Marie O’Toole puts focus on national drive to boost ICA membership

ICA president Marie O’Toole put the focus firmly on new membership at the national AGM in Athlone in May.

Ms O’Toole actively challenged members to promote ICA membership and guild initiatives in their communities. Though the organisation numbers 10,000 across Ireland, Ms O’Toole — whose challenge comes in the run-up to September’s recruitment drive — said people are often unaware of the existence of a guild in their locality.

“During my travels around the country, I meet too many women who tell me they didn’t even know there was an ICA guild on their doorstep. I want our members to blow the ICA trumpet, so that prospective members know we exist!”

Ms O’Toole pointed out that ICA is about more than just arts and crafts. “It’s a constantly evolving organisation, actively promoting the concerns of rural and urban communities at national and local level. [It also provides] an educational and social environment for members to grow, learn new skills and meet new people.” She emphasised that existing members can be proactive in recruiting new blood by ensuring new members were “correctly welcomed and appropriately on-boarded during the first months of membership”.

Anybody, who says ‘yes’ to any of the following questions could well find ICA is what she’s looking for. Have you recently moved to a new town or locality? Are you looking to be challenged or to meet new people? Would you like to help change your community? Guild members should inform women in their community — who might be experiencing the needs reflected in these questions — about ICA.

National PRO Anne Devitt says the AGM is a great occasion for members from all over Ireland to come together and renew friendships and acquaintances. “There was an incredible display of crafts by local federations Westmeath and Longford, including beautiful displays of crochet, paints and knit work. Results of national competitions were also announced. From my own perspective, the most exciting part was the announcement that the ICA book of the Year was won by South Tipperary guild Ballingeary.”

Ms Devitt says the successful AGM was testament to the hard work and creativity of three federation presidents: Westmeath’s Gill Stanley, Roscommon’s Monica Beegan and Longford’s Mary Carty. “The ladies put on a feast of song, music and talent.”

Meanwhile, on the recruitment theme, ’s encouraging to see that nationwide ICA has in recent years accumulated 172 new members and eight new guilds have set up.

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