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Mayo stone company carves out a niche

In times of doom and gloom in the construction industry, a Co Mayo company has managed to carve out a winning niche for itself – and it’s all thanks to a revolutionary product it discovered in America.
ThinStone Ireland was born after a eureka moment by Westport man Declan Conway, who has been running Western Stoneworks for the past four years. He says it was his willingness to ‘think outside the box’ that led him to the breakthrough product that now sustains his business in these post-Celtic Tiger times.
“Up to about two years ago, our business involved traditional cut-stone being put up on Irish houses. That stone is eight inches thick, and one day it just came to me – it doesn’t have to be that thick. At that size, it’s heavier for the stonemason to work with, dearer for the home-owner to put up and it also kills space and light around windows and doors,” says Declan, who runs ThinStone Ireland (www.thinstoneireland.ie) in Westport.
“That’s when I started to think there must be an alternative.
I did some research and found that a thinner, lighter-weight stone was already the new way in America. This was regular sandstone and limestone, but cut into thinner sections to reduce the weight and cost.
“Very soon I was sourcing my own supply of thin stone and bringing it into Ireland. We called it ThinStone.
“This has really taken off for us, and at what is a difficult time in the construction industry, we are now expanding. We have just added a Galway outlet and are looking at setting up more.”
ThinStone has caught on with home-owners, who want real stone on their homes without having to use the heavier and more expensive traditional stone.
“What really surprises people is when they realise we are producing actual stone. It is three-quarters to one-inch in thickness, and at that thickness they seem to expect it to be a manufactured stone,” explains Declan.
“But once they touch and feel it, they know it is 100 per cent stone. It is a great option for houses, both inside and outside. Walls, entrances and stone facing of porches and extensions are our regular type of work.
“Other growing parts of our business are fireplaces and stone patios. We also have a wide variety of finishes, so people can select the look they want for their home.”
Thin stone withstands the harshest of American winters and, being 100 per cent real stone, is perfect for the Irish weather.
And it has also won approval for the benefits it brings to long-suffering stonemasons.