Pictured with the Clara guild to celebrate the 70th birthday were: Ann Kelly ,Liz Dermody (Federation President ICA) Phil Dowling (President Clara Guild) and Olive Cullen (Vice - President Clara Guild)

Photos by Pat Shortall

It was a very special occasion last week for members of Clara ICA.

A celebration, with a dinner at The Clubhouse hotel and a mass celebrated by Fr Willie Purcell saw the guild reflect on a wonderful history as they celebrated 70 years in existence.

In attendance at the dinner was ICA  national President Liz Darmody, Vice President Anne Kelly, Phil Dowling, president Clara ICA , Fr Willie Purcell, Clara, and members of the Clara guild.

Other guilds including Clough and the City guild were also present.

Celebrated by Fr Willie Purcell, a mass at Clara church proved to be very much a community effort.

The local Clara choir complemented the mass with beautiful songs and at the close of mass gave a wonderful rendition of ‘My Land’.

Members also took part in the readings as well as bringing ten different symbols to the altar during the Offertory procession.

Speaking to The Kilkenny Observer, president of Clara guild Phil Dowling thanked all who participated.  “The meal at the Clubhouse was a lovely occasion and Ian Brennan and his staff really pulled out all the stops to enhance the occasion”,  said Phil.

National president of ICA Liz Darmody presented a 70th anniversary certificate to ICA Clara. The national president complimented the Clara guild saying they should be very proud of the work and promotion that they continue to do that enhances the ICA . The certificate was accepted by Phil Dowling, president of the Clara guild.


A brief history of the ICA make interesting reading

Founded in May 1910 by Anita Lett in Bree County Wexford it was originally called ‘The Society of the Irish women’(UI)

Its aim was to improve the standard of life in rural Ireland through education.

In 1935 due to political issues it changed its name to Irish Country women’s association ( ICA)

Clara guild was formed on the 12th of May 1954 by a group of local women.

Mrs L Keohe was the first president and Miss Statia Costelloe secretary.

Committee members included  Mrs Foley, Mrs Rose Brennan, Mrs Magi Byrne,  Mrs Carmel O’Keeffe, Mrs Carrigan, and Mrs Madge Murphy.

During the anniversary meal at the Clubhouse, great memories of participating in different competitions such as crafts, knitting, sewing, crochet, patchwork

flower arranging and cookery were remembered.

The guild has an annual programme that also includes Line dancing, waltzing and ‘ mime to music’ where they competed in the ‘Hoist amazing Grace’ competition in the National concert hall.


They take great pride in having performed on stage at the National concert hall Dublin and being successful in  reaching the All- Ireland set dancing competition.

As well as attending An Grianán every year where members travel to learn different skills, Clara also attend musicals, pantomime and plays as part of their social calendar.

There is also an annual mass for present and past members which they rate as being very important as they believe it is essential to remember those who sowed the original seeds.

Concluding her chat with The Kilkenny Observer, Phil Dowling said that Clara is in a very strong position boasting 32 members in the guild. However, said Phil, there is always a welcome on the mat for new members.

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