16 Aug 2022

Coat sharing initiative returns to park in Limerick

Coat sharing initiative returns to  park in Limerick

This is the fourth successive year of the sheltered coat rack at Arthur's Quay Park

A LIMERICK woman has made a touching gesture for the fourth year running to those in need of a little warmth this winter in the city. 

Audrey Ryan sets up a collection and donation point for winter coats in the city, enabling those in need of protection against the harsh elements to stay warm and dry. 

The sheltered coat rack is located behind Arthur’s Quay shopping centre, and the idea is simple: ‘Are you cold? Take one. Do you want to help? Leave one’.

The Corbally woman said she was moved to take action when a homeless woman passed away on the city’s streets in 2016. 

“I was inspired by a girl who was found dead, Louise Casey,” Audrey explained. “I do it every year in honour of her because nobody should die of the cold. 

“The way I look at it, everyone deserves to have a warm coat. When I saw that Louise died of the cold I thought ‘no one should be cold’ - not in this day and age, in 2019.

 “Babies are born into homelessness now,” she added, “unfortunately children are homeless too.”

Audrey has said the response to this year’s collection has been “unbelievable” and has even encountered those who the coats have helped. 

“I met an 80-year-old woman who was after doing her shopping, and it was raining very heavily. She was frozen-looking, so I offered her a coat and she said ‘no not at all, this coat will do me - hopefully I’ll get a new one for Christmas’. I put a warm coat on her and she was delighted. 

“It’s not just for homeless, it’s for anyone who can’t afford a coat that needs one. It’s for anyone in need.”

The structure was built by Limerick City Guild members Martin Quinn and Ray O’Halloran, and Audrey said that every evening the rack is full of donated coats. 

“What I really need is for people to hang the coats and not to leave anything on the ground because a wet coat is no good to anyone,” she implored. 

“People need to realise I don’t want summer jackets, or little summer things - it’s not a dumping ground. They need functional, warm coats with zips.

“I need people to respect it, and take care of it,” she added, “otherwise it will become an eyesore and it’ll be removed.” 

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