In­nis­han­non’s pres­i­dent has a truly fan­tas­tic his­tory to tell

Irish Examiner - Farming - - COUNTRY LIVING - He­len O’Cal­laghan

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.

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