Innishannon’s president has a truly fantastic history to tell
Innishannon ICA’s current president, Sheila Cummins, moved to Ballymountain House in the early 1960s along with her husband, mother, mother-in-law and her uncle. She had four children and ran a farm guesthouse. “There was no one busier, yet I still had time for ICA,” says Sheila, who — growing up in Barryroe Parish — recalls seeing a Mrs Walsh passing in a horse and cart on her way to ICA meetings in Courtmacherry. Sheila didn’t hesitate when a relative, Eileen Keane, invited her along to an Innishannon ICA meeting in the mid-‘60s.
She threw herself wholeheartedly into guild activity. “I had 18 bronnaire (awards) within the first 10 years. They meant an awful lot to me. I went to every Cork Federation meeting. I was only in the guild a couple of months when I was voted president.” In those early days, Sheila recalls dress-making classes taught by Teresa Slattery from Bandon. “We’d model what we’d make. Domestic Science teachers would come to judge us. I remember making a green suit and putting pennies into it to give it a bit of weight so it would hang right. We did a lot of hat-making. Maureen Lane, a one-time Cork Federation president taught that.”
There were deportment classes and a passing out parade in Innishannon House Hotel. “We had to model our suits and show the way we walked and the way we stood,” reminisces Sheila, adding that the guild was very involved in debating in those days. “I rem e m b e r a d e b at e a b o u t whether Ireland would be ‘an offshore island off an offshore island’ when we joined the EEC. Innishannon ICA celebrated its 85th birthday this y e a r — i t wa s a m o n g f i ve guilds in the county formed before Cork Federation was founded. To mark the occasion, national office gave them a 1937 list of members. “Mrs Neans McCarthy was on that list. I remember her coming to a poetry class with us, which we were doing to get a bronnaire — she came to make up numbers.” Today, the guild numbers 19 and members would love new blood. “We’d like to take a back seat and hand it over to younger people. When I was young, nobody interfered with what I wanted to do with the guild. I’d like us to do the same now for new and younger members. Joining ICA is a great way to get involved in your community,” comments Sheila.
The guild meets at 8pm on the first Wednesday of the month in Innishannon Hall.
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Innishannon past and current guild members pictured together recently.