Leanne Reilly kick-started her ICA career last year by immediately entering the Longford heat of the Rose of Tralee contest.
The 20-year-old, who describes herself as the baby of Newtownforbes Guild, says members supported her 100% in her bid for the Longford Rose title.
“I said I’d represent them and they encouraged me to go for it. In the end I didn’t make it to Tralee — Kathleen Mahon went on to represent Longford.”
Leanne, the youngest of five and originally from Killoe, joined ICA because she’d seen it promoted a lot and she wanted to learn to cook. She also knew Ann Devlin, a Newtownforbes Guild member and regional PRO for the Border, West and Midlands region.
“The first night I was a bit sceptical. I didn’t know what to make of it and then I saw this was a bunch of women who liked to put their opinions together. I realised it would be nice to get to know women who aren’t the same age as me.”
Working as a housekeeper with Campus Life Services in UL, Leanne tries to get back to Longford for as many meetings as possible and she accompanied members on a fundraising walk for the guild and for Pieta House.
“I’ve learned how to make shepherd’s pie and pizzas — stuff I’d usually burn! Crochet wouldn’t interest me as much as cooking but Ann [Devlin] is teaching me to sew,” she said.
Leanne’s mum, Teresa, may well follow her into ICA.
“She’s currently thinking about joining, just to get out of the house and to find an outlet for her talents. I’m hoping to get some younger women to join too, though a lot of my friends are sceptical. They tend to laugh at me when they hear I’m in ICA but they don’t understand the full aspects of the organisation — the range of women who get together to share their talents.
“I find I gain from being with older women — they’ve been around a lot longer than I have. They’ve been through it all.”
Leanne worked in a nursing home for a year and still harbours plans to return to nursing studies (she has done a Fetac Level 5 pre-nursing course) but next September she hopes to begin an Arts degree. She’s also a member of the Red Cross.
“I’m a cardiac first responder. We went to Granard Harvest Festival and I spent all day in an ambulance. I love volunteering in groups.”
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