The tiny Cork guild of Watergrasshill hosted two major ICA events this year, the Cork Federation AGM and the East Cork Federation quiz.
It was, says long-standing member Rosarie O’Shea, a tall order for a small guild of just seven, whose members are mostly aged in their 70s, with some in their 80s.
“But when we’re in something, we want to do it right.”
Both events were held in the First Fruits Arts Centre located in the former Church of Ireland.
For the guild, it was a case of all hands to the wheel as they set about preparing and decorating the hall in the ICA colours of blue and green, as well as baking cakes.
“Between 60 and 70 attended, but we baked for more than that,” says Rosarie, who first joined ICA at the age of 16 in Carraig Na bhFear.
Her sister, Margaret, joined at the same time, as well as friends Angela and Mary O’Callaghan and Kathleen Manley.
“The guild was doing a comedy play and we all had parts in it. I loved it.”
When she and her husband moved to Watergrasshill in 1965, Rosarie joined the local guild soon after. “One of my neighbours invited me along, the late Mary O’Reilly.”
Meetings were held in the old hall at the bottom of the village.
“We had no heating. Members took turns to light the fire and that’s how we made tea. You brought your cup home afterwards to wash it.
"There was big membership back then, 50 or 60 women.”
It was a time when younger members knew the older ones only as ‘Mrs’ and when speakers were invited in from the IFA and other farm-related groups.
“We took in every word they said,” recalls Rosarie.
The guild still enjoys speakers on a very regular basis.
This year, they had Ena Howell doing Go for Life exercises with them, they had a brown bread baking demo, a first aid speaker and a bring and buy plant sale for members.
Watergrasshill ICA knows there’s competition locally for members – the community has Active Aged, Pilates and bowls, but they’d love new members to join.
Their longest-serving members are Margaret Brodrick (“she’s a very faithful servant to ICA”) and May McCarthy.
The guild meets in the community hall, Watergrasshill, at 8pm on the second Tuesday of the month.
Meetings resume in September.
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