Library Assistant Áine O’Brien and her Knit and Natter group love a crafty challenge, especially when it’s for charities and local anniversaries
Áine O’Brien and her knit club recreate the Sam Maguire Cup in yarn
Knitting groups are more than just a club; they’re a place where like-minded creatives come together, sharing not only knitting skills, but laughs, stories and above all, exciting ideas. This is exactly what happened with Ireland’s Dunmanway Library Knit and Natter group, who came up with the idea to recreate the most famous prize in Gaelic games, the Sam Maguire Cup.
The Knit and Natter group was started in 2014 by Áine O’Brien, who works as Library Assistant at Dunmanway Library, and the group have gone from strength to strength ever since. “We have fantastic ladies in the group, some that have been knitting and crocheting for over 60 years and some, like me, who are very basic knitters.” The group knit and crochet for four charities: blankets, caps and cardigans for Premature Babies Cork University Maternity Hospital, chemo hats and head bands for children at Cork Mercy University Hospital, Innocent Smoothie hats for Age Action, and hats, scarves, teddies and so on for the Christmas Shoebox Appeal. “We also knit and crochet three library window displays annually – Easter, summer and Christmas,” Áine says. “I come up with the ideas and the ladies have never failed to come up with the knitted goodies.” So, where did the idea for a knitted version of the Sam Maguire cup come from? Áine tells us, “Sam Maguire was himself a Dunmanway native and local sporting legend. The original and highly prized cup, modelled on the ancient Ardagh Chalice, was first presented to the Gaelic Athletic Association 90 years ago this year. Our group decided to celebrate the occasion by recreating our very own, full-size woollen replica of the cup.”
In March, Áine O’Brien, Eileen Hurley and Mandy Ferguson travelled to the GAA Museum in Croke Park to take measurements and photos of the cup. The shape was put together using a flowerpot, funnel and pineapple can, covered in papier mâché and spray painted. After many attempts – and lots of ripping – the cup took shape and the masterpiece was created. The ladies used a mixture of knitting, crochet and embroidery to create the detail on the cup, which was then put on display in the window of Dunmanway Library for July and August, along with all 32 handmade county colour flags of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. “It is a great opportunity to display our pride in our local area, our heritage and our creativity for the whole community to enjoy. And the reaction has been amazing,” says Áine. “We have been pictured in local and national newspapers, interviewed on local radio and for RTE Nationwide (similar to Countryfile). We even got the pleasure of meeting our Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Leo Varadkar on his recent visit to Dunmanway!” The success of the cup has inspired the group to continue their wonderful creations. “Our Christmas window theme is ‘Christmas Dinner’,” says Áine. “We plan on knitting and crocheting all the food for a typical Irish Christmas Day, including turkey, sprouts, carrots, cranberry sauce, trifle and of course a Christmas cake and pudding.
As for the Sam McGuire knitted cup? It’s been o ered a permanent home by the local Rector, Cli Je ers, at Saint Mary’s Church in Dunmanway, County Cork, where Sam Maguire is buried in the churchyard.
For more info on the group, visit www.corkcoco.ie/library-services
"Sam Maguire was a Dunmanway native and local sporting legend The original and highly prized cup was first presented to the Gaelic Athletic Associatiion 90 years ago"
Not all Ireland’sofTSaoairsae’sach (Prime Mkninitistitnegr)i,s Leo Varaudskeadri,nwtahse shown tchleasksnritotoemd .c..up Celebrating the library’s 21st birthday in true crafty style The ladies and their yarn-bombed bike with former Mayor of Cork, Declan Hurley Celebrating creating another huge batch of charity knits
The cup – made from a plant pot, funnel and pineapple can Knitted gingerbread houses decorate Dunmanway’s library Aine’s group knitted a replica of the GPO (General Post O ce) in Dublin Showing o their top knit in their home town
Áine O’Brien of Dunmanway Knit and Natter group