Joining ICA in Wexford helped Joe Keane to start a new life

Joining ICA was part of the new start Joe Keane gave herself after she separated from her husband in 2011, and moved from the small Wexford village of Castlebridge, where she’d lived for 50 years.

“I decided to make a new life for myself in Wexford Town.

“I needed new interests, a new organisation, new friends. I had no history with ICA, my mother or Granny weren’t in it.”

Soon after, she joined the newly re-formed Wexford Town Guild, she filled a void at a federation meeting that landed her the role of federation PRO, a job she has held for three years.

“The photographer didn’t turn up. I told Breda Banville, then federation president, that I had my small digital camera.

"I took photos, and she asked if I’d write an article for the paper.

“It got a half-page spread in the Wexford People.

“Breda pursued me, wore me down, and I agreed to be PRO.”

The 10 or 11 members of the Wexford Federation committee have become lifelong friends, says Joe.

“To me, it’s like a small guild. The power of that group works so well. We meet several times a month.

"Everything’s always a success, because the members of the committee are so committed.”

With a passion for craft, Joe teaches a ‘sewing for fun’ class in Coolcotts Community Centre.

“I love sewing. It’s my passion, and I try to transfer that to my students. I don’t remember learning to sew.

"I recall learning to knit when I was three and a half. I was left handed, and my mother taught me before I went to school.”

Joe made a denim suit for herself when she was 11, and hopes to make her daughter’s wedding dress next year.

“My son got married in May. I’m making him a quilt.” She got interested in quilting at the Knitting & Stitching Show a few years ago.

“It takes a while to manifest what you want to do. I took a class three years later. Now I do a quilting class once a fortnight to learn different techniques.”

Aside from practising reflexology, Joe recently joined Wexford Marine Watch, a suicide prevention programme where trained volunteers patrol Wexford Quay and Bridge four nights a week, chatting with people who appear distressed.

She’s also part of a local knitting group.

This year, she walked 160km of the Camino de Santiago.

She is, without doubt, an inspiring role model for a new year – and not just for ICA members.


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