Every ICA Guild in the country encourages the Guild members to get involved in a variety of activities in her Guild. The opportunity is open to all Guild members to become a specialist in her Guild and take up the role of guiding the other members in the following areas:
The members of the ICA are very skilled in the making of crafts and at promoting crafts and in schools and Guilds around the country. We are proud to practice and teach some of the more specialist skills that have been crafted in this country for generations. Some of these crafts include heritage crafts like lace making, particularly Borris Lace. We run courses in many different types of Irish Heritage Crafts in An Grianán and our Guilds practice and learn a wide variety of heritage skills and crafts. Each Guild has a Craft Specialist and she helps the Guild to decide which craft to focus on for that term and also helps her to arrange a public exhibition or display to showcase the work. Guild Specialists are always on the lookout for members with a special talent or an interest in a particular craft, so she will talk to all new members about their interests and skills.
A useful site for Craft Specialists is the Craft Council of Ireland’s site http://directory.ccoi.ie/clients/ where they list a directory of craft producers.
Many Guilds participate in local amateur dramatic competitions and performances. Some Federations are so strong in this area that they run the local Drama Festival. Wicklow Federation has successfully run the One Act Drama Festival in Wicklow since 1953.
There are 22 different Arts Awards available to ICA members. Some awards are for Groups and others are for individuals. Some awards can be submitted through Irish. Arts awards are given for a wide variety of skills including Effective Speaking, Weaving, Photography, Acting, Choral Singing and many more.
All Guild members are encouraged to do an Arts Award. It is the responsibility of the Arts and Drama Specialist to ensure that her Guild has all of the information regarding teachers, demonstrators, and courses and that she stays in contact with the Federation Arts Promoter to see what Arts and Drama events are going on in her county. She is responsible for registering all groups or individuals who are doing an Arts Award with the Federation Arts specialist. Arts and Drama specialists can request an Arts Award booklet from Central Office.
The Arts and Drama Specialist is responsible for setting up a discussion group in her Guild to discover what the focus should be with regards to Arts and Drama for the coming year. The Amateur Drama Council of Ireland is particularly helpful for Guilds looking to participate in Amateur Dramatics see http://www.adci.ie/ for more information.
There is a wide variety of competitions and contests in the ICA calendar. A full programme of events is available on the ICA website www.ica.ie and all Guilds are encouraged to participate in competitions and contests. The ICA members get involved in contests and competitions at a local level, Federation level and National level.
Some of the more feted competitions include the annual “Make and Model” contest, when Guild members hand make an outfit to a specification for example a two piece outfit for a Garden Party and then they participate in a number of heats culminating in them modeling the winning garment alongside other national contestants at a National Fashion show.
Other favourite competitions include the National Pitch and Putt, the National baking competition and the National Choral and Set dancing competitions. All of these competitions take place first at a local level, followed by Federation and National competitions.
Another example of national contests is the Short Story Competition. The winning authors work is printed and sold at all National Meetings for all members to enjoy. ICA members also compete in stitching, oil painting and crochet and many other crafts.
The Contest specialist is responsible for liaising with the Federation Contest Secretary. She should keep her Guild informed of all Federation and National competitions and contests. She must be aware of closing dates for competition entries and make sure that all entries for Federation and National competitions are sent to the Federation Contest Secretary before the closing date.
All Guilds are encouraged to study cookery, home economics, budgeting, horticulture, the making of preserves, poultry keeping, stock rearing, cheese making etc. Many ICA members have learned their skills in produce at a young age and continue to pass on these skills to their fellow members at Guild demonstrations and to their family members. The ICA has a long history of producing high quality goods at home and then selling them in local farmers or country markets. The ICA was responsible for setting up the Country Shop in St Stephen’s green where members from around the country could sell their home made clothes, cloth, produce and other items.
Many members still enjoy selling their produce at local country markets. Some Guilds actively take part in competitions of produce in local county shows and other ICA members judge and mark entries in county shows.
A useful site for produce specialists is the Country Markets site http://www.countrymarkets.ie/
The Produce specialist should set up a discussion group to determine the focus for the coming year. She should encourage the forming of “produce groups” in the Guild and put them in contact with local teachers, lecturers and demonstrators. She will need to stay in contact with the Federation Produce specialist for events and competitions at local level, Federation level and national level. It is her responsibility to examine the cost of organising produce groups to travel and participate in shows etc.
All Guilds are encouraged to enjoy some suitable sport and leisure activity. According to research, getting and staying active has an enormous effect on our quality of life as we get older. “Go for Life” is the national programme for sports and physical activity for older people in Ireland. They provide Guilds with small grants to engage in physical activities and sports and they also help Guilds to plan these activities. A Guild could get more active in fun and interesting ways. Go for Life tutors, based around the country, will come and talk to your Guild about getting more active, what activities groups can do and can even offer workshops to people in your group to give them the skills to run regular activities.
The sports and leisure specialist is responsible for planning a sports programme suitable for her Guild. She is also responsible for liaising between the Guild and the Federation Sports and Leisure Specialist. She is responsible for helping the Guild decide what their sports focus is for the year and for contacting Go for Life for grant funding. http://ageandopportunity.ie/go-life
One of the aims of the association is to encourage the use of the Irish Language. As stated in our Handbook and Constitution. The objectives of the association are to bring women together in fellowship and through co-operative effort, to develop and improve the standard of rural and urban life in Ireland having due regard for our Irish Culture and to encourage the use of the Irish Language in the affairs of Bantracht na Tuaithe.
Each Guild appoints a Timire who promotes bilingualism among her Guild. She encourages members to use Irish terms and maybe to use sing “My Land” in Irish or use Irish vocabulary in a Guild meeting eg: Ba mhaith liom baill nua a chur in aithne dhibh (I would like to introduce a new member to you).
The Timire is encouraged to look at Irish Study sites eg: http://irishstudysite.com/ this is a totally free Irish Study Site for those who want to learn Irish or for those who want free access to study materials. It is an open and free site. The Timire should act as a liaison between Guild members and the Federation Timire and should attend any training courses and other activities organised by her Federation Timire.
The ICA is affiliated to the Associated Countrywomen of the World (ACWW) http://www.acww.org.uk/ and it is the responsibility of the International Specialist to encourage the Guild to subscribe to the publication “The Countrywoman” and with sanction of the Guild Committee should read out interesting articles and news from the magazine.
The ICA is also the only Irish member of the Confederation of Family Organisations of Europe (COFACE) and she should be aware of the main aims and the mission statement of COFACE and spread this information among her members. COFACE regularly organise conferences and events around Europe that may be of interest to some members. More information can be found under the heading International elsewhere in this website and international officers should have a look at http://www.coface-eu.org/en/ which is the English version of the site.
International officers are responsible for organising a Guild International Month programme. This can be an evening of fun and entertainment from one particular country eg: Spanish Evening enjoying Spanish food and maybe trying a little flamenco dancing. The international officer is also responsible for organising trips to foreign countries should the Guild wish to travel abroad. She should attend events organised by her Federation and at National level. It is also her responsibility to look after and be helpful to foreign visitors who visit the Guild or her area. She should inform herself of places of local interest and any available guides who know the local history and area well.
Some MEPs (Members of the European Parliament) invite ICA members and other national groups to travel to Europe with them to visit sites of interest in various European countries while learning about the structures of the European Parliament and how our role as citizens of Europe can be enhanced by active participation in referenda and European elections.
The International officer should liaise with her Federation on international events in her county and at National level.
The Jewel in the Crown of our Association is An Grianán our Adult Education Centre in Termonfeckin Co. Louth. Gifted to the ICA in 1954 An Grianán is a haven of rest and relaxation for ICA members and non-members alike. All Guilds and Federations plan a visit to An Grianán during the ICA year. Some of these visits are called “County weeks” when a group of Guilds from any given Federation meet together in An Grianán to participate in classes and courses and to spend time meeting and chatting with other members from the same county. Individual Guilds also plan summer outings and Christmas parties in An Grianán where they enjoy sumptuous food prepared by our own resident chef made from local seasonal produce. The An Grianán Bar is always open in the evenings where residents can enjoy live music and dancing on a regular basis.
It is the role of the Teachta to co-ordinate the Guild’s visit to An Grianán and to ensure that all members are kept well informed about the programme of courses and to encourage to them to avail of some of the excellent training on offer.
She attends regular Teachta Training which is available to all Teachtai. She attends all Federation meetings and is in contact with the Federation Teachta. She also stays in regular contact with the staff in An Grianán to ensure she has the most up to date list of specials deals for ICA members.
Some sponsored courses and scholarships are available to ICA members and the Teachta can give detailed information of these.
Friends of An Grianán was started in 1964 with an annual subscription of 1 guinea to raise necessary funds to help with the running of the Adult Education Centre. Today there are more than 500 individual members who pay an annual subscription. “Friends” host an array of Fundraising initiatives during the year and all proceeds to An Grianán.