So it’s not surprising Celeste Foley should be one of those honoured at the recent County Mayor Awards.
“I got the award for voluntary work within the community of Whitechurch. I was delighted to get it. I’ve worked over 33 years in this parish. I love this parish,” says the mum of one.
When nominated for the award, it was pointed out that Celeste established a card drive in Whitechurch, which runs every weekend and for which she sorts out lifts for people who don’t have their own transport.
She has organised a group of retired ladies to teach knitting in the local school and she encourages children and Foróige members to get involved in local clean-up.
She’s also heavily involved in Comfort’s Cause, a charity text service set up to raise funds for a locally-based woman’s vital €50,000 medical treatment.
Celeste was the first secretary of Whitechurch ICA when it set up in 1983.
“The late Margaret Ryan was involved in Grenagh ICA. She married into Whitechurch and she asked around if there was interest in setting up a guild here.
"There never had been a guild in Whitechurch – the nearest was Rathpeacon, where my mother was a member,” says Celeste.
Up to 60 attended at the beginning and, as they years went on, the guild always averaged 30.
“We had great interest in drama and singing and public-speaking. We won Cork 800 in 1984 with a big entertainment show produced by Mary Conway,” recalls Celeste.
But now the guild faces closure due to dwindling numbers.
“We had 12 last year. Now we’re down to seven. Women say to us: ‘ah, don’t close, I’ll be ready to join in 10 years time’.”
Yet right now is when Whitechurch ICA needs new faces. But, says Celeste, there’s just so much going on locally that women aren’t naturally drawn to ICA membership. The ICA ladies themselves are very active.
“We go bowling on Tuesday nights. We have bridge on a Wednesday and three of us from ICA play tennis on Thursday and Friday nights.”
But Celeste is determined the guild will flourish again. And it may well do, with plans afoot to hold an urgent brainstorming meeting.
Otherwise, the guild meets at 8pm on the first Wednesday of the month in the local community centre.