West Cork stitchers share their passion for fabric

Posted on: 6th October, 2014

Category: Arts & Entertainment

Contributor: West Cork People

Above: Some of the Patchwork and Quilting Group, Skeagh.

An exhibition of locally made patchwork quilts, in all their intricacies and colour, will be on display from  Tuesday, October 7 to Sunday, October 12 at the Old Skeagh Creamery, Skeagh, Skibbereen. The show is being hosted by Marie Sprott, who set up a group of stitchers in 2012 and now gives instruction two mornings and two evenings a week to West Cork women where chat, coffee and sewing all vie for importance. Marie originally came from Birr in County Offaly  but is now firmly established in West Cork.

The custom of patchwork quilting is still carried on all over Ireland, turning necessity into invention. These beautiful heirlooms continue to be created using scrap materials, or perhaps treasured old frocks that have long been outgrown or pretty fabrics found at charity shops and jumble sales. More frequently, however, they are now made from newly purchased fabrics of every hue and pattern.

Many quilts are made to traditional patterns and Marie’s first quilt was called Grandmother’s Country Garden, which is made up of hundreds of different little coloured and patterned hexagons of fabric, stitched together to create a sheet, which is then layered with wadding for warmth and backed with another fabric. For the past six years, she has been going to a retreat, run by the Quilters Guild of Ireland, to learn even more complex skills to enhance her work — all of which she generously passes on to her groups.

Historians have found evidence of patchwork — piecing small scraps of fabric together to create a large piece, then quilting layers together for warmth — throughout the ages.  The earliest examples have been found in Egyptian tombs and in China as long as 5000 years ago. Quilted materials were found in the construction of armour in the Middle Ages to keep soldiers warm.  As the European climate became colder around this time — 11th to 13th centuries — so bed quilts became more common, often embellished with more fabric pieces in pretty patterns, called appliqué.

Although patchwork quilts demonstrated admirable and frequently essential frugality, more than anything it was, and still is, fun to sit and chat with other women while you sew; having help when layering the batting; making decisions about colour or pattern and generally enjoying the company of others while creating something practical but also beautiful. Patchwork quilting has almost become an art form in itself and some of the shapes and patterns can take your breath away.

The Exhibition of Patchwork Quilts at Skeagh shows quilts made locally and some by members of the Quilters Guild of Ireland who were kind enough to lend the group display stands. If you want to find out more, have a look at their Facebook page for more information on quilting.  For information on the exhibition telephone Marie on 086 3774686. Open Tuesday, October 7 to Sunday, October 12, 10.30am to 4.30pm at the Old Skeagh Creamery, Skeagh. This is a free event but donations will be welcome and will all go to the Baltimore Life Boat fund.

How to get there? Half way between Skibbereen and Ballydehob is Kilcoe Church. If you are travelling west turn right with Kilcoe church on your left and drive for approximately two miles. You will find Skeagh Creamery on your right.

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Wave to Mary! 65-year-old Mary Nolan Hickey is running around the entire coast of the Island of Ireland to raise funds & awareness for the RNLI and is currently running the roads of West Cork.

Mary is the only woman to have completed every single Dublin Marathon (all 38 of them). She’s also completed the grueling Marathon des Sables in the Sahara Desert, known as the ‘toughest foot race on earth’.

To mark her 50th year involved in Athletics Mary is taking on her biggest challenge yet (even though she thought she’d already done that when completing the Dublin Marathon when she was over six months pregnant!) She wants to raise as much money as possible for the RNLI.

Mary started her epic journey in Arklow, Co. Wicklow, on New Year’s Day. She aims to cover up to 5000 kilometers, using coastal routes, over the next five months. She hopes to get back in time to get her first pension payment in June when she turns 66.

Mary will stop off at as many RNLI stations as possible, on her once in a lifetime adventure. As far as she knows no other woman has ever taken on this challenge.

Speaking about her journey Mary said:

“I wanted to prove that age not a barrier. Coming from a coastal town I have a deep affinity with our local RNLI station & volunteers and have huge admiration for the brave men and women who risk their lives to save lives at sea”.

Mary, who’s depending on the goodwill of communities along her route for accommodation, has been astounded by the response so far. “The support has been overwhelming,” she said. “I have met the most amazing and encouraging people along the way”.

To see more about Mary’s adventures, and to pinpoint her location today, check out her Facebook page - rnlilapofthemap2018.

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20th March, 2018  ·  


This Saturday the 10th March, will see some magically curious activity as local Bandon national schools compete in a Wizarding Harry Potter Quiz. The prize will be the beautiful Bandon Banshee Perpetual Cup.

As any Harry Potter enthusiast knows, Bandon has the unique honour of having a character named after the town. The Bandon Banshee, was referred to as the nemesis of Gilderoy Lockhart in the Chamber of Secrets. The book grossed €60 million in sales and was the 7th highest earning film of all time.

Locals, looking to enhance the town for young people, saw the quiz as an ideal way promote the connection. The universally absorbing book series brings young readers on a huge adventure of magic, adversity and triumph. It is also an exploration of loyalty and friendship, good and evil – so it is not only popular way to engage young people, it is a hugely positive connection.

Zoe Tennyson, one of the organisers said they were delighted with the response from schools who ran a qualifying quiz as part of World Book Day. On Saturday Bandon Town Hall will be transformed into Hogwarts Great Hall, with proceeds going Bandon Playground Group, and to cover costs of the event.

Bandon Books will be rewarding the winning team with vouchers to each of the five members. The Bandon Banshee, or Bean-sidhe na Bandaan Perpetual Cup will be hotly contested – but which school will the Banshee go to??

If you have any questions please call Marguerite McQuaid on 087 900 9494
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8th March, 2018  ·  

Ballineen Foróige Young Engineers Exhibition 23 February 2018

The inaugural Ballineen Foróige Young Engineers Exhibition will take place in Gort Mhuire Hall in Ballineen this Friday 23rd February. As part of Engineers Week 2018, leaders and members of Ballineen Foróige Club have organised an exhibition which will showcase a diverse and exciting range of engineering projects that have been undertaken by members of the club over the last few weeks, with the aid of leaders and a number of local engineers.

With the aid of local pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly, along with the support of STEAM Education, a UCC based company focused on promoting science, technology, engineering, arts, and maths subjects in primary schools, Ballineen Foróige has been engaging members and leaders in all things engineering over the last six weeks. From researching, designing, and prototyping a project based on local problems, to participating in various workshops on coding and careers in engineering, Ballineen Foróige have been extremely busy in preparation for the exhibition this coming Friday night.

On the night itself, Michael Loftus, Head of Engineering at CIT, Fintan Goold, Manager at Eli Lilly and All-Ireland Cork winning Footballer, along with Geraldine Coughlan of GCA Architects & Designers, a local business, will act as judges on the night, evaluating the different engineering projects and offering some advice to the members of the club. Also in attendance will be the CEO of Foróige Seán Campbell, along with a number of local councillors, TD’s and Senators.

Leading the team of Ballineen Foróige leaders organising the event, is Rebecca Dwyer, a bioprocess engineer at Eli Lilly. Rebecca recently became a leader in the club and says that Ballineen Foróige Young Engineer Exhibition 2018 “promises to be a fun, challenging and rewarding experience for all involved and we look forward to welcoming parents, relatives, friends and members of the public to the exhibition and film screening on the evening of Friday 23rd February.” Overall, there are twelve projects entered in the exhibition. One project, led by Cian Kennefick and Charlie Nolan, members of the starting out club, examines the possibility of installing speed ramps on the road near local primary school. Fourteen-year-old Charlie says he got involved in the project as it was something to do and it gets you thinking. Cian says the most exciting part of the project was the building of the prototypes.

Both Cian and Charlie, along with thirty other members of the club will display their projects this coming Friday 23 February in Gort Mhuire Hall in Ballineen. Doors open at 8pm and the event runs until 10pm. All are welcome to attend, and admission is free. Catering, including tea and coffee, will be provided on the night.
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20th February, 2018  ·  

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Main course

17th February, 2018  ·  

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