The knitted chickens that raise thousands each year for cancer research are the result of the concerted efforts of many – but it all started 13 years ago when a Fermoy ICA cancer survivor wanted to give something back.
Fermoy Guild secretary Noreen Condon recalls Abby Feerick saying after her recovery that she’d like to do something for cancer research. Noreen had a word with her friend, Eileen O’Callaghan, who gave her a pattern for knitted chickens.
“We’re at it since,” says Noreen, who joined the guild on the night it was founded in March 1963.
Fermoy ICA has 19 members and most of them are avid knitters. They run a knitting class in the local library on Tuesday afternoons.
“Non-ICA people come too. There are no bosses – we all pass on our tips.”
The group knits for an orphanage in Zimbabwe; they knit cardigans and jumpers for babies in Chad and they knit hats for Innocent smoothie bottles. (The Innocent Big Knit raises money for Age Action).
This year, DAWG (Dog Action Welfare Group) asked if they’d knit Christmas stockings for treats for dogs – they said yes.
The knitted chicks bring out a generous spirit in people beyond Fermoy.
“Our friends and relatives sell the chicks in Ballyhooly, Mallow, Kinsale and Dublin, as well as in Fermoy. We got a generous donation this year to buy wool.
"Lots of non-ICA members bring bags of wool to us in the library. We get the chocolate eggs at cost from shops in Fermoy and beyond.”
It takes half an hour to knit a chick but twice as long again to finish him, says Noreen.
“I’d knit 10 at a time, but then you have to stuff the head and sew up the chick, make the eyes and beak and put ribbon around the beak.”
The chicks come in all colours. “Some people even ask for black ones – we never refuse anyone.”
Last year, the knitted chicks raised over €5,000 for cancer research. The expectation is that this year the sum will be more than equalled.
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