The annual garden party at An Grianán is the highlight of the ICA’s summer calendar and this year was no different with over 300 ladies descending on the Co Louth-based education centre early in July.

Joe Whitmore, Wexford Federation PRO, represented the national contests committee but the event also gave her the opportunity to get to know her fellow guild members in Castlebridge ICA. An ICA member since 2011, Joe joined Castlebridge in May.

“Altogether, 17 guild members were at the garden party. It was part of our summer outing. Over the next days, we went shopping in Liffey Valley Shopping Centre, as well as to Kilmacurragh Botanic Gardens in Wicklow.”

For Joe, a highlight of the garden party was the fashion.

“Just seeing the style was fantastic. Everybody dressed as if they were going to a wedding. It was lovely to see that effort,” she said.

The day featured a hot and cold buffet, strawberries and cream on the lawn, a line dancing demonstration and a fashion show by Shaws. This showcased a good cross-section of formal and casual wear and a range of ages/sizes, reports Joe. 

“I particularly liked a lime green jacket teamed with a print dress and an asymmetrical-patterned black and white top. Shaws held a sale. Lots of buying went on at very good prices.”

Joe chatted with members from Drogheda, Clare and Galway and was especially impressed by a 93-year-old Monaghan member.

“She has been going for years to the garden party. She was watching all the activity and seemed very contented in her own space. She was there with her daughter, who’d returned from South Africa to live with her.”

Joe was busy this summer. Treated for leukaemia 15 years ago, she’s a loyal fundraiser for the Bone Marrow for Leukaemia Trust and over the years has done three sponsored walks — in Slovenia (2003), Vietnam (2009) and Boston (2010). 

This October she’s doing a sponsored walk in Malta — over 100km during the week. With a target fundraising amount of €3,500, she raised €850 through a vintage tea party she held recently.

Meanwhile, she prepared the ICA stand at Bannow & Rathangan Horticultural Show, which drew 15,000 visitors in mid-July. “There was great interest in ICA. We took two pages of names. We’ll get a good few recruits from that day,” predicts Joe.


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