Whether it’s raising funds for a nearby hospital or contributing to the education of six to eight-year-olds in the local school, Ballyphehane ICA Guild is all about giving back to the community.

The 70-strong guild runs three crochet classes on a voluntary basis — at Ballyphehane/Togher Resource Centre, at Ballyphehane Community Centre and in Tory Top Library. 

“This is ICA craftswomen sharing their skills with people from the community,” says long-time member Nancy Falvey, who confirms that each class attracts about 20 local women.

“The women are aged from their late 30s to the oldest, Sheila O’Riordan, who’s 93. Some women work part-time. Others come for the company.”

For the past five or six years, crochet items, hand-made in the classes — such as christening gowns, baby blankets, cardigans and tea cosies — have been on display at the St Finbarr’s Hospital annual garden fete. 

Sales of the items have resulted in up to €1,400 in any given year going towards activities for the hospital’s elderly patients — a summer outing or a visiting artist.

However, the Bealtaine Inter-Generational project is “one of the loveliest” Nancy has worked on, alongside ICA colleagues and women from the community. This involves input into the junior (infants’) cycle Aistear curriculum at Scoil Maria Assumpta, Ballyphehane. 

The initiative started 12 years ago and sees the women, along with artist Anne Kiely, visit the school and — in the presence of the children — sew outfits relating to different professions (doctor, nurse, pilot, garda).

“The children model the outfits at an exhibition and fashion show. Having been taught about it, they explain what the profession relating to their outfit does.”

This year, 30 outfits were completed over 12 weeks. 

“It’s one of the loveliest things I’ve ever done,” says Nancy. 

“You see the children gain confidence. You see a little girl pick up a needle and she’s the most beautiful sewer, even at that young age.”

But what’s most satisfactory for the guild, she says, is the fact that members are passing on skills. 

“If we don’t pass these skills on to younger generations, where’s the knowledge going to come from?”

Ballyphehane ICA meets on Thursday nights at 8pm in the local community centre.


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