Recalling great ICA moments with Rathkeevin branch members

Eileen Boland looks back on 65 years of friendship, fun and support





As I sit here in the quiet in Rathkeevin old school house, where children used to learn to read and write, thinking of the good times that are gone, we learned from Eileen Grant how to knit, sew, cook, make soft toys and do crafts.
We sang, danced and entertained many people old and young.
It was 1955, when Eileen Grant sent out a note to all the local women, far and near. She invited them to come, good women, good women come and meet in Rathkeevin NS. She got a great response, 50 women turned up, met old friends and made new ones. In May of 1955 the Rathkeevin guild was launched and glad to say it’s still going strong.
The ICA and locals worked tirelessly together to renovate the old school house, for our meetings and our classes.
It is now being used by young and old, for meetings, cards and crafts and recently for children’s care before and after school.
The hall now has central heating, running water and electric light. No more sticks and coal or Tilly lamps for light. The black kettle is no longer used, I suppose it’s had its day. You just plug in for boiling water and flick the switch for light and heat.
We take a five day break to beautiful Killarney, when the daffodils and snowdrops are in full bloom. The trees are wakening up after the long and dreary winter days and the baby birds are tweeting in their nests.
There’s nothing more relaxing than to view the lakes and hills and drive around the National Park in an Irish jaunting car.
In August or September we go to An Grianán, where we learn to sew, knit and paint. We also make cards, do beading and learn to decorate our cakes. We also learn to dance and sing and do yoga sitting down.
We also love our day trips to the National Parks, garden centres and to view the beauty spots of Ireland.
We go to Brú Ború in Cashel for a traditional night of dancing, singing and music. We have a night out at the dogs, for a sit down meal and a flutter on the dogs. We win, we lose but no one cares, we have a great night out.
We walked, we baked, we ran, we sat on the streets and entertained with song and dance and made a lot of money for our local and national charities.
Past and present members of Rathkeevin ICA won numerous prizes at local shows and South Tipp Federation. We also won All Ireland titles with bread and scones, lace and crafts, with cards and beading, flower arranging and Mary White’s tea cosy. We made some lovely dresses and knit some Aran sweaters. We also made some hats and bags, for to model at the make and model shows.
We also reached the regional finals and All Ireland in short stories, question time, with singing, dancing and drama.
2014 will also be remembered in our guild when Betty Williams won the All Ireland Final at the National Ploughing Match with her Brown Bread recipe. Betty was featured on the Nationwide programme and interviewed by Ann Cassin in our own Rathkeevin Hall. We also hosted Down your way with Eamon O’Dwyer on the local radio.
We got involved in the country markets, to sell our cakes, our bread, scones, our vegetables and eggs. We went by tractor and on float in the St Patrick’s Day parade. We entertained the “special guests” and the people on the streets. We caught the eyes of all the judges and won “Best Float” on the day.
The ladies of the ICA put on a craft display. They invited the local people and the children of the schools.
The children get to make some cards, St Brigid’s Crosses and they learn how to knit. They love to sit and watch as the spinning wheel goes around and around, as Kathleen Hogg spins the sheep’s wool in lovely knitting wool.
Our guild have and had many special talents, in music, singing, step dancing, figure and set dancing, reciting poems in Irish and in English. We performed a number of plays, in drama and in comedy, with the local Macra group and also with Glor Na Gael.
The Macra group and the ICA won their way to the Munster Final with the Belle of Boulavogue. We also competed with Glor Na Gael in the Tops of the Town and in Siamsa.
In early years at Christmas we entertained the patients of St Luke’s Hospital and in Morton Street for the senior citizens. We still entertain the patients in Rathkeevin Nursing Home.
We often ask ourselves, what is ICA? It’s for meeting other women, having a cup of tea, a chat and a laugh.
Helping others and listening to their troubles, remember your troubles are someone else’s troubles as well.
We are all sisters in ICA, doing it for ourselves.
So let’s drink a slainte to Bantreacht Na Thuaithe. For in toasting we are toasting to the progress and beauty of all these good ladies many years back and today, who grouped together and founded our branch ICA.
And I’m sure as I pen this verse you’ll agree, no praise too high for this group could be. So let’s put our voices together this way with three rousing cheers for this group ICA.