AFTER a long battle with cancer an Annacotty woman went to Lourdes to give thanks for her recovery. While in Lourdes Ann Stones came up with the idea to give the same experience she had in France to those who may not be able to afford it.
Ms Stones got non-Hodgkin lymphomas in 1995.
“In 1997 and 1998 I had chemotherapy. In 2000 I had chemo again. Then I had a stem cell transplant in 2001,” said Ms Stones.
“In 2002 I was going to Spain on holidays and I visited Lourdes on the way. I have been totally cancer free since then thank God.
“I came back then with the idea it would be nice to help anyone who may be sick or disabled or who can’t afford to go to Lourdes,” said Ms Stones.
She opened a charity shop called Lourdes Connect in Gerald Griffin Street and now they are branching out to Castleconnell in the county.
Since opening, the city shop has raised thousands of euros which is donated to the Limerick diocese for their annual pilgrimage to Lourdes.
“It has really kept me going. This has been my recovery as well,” said Ann, who is joined in the shop by over 10 volunteers.
As the shop was going well Ms Stones said they were thinking of employing somebody full-time.
“So we thought let’s see if we could employ someone out the county,” she explained.
They chose Castleconnell and the new shop is fittingly located across from the church on the village’s Main Street.
“We sell clothes, bric-a-brac, paintings, CDs, DVDs, a variety of goods, you name it. We’re also asking people if they have stuff just lying around their homes they can turn it in to a donation. If it’s saleable we will sell it.
“We don’t take money from people, we take their stock and turn it into money. We give it all to the diocese when we have our bills paid,” said Ms Stone.
What they didn’t realise when they planned to open their new shop, less than 10 miles from Limerick city, was they were moving in to a new diocese.
The parish of Castleconnell, Ahane and Montpelier is in the Killaloe diocese.
“We didn’t realise that but it is good because now we will be able to help people from two dioceses. Even though it is the same charity we are not going to mix them, we are keeping it separate.
“Castleconnell is a lovely village and the shop will be run by Brenda McDonough. Some of the locals came up to us when they saw us, they were really excited about something opening in Castleconnell. The shop will be open from Monday to Saturday,” said Ms Stones.
They are also looking for volunteers to help work in the shop.