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Lynn Ruane: 'She was pure goodness and spent her life sharing that goodness'

What will never be lost is the incredible positive change that Ann-Louise left with us, writes Senator Lynn Ruane.

Lynn Ruane Independent Senator

EVERY TIME ANN-LOUISE Gilligan spoke, I sat up and I listened. I knew that whatever she was about to say would not only be inspiring, it would be the truth.

She was a woman of pure goodness and she spent her life sharing that goodness with all she met.

Ann-Louise was a visionary, an advocate for change and a believer in the power of education. By founding An Cosán, Ann-Louise’s and Katherine’s vision for the education and empowerment of women and their children of the Tallaght community was realised and became the avenue by which my own educational journey began.

Her gentle and warm nature seeped into the very core of all that An Cosán strived to achieve, whether it was the meditations that started off each day or the smell of home baked scones that wafted from the kitchen.

It was only in 2014, when the seed that An Cosán had planted in me really began to bloom, was I truly able to realise the extent of Ann-Louise’s impact on my own life. It was then that I decided to reach out to Ann-Louise to share with her how much my life and the lives of my children had been transformed by the opportunity that she had given me. In the past several years I got to thank her and continue to learn from her, and for that I’ll always be truly grateful.

Healing and education

Katherine Zappone renews wedding vows Katherine Zappone and Ann Louise Gilligan renew their marriage vows at Dublin City Hall in January 2016 Source: Niall Carson/PA Images

I remember in 2002 spending the day in Katherine and Ann-Louise’s home, the Shanty, a home that they opened to women seeking an education. I remember the big dog in the garden and the beautiful surrounding scenery. I could hear the sheep bleating in the distance.

My most enduring memory is taking my runners off at the front door and slipping my feet into the sheep wool slippers. I remember feeling at home. I remember feeling the cosy slippers on my feet, smelling the incense and feeling the warmth, and realising this is what I wanted in life.

I wanted to be able to enjoy simple things in life like the sheep wool on my feet and know that I am safe and okay. I knew in that moment I was beginning to heal. The loving environment created by Ann-Louise was helping me heal.

For me, that is what Ann-Louise will always represent: healing and education. Healing and education are gifts that just keep giving. Every time I feel the impact of those two gifts, my relationship with Ann Louise will continue to grow, and she will continue to impact our lives even in her absence.

Katherine has lost her soulmate, her best friend and her biggest champion, but what will never be lost is the incredible positive change that she left with us.

Lynn Ruane is an Independent Senator in Seanad Éireann. 

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About the author:

Lynn Ruane  / Independent Senator

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