at all.

What has been the single biggest benefit of IDA membership for you?
Working as a dentist can be quite isolating, and I certainly see that first hand in dealing with cases in the Benevolent. Being in the IDA helps reduce the pressures and stresses of the job and that feeling of being on your own. It’s great to know there’s somebody there you can pick up a phone to, or you can talk to your colleagues at an IDA meeting about issues you’re having.

How would you like to see the Association progress into the future?
More than ever before there’s so much red tape and paperwork to the actual business of dentistry. From my point of view as a business owner and as a dentist, if the IDA can continue to promote and improve their offerings with webinars and online CPD, that will certainly have a huge appeal for people in practice. There’s a lot that the IDA is doing right; there’s very little I could fault. I’ve been a member since I became a dentist 21 years ago and I love the collegiality of it.

Mark lives in Terenure in Dublin with his wife Siobhan. They moved house recently so he’s currently brushing up on his DIY skills. He enjoys landscape photography, and plays tennis in Rathgar. He loves to ski, and looks forward to hitting the slopes in February 2022, Covid permitting!