True spirit of Christmas: Limerick neighbours raise over €12k for very ill boy

Donal O'Regan

Reporter:

Donal O'Regan

Catherine Keane, Liam McNamara, Dolores and Gerry Crowe, Ann Coleman, Kathlyn Coleman, Catherine McCarthy and William Crowe in Castleconnell

Catherine Keane, Liam McNamara, Dolores and Gerry Crowe, Ann Coleman, Kathlyn Coleman, Catherine McCarthy and William Crowe in Castleconnell

WHEN Dolores Crowe heard her neighbours were putting on a benefit for them, all she wanted was enough money to fill the oil tank before Christmas.

Now she can do that, pay off an €8,500 Credit Union loan to make their Castleconnell home more comfortable for son, William, and have some left over.

A  total of €12,720 was raised from the evening in Herbert’s pub for the 13-year-old. William has a “life limiting condition”. He was never fully diagnosed but has epilepsy, recurring chest infections and global development delay.

William attends St Vincent’s and is a full-time wheelchair user. He is fully dependent, 24/7, on family and carers for his needs to be met.

“He doesn’t have speech but has the most beautiful smile,” said Dolores. She said the “driving force” behind the night was Catherine McCarthy.

“The love and care Gerry and Dolores and William’s older sister Maria give that boy is just incredible. When he was in hospital for weeks in Limerick and Dublin, Dolores would spend the day with William and Gerry would stay for the night. They are just incredible parents,” said Catherine.

Along with her hard-working committee of Catherine Keane, Liam McNamara, Ann Coleman, Kathlyn Coleman and Joe Byrnes they got busy selling tickets. They couldn’t keep Dolores’ mum, Catherine O’Grady, supplied with tickets she was selling them so fast in east Limerick! Ger O’Connell secured signed jerseys and hurleys from the Limerick U-21 and Na Piarsaigh hurlers. John Hayes gave a signed rugby ball. These brought in hundreds of euros. Local musicians, under the moniker No Direction, brought the house down.

When Catherine counted it all up there was €12,720. “I still can’t believe it. Everybody was so generous. I’d just like to thank everybody,” said Catherine. Dolores is also lost for words.

“I can’t express how much this means to us. We are overwhelmed - people have been so good to us. On behalf of myself, Gerry, Maria, William, we are so honoured to have such lovely neighbours and friends to do all that for us,” said Dolores. All she wanted was to fill the oil tank and if things went very well pay off some of the Credit Union loan. They gave up their bedroom to William years ago but this year €33,500 was spent on upgrading his room, bathroom and improving pathways. The council gave €25,000 so they borrowed the rest.

“I’m going to pay off that €8,500 this Thursday. It is going to relieve the financial pressure and stress off me. We will be able to enjoy Christmas so much better now. We will fill the oil tank and leave the rest to the New Year,” said Dolores.

William was the apple of her late father John’s eye and she says he is watching over him from heaven. William was in hospital the night of the fundraiser – Dolores thanked those who stayed with him – but is home and looking forward to a Christmas.