Cork’s new president brings lifelong passion to the role

The new president of Cork ICA Federation literally grew up along with her own local guild, Berrings.

Deirdre Hickey will be 50 in January and her guild — of which she is also president — will also be celebrating 50 years this September.

Taking up the reins of Cork Federation for the next three years leaves Deirdre feeling delighted, very honoured and humbled. She succeeds outgoing president Phil O’Leary.

“I’m asking am I worthy of it,” she said. “I wanted it but it came faster for me than I expected. As federation secretary, I’d go around to guilds and people would say ‘you should go for it’.”

Deirdre would like to see a new, positive energy invigorate ICA guilds. “We’ve gone kind of negative overall. We’re losing our ability to see what we can achieve — maybe because of the recession the country has suffered.

“To see everybody standing up so tall and straight at meetings, singing ‘Our Land’ — we’re so proud of that song and we should be proud of all we’ve done. Through the years, ICA has done the world of work in every parish. The country wouldn’t be what it is but for ICA. We must congratulate ourselves on what we’ve done and go forward with new energy.”

ICA, says Deirdre, can provide the guidance, the ‘well done’ that we all need.

“We all need care and attention and you get that in ICA. Whatever life difficulty you’re going through, someone will say ‘it happened to me — there’s light at the end of the tunnel’. You go to an ICA meeting after a bad day and someone next to you will say ‘ah, wait ‘til you hear what I did’.”

Deirdre will leads Cork’s 66 guilds — one of her main aims is to see every guild set up with an email address. “So all guilds will know what’s going on — if a guild’s organising a cake sale or a flower demo, members of others guilds who are interested will know about it. East Cork [region] is making great strides in this area courtesy of Rosalie Dunne.”

Cork ICA secretary Pauline O’Callaghan will write to all Cork guilds about the national brown bread baking competition and will request all send an email address back to her.

“If a guild’s secretary doesn’t have an email address, she can give an email address for another member,” explains Deirdre, who hopes her own nieces will one day join ICA. In a way, it was because of a niece that she herself became a member aged 23.

“My mother couldn’t go to the meeting so she sent me down to trace a Carrickmacross lace pattern for my niece’s christening gown. The members were all talking about an upcoming trip to An Grianán. That’s what brought me into ICA.”


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