From the very beginning, the Ardmore and Grange guild was deeply involved in inter-guild and county federation activities. At federation level, our members have held the following posts:
Two presidents, two vice-presidents, secretary, international officer, timire, two arts promoters, ACOT representative, crafts promoter, teachta. One of our members, Margaret Leahy is at present, chairman of the national executive a highly prestigious office.
At our inaugural meeting in January 1953, we realised and noted the importance of having a comfortable meeting place. At that time, F. Nugent and J. O'Brien owned Monea House, more commonly known as The College, it having functioned as an Irish College from the early 1940's. They were approached with a request for accommodation, and the rejoinder was, that we could have it free for three months, as that was as long as we'd last. We're still going strong forty-six years later.
We occupied the large room on the right hand side of the hallway, enjoying our Adams fireplace and Georgian grandeur for four years. There were just oil lamps. Rural electrification came to Ardmore in 1954, but the College wasn't wired. The owners' plans changed and in January 1958, we got a notice to quit. For most of the next fifteen years, a small room at Ivy Lodge, was our home. The parish priest Fr. Power, was approached with a proposal to build a new premises in the field behind the Hall. He agreed, provided the site remained parochial property, in case the I.C.A. ceased to exist.
Fund-raising was now going on, in earnest, and included jumble sales, whist drives, raffles, sales of work, dances you name it. In the meantime, Jim Quain had drawn up a plan for the premises and planning permission was granted in April, 1973. In Novemeber 1973, John Keane and Gerard were on the site with a bulldozer and marked it out, and the building at last began. During the winter 1974, the foundations were laid and required many loads of stones, so again, husbands and some of the I,C,A, members were requisitioned to bring them in, at various times and meithil of I.C.A. came together on appointed evenings to throw these stones into the foundations. Mrs. O'Brien came across with tea and currant cake and we really enjoyed those sessions. Jim Quain took over the long, tedious job of building up the walls, Saturday by Saturday. We ought never forget the deep debt we owe him.
The opening of the I.C.A. room in January 1976 was a memorable occasion. Mass was celebrated by Fr. O'Gorman and all who were involved in the building were invited, as well as the Federation President and members of neighbouring guilds. Our first proper guild meeting in the room was in 9th March, 1976, but the work was by no means completed. October 1976 finds us discussing insurance and connecting with the water mains.
The next gala occasion was the celebration of our Silver Jubilee in our own premises, in 1978. Our room is regularly used by other organisations, for example for Kindergarten classes a few times a week, for the weekly outing of the senior citizens of St. Declans Community Centre, for which the Ardmore Enterprise Co-Op in conjunction with the Board of Health have helped to refurbish the premises.
No account of I.C.A. activities is possible without special mention of Anne Roche, who not alone, helped to bring us into being in 1953, but guided our first faltering steps and continued to be our special mentor and friend down through the years. It was she who introduced us to debating. In 1954, we became County champions and got our name on the shield for the Eleanor Gibbon competition for the first time. On two other occasions, our name figured on the shield, for portraying five fascinating women.
We got involved in drama and in the 1950's the I.C.A. play was an important date in the Ardmore calendar. Other activities followed, set dancing, fashion competitions, flower arranging and cookery. Teresa O'Connor became National Seafood Cook of the year in 1984. More recent successes were in the 1987 Guild of the year competition, involving among many other things a monthly record of the several guild activities, and besides winning at county level, our entry was among the top eight in the country. We were co-first in the county in the 1993 A.I.B. competition.
The Historical Exhibition in 1955 was the most noteworthy of all our activities in the early years. It took place in the new building of what was the Irish College at Ardmore in Pattern Week.
From 1955 to 1962, the children's sports, including a sand castle competition on the strand was an annual event, as was the Christmas party presided over by Santa Claus. This later became a children's ceili. Our records are peppered with account of whist drives and socials in our premises or the hall, either in aid of ourselves of for some parochial cause. The socials in the mid-fifties and later, were really socials in the full sense of the word. The music was supplied by Michael Mansfield's local band (The Sea Breeze). All age groups came and there was a festive party air, as people danced and sang. Afterwards tea and cakes were handed round. The Pattern was also celebrated by a Ceili and bunting was put out.
Since 1956, the Guild has been deeply involved in Water Safety activities, including organising and fund-raising. Courses in Swimming and Life-saving take place twice each summer in Ardmore, and we are represented on the County Committee.
In January 1993, the Guild celebrated its 40th anniversary having invited ex-members as well. There was a gala night of speech making, song and reminiscing. Anne Roche who initiated us into the I.C.A. away back in 1953 was an honoured guest and a wonderful night was had by all. We have competed with distinction in among other things, Federation Day in Dungarvan, involving baking, crafts, flower arranging and drama. Since the 1990's we have had ambitious summer programmes at Pattern time.
We have still got four founder members, all of whom have held office at various times. It may be disconcerting to note that many of our more recent members were not born on that January night in 1953, when Ardmore and Grange I.C.A. guild came into being, but it is a healthy and heartening sign for the future and we can face the years ahead with confidence and assurance.
Founder Members:- Eileen Colbert, Kathleen Keane, Siobhán Lincoln and Mary E. Quain.
Chrissie Rooney 1953 - 1954
Mary E. Quain 1955 - 1956
Siobhán Lincoln 1957 - 1958
Mary Troy 1959 - 1960
Helen Curran 1961 - 1962
Shiela O'Byrne 1963 - 1964
Mary E Quain 1965
Marie Quain 1966
Eileen Colbert 1967 - 1968
Kathleen O'Connell 1969 - 1971
Angela Keane 1972 - 1973
Bridget O'Brien 1974 - 1975
Anne Hallahan 1976 - 1978
Margaret Leahy 1979 - 1981
Patricia Cockburn 1982 - 1984
Nora Connery 1985 - 1986
Teresa O'Connor 1987 - 1988
Bernie Keane 1988 - 1990
Mary Colbert 1991 - 1993
Liz Dolan 1994 - 1996
Margaret Cronin 1997 - 1998
Eileen O'Callaghan 1999
Author: Siobhan Lincoln