“I got this wonderful warm Irish welcome. At the very first meeting, Kathleen Downey came up to me and asked where I was from. It turned out her first cousin, a Trappist monk, was based just down the road from where my family come from in Iowa.”
Elizabeth and her husband moved to the Mizen peninsula in 2010. “We wanted to move to a more rural environment and to have some land. We found our farm on Daft.ie. I spotted pictures of the place and said ‘bingo — here we are!’ We’re between Goleen and Schull, half way up a mountain.”
She first heard about the ICA in her neighbour’s kitchen — Josephine Hellen is a Goleen ICA Guild member and encouraged Elizabeth to join. One of the reasons the couple moved to Ireland was because they want to be more self-sufficient.
“We grow our own fruit and vegetables. There’s this common interest — with ICA — in practical skills. People have forgotten how easy it is to make bread. But there was a time when people made bread every day.”
Elizabeth would love to learn to knit and is impressed by the talent in the guild. “We have a champion knitter, Noelle Roycroft, who regularly walks away with national prizes for her work.
And Catherine O’Driscoll has a fine eye and takes beautiful photos that reflect Goleen. It’d be marvellous if we could stage an exhibition of her photos. In this age of cutbacks, it would be very positive to be able to blow our own trumpet.”
An ICA member for three years, Elizabeth looks forward to hearing the speakers who attend monthly meetings.
“We draw on the talent we have right here in our community or nearby. John Chamberlain, an expert in cultivation of sea urchins, has a hatchery in Dunmanus Bay — he gave us a wonderful presentation of our work.
“Anne O’Donovan of the Citizens’ Information Centre in Bantry visited us the day after the Budget. She was able to put us all in the picture about what the changes would mean and what was available to us.”