Keen walker Concepta ropes in her Clare guild colleagues

The oldest guild in Clare recently celebrated the 100th birthday of one of its members. Mother-of-three Anna McCrum was in Gort Lomáin Guild back in the 1960s, when members took it in turns to be hostess at monthly meetings, and competition was fierce around who made the best cakes.

It was a time when you had to be proposed and seconded before you could join ICA.

“Now the organisation is crying out for members,” says Concepta Lillis, guild treasurer, and Clare Federation sports and leisure officer.

“Even when I joined in the 1980s, Eileen Conlon and Mary Kerins proposed and seconded me.

"I joined because I was new in the area, from Cooraclare in West Clare, and I didn’t know many.”

Concepta was among half a dozen guild members to visit Anna McCrum in the nursing home on the occasion of her birthday — and the Mayor of Ennis visited too.

“We presented her with a patchwork quilt made by our craft promoter, Mary Uí Ruairc,” says Concepta, adding that guild members share and teach each other crafts.

“I’ve learned to make rag wreaths for Christmas, Easter and Halloween. We’ve done beading and decoupage.”

Concepta is big into walking, and a member of a few walking clubs, including West Clare.

“Every second weekend, we meet at 9.30am and walk for three or four hours. We did Ben Nevis last April. We’ve done a section of the Camino.

"We’ve been to Kilimanjaro.”

She and her husband, Joe Lillis, went to Machu Picchu in 2013. Joe played football for Quilty and for the Clare senior team for 10 years.

Concepta met him in August 1971, but that didn’t stop her heading off to the US the following month to pursue a nursing career.

“I had a job in a hospital in Lakeland, Florida. My brother was a priest there and he’d got me an apartment and a little car.

"I wasn’t giving that up! I came home a year later for a holiday. Joe came out to see me at Christmas in 1972.

"I came home in March ’73, he had already proposed and we married four months later.”

Now in her second year as federation sport and leisure officer, Concepta has organised a walk in the walled garden in Vandaleur and a short walk in the Burren, as well as theatre and bowling trips.

Gort Lomáin Guild meets at 8pm on the second Wednesday of the month in their cottage at Barefield.


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