THE now famous Clare Quilt has found a new permanent home right here in the county that inspired its design.
The impressive quilt featuring 60 individual handmade squares depicting scenes from across the county was unveiled this week at its new home in Cois na hAbhna, the regional centre of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann in Ennis.
This comes after Comhaltas were the lucky winners of a special raffle for the quilt which raised funds for two local charities West Clare Cancer Support and Sláinte An Chláir.
It was thought that the quilt would be brought to Comhaltas headquarters in Dublin, however Labhrás Ó Murchú, Ardstiúrthóir generously suggested that if a home could be found in Clare then it should stay in the county.
The creation of the quilt was the brainchild of Valery Larkin, who previously spear-headed the creation of the world’s largest knitted blanket with help from knitters all over the world.
She was seeking a project to keep her occupied during Covid, and after putting the word out she was joined in this endeavour by 27 other like-minded women. The group helped re-create some of Clare’s famous locations, lesser known spots and images associated with music, dance and sports on the quilt.
Speaking to the Clare Champion at the launch in Cois na hAbhna she revealed it took three appearances in court to get a lottery licence to allow the fundraiser to go ahead. She explained, “The reason is that lottery licences are usually only given to registered charities. When I was given it, the judge said I set a precedent. I was delighted to get the licence and to be able to help support these worthy charities.”
She is thrilled with the quilt’s new permanent home saying, “I thought they would take it up to Dublin, but Labhras told me it was going to be put in Cois na hAbhna and I thought, brilliant, it couldn’t go to a better place because this quilt is all about Clare.”
She paid tribute to all those who helped her in the project which was undertaken during Covid. “It was a mad idea and I discovered there were other women out there as mad as me which was great. When I put the idea out there the response I got was just phenomenal.
“Everybody had a different way of capturing the image on their square, the imagination and fabrics they used were just fantastic. Also, some places were very good to us when it came to putting it together, giving us space, the West County, Corofin Community Centre and Lisdoonvarna Fáilte. We had great craic putting it together.”
Frank Whelan of Cois na hAbhna told us preparations were being made to transport the quilt to Dublin before the interjection of Labhrás Ó Murchú.
“He suggested if we could find a home in Clare that it should stay in Clare, and we are delighted to have it. It just works here.”
The launch was attended by a number of the women who had been involved in the quilt’s creation, with Mr Whelan saying, “Something that impressed Labhrás about this project was the women coming together, the idea of the Meitheal.
“That determination that despite the most difficult of times during the pandemic to keep going until the end, that impressed him hugely. He said it couldn’t be more appropriate to have something like this in a Comhaltas building.”
He continued that the quilt will remain at Cois na hAbhna, “forever more hopefully and I’m sure it will become a great talking point and will be the backdrop for many a photograph. The story of the quilt I have no doubt will travel the world from here and it is great credit to the ladies who spent time putting it together.”
Mayor of the Ennis Municipal Councillor Clare Colleran Molloy officially launched the quilt describing all those involved in bringing it to fruition as “incredible”. Singling out each woman involved by name she said, “You all deserve a round of applause, not only for creating a beautiful piece of art, but you did it for good causes. That is very positive and it is this kind of get up and go led by people like Valery that creates a positive impact.”
Those who created the quilt were: Bernie Anslow, Nora Barry, Concepta Barry, Marie Bowe, Bernie Callinan, Alacoque Carey, Carolanne Clooney, Teresa Connolly, Eileen Considine, Liz Davoran, Martha de Haro, Maureen Flynn, Soo Ling Howard, Yvonne Keogh, Valery Larkin, Mary Lee, Mary McKee, Roisin Neylon, Mary Neylon, Loretta O’Brien, Cora O’Grady, Imelda O’Grady, Noelle O’Looney, Abby Richardson, Éadaoin Ryan, Caroline Cratloe, Adriana Bogart and Janny Venafro.