Women in Churchtown

Twenty three years ago, a group of women from Rathfarnham, Churchtown and surrounding districts, met in Nutgrove House, one time Dower House of Rathfarnham Castle, now, alas! demolished and at that meeting Rathfarnham Guild of the Irish Countrywomen’s Association came into being. Those women, some forty three in all, had come together in response to an appeal by the late Mrs. Moira Brady, who had come to live in Churchtown from Kilkenny, where she had been an enthusiastic I.C.A. member. She believed that a branch of the Association could only benefit the women of Rathfarnham, which incidentally, was then classified officially as a rural area. At the first meeting, 3rd March, 1959, Mrs. Brady was elected President and it was agreed that members would meet on the first Tuesday of each month, this to be the Business meeting and a further meeting, a “Work” meeting on the third Tuesday of each month, where members can organise any activities they wish.

A special programme is planned for each Business meeting, a demonstration of a craft or cookery, a talk on some social or topical subject, local history, Art or music appreciation, the variety is endless. Fame and popularity spread, membership increased, so bigger and better accommodation was needed. In October 1963, the De La Salle Brothers, very kindly offered the College Assembly hall, a few years later, reconstruction work in the College necessitated a further move, this time to the Brothers Primary school, Whitehall Road where meetings still take place and every need and comfort is assured, thanks to Brother Finbarr, Headmaster.

Down the years, members have learned to perfect their skills and talents, others have discovered new skills, learning from each other all the time. Handcrafts flourish, the Drama and Debating groups and the Choir have won many awards. Community work is not neglected, Senior citizens enjoy an annual “party”, volunteers work regularly at the local lunch club and meals-on-wheels. Wireless for the Blind, I.S.P.C.C. and Saor an Leinbh are just some of the charitable organisations which receive regular help. Recently, the Guild has raised quite substantial sums of money for the Mentally and Physically Handicapped and for St. Luke’s Hospital Appeal fund. At present, arrangements are under way for a return visit to Women’s Institute, Castlewellan, Co. Down, they came to Rathfarnham in 1980, a small but, perhaps, helpful effort to forge links of friendship with the North. In Rathfarnham Guild, meetings are always well attended, are enjoyable, lively and informative. Long may it continue so!.

Eilish Cogan 

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