The Frenchpark Irish Countrywomen’s Guild was established on January 15th, 1963 with 45 members paying four shillings for yearly membership.
Fast-forward to July 2nd, 2023 and the current members celebrated the guild’s 60th anniversary alongside invited ICA members from across the country, guest of honour and Frenchpark ICA founding member, Teresa Duffy from Ballinagare, and ICA National President Hilda Roche at the Douglas de hÍde Intreperative Centre in Portahard.
Two other founder members Bridie McLoughlin and Gertrude O’Connor were unable to attend while all deceased founder members were fondly remembered.
Regional President Mary Harkin from Sligo and local Federation President Marie Gorman each expressed their delight with their visit to the centre. The celebrations continued in Frenchpark Community Centre with a traditional ICA afternoon tea meeting up with old friends, music and dancing.
Secretary Kitty Harrington briefly outlined all the benefits which the association brought to the members of the community and there were also speakers on diet, feed the family, budgeting and advisers on buying the new and modern electrical appliances. There was also advice on gardening, poultry rearing, and classes in dressmaking.
Over the years since those early days, ICA members have been very much involved in every aspect of community life. For years they ran the annual sports day while swimming lessons were also organized, and set dancing classes were enjoyed by many. There were also farm exchanges with women from Holland and from Northern Ireland.
At that time, you could not travel to Dublin and back on the same day on public transport and so started ‘Annie’s Bus’ which regularly was used for day outings to various parts of the country including trips to the Spring Show.
One of the highlights of the year for the children was the First Holy Communion Breakfast and there were also many Senior Citizens’ parties which incorporated a celebration for any parishioner who had reached the age of 90. The Annual Breast Cancer Walk has been equally successful since 2000 thanks to the great support in the area.
The ICA continues to go from strength to strength in Co Roscommon with two new Guilds formed this past year in Tulsk and Kiltullagh.