New Clare ICA president Joanne Allen starts with vow to build connections

As newly-elected president of Clare ICA Federation, Joanne Allen wants members to come to federation meetings for the craic and to connect.

A federation meeting might attract anything from 80 to 100 attendees — altogether, there are 19 guilds in the region totalling 350 members. “I’m hoping to increase that number so people will come for the activities and not be afraid they’re going to get a job. I don’t want meetings to be just about the top table talking,” says Joanne, who describes herself as “big into communication”.

She intends to visit guilds so they can air issues on their own ground and she wants to find out what they want from their federation.

“Technology is big for me. I’m going to help every guild have an email address. We just launched our first e-newsletter this month — it’ll come out four or five times a year.”

The May newsletter tells members that — starting from September — a member of each guild will be given two minutes to talk at federation meetings about what’s happening in their guild. It’s to help communication, to link guilds together and to share ideas and feedback. The newsletter also announces a book stand at all future federation meetings. Anyone with books to donate should bring them along. Each book will sell for €1 and the endeavour is in aid of Clare Federation fund.

Joanne is mindful of smaller guilds who might find it expensive to invite speakers and demonstrators to their own local meetings. To this end, Clare ICA meetings will from now on feature a speaker/demonstrator/activity.

“I’m interested in inviting a speaker to talk about safety in the home/farm, for example,” says Joanne, who also wants to get “crafts back on track”.

“I fear that if we don’t pass on our knowledge of crafts, it’ll be lost. I don’t just mean the old crafts, like knitting and crochet. I’m thinking of the newer ones too — mosaic, origamiand jewellery-making for example. I want to do more to encourage members to pass on their knowledge.”

Joanne is president of Scariff Guild, which she helped set up three years ago. “I joined because I wanted something that didn’t define me as somebody’s wife or mammy,” says the school secretary, who’s a mum of one daughter. “I was involved in GAA because I’m Rachel’s mammy and she plays camogie. I was involved in Scariff Agricultural Show because my husband, Tom, bred horses and I got roped in because I’m his wife. Tom and I were both in the local drama — that was something for the two of us, I wanted something for me.”

Other newly-elected Clare Federation officers include secretary Aisling Finn, PRO Siobhán Slattery and contests officer Mary Garry.


Wesley O’ Regan is the General Manager of Popscene in Voodoo Rooms, Cork city. Popscene opened last November and is Cork’s only themed bar that is dedicated to celebrating the best of the 80s and 90s.'ve Been Served: Wesley O'Regan, Popscene

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