TWO crafty Whitegate ladies are putting their skills to good use by producing a range of handmade fabric face masks, and raising funds for Raheen Community Hospital in the process.
Mum and daughter Geraldine and Aoife Burke, who have both studied textile design, have made over 150 masks to-date and the items, which are machine washable and have a slot for filters, are available in local shops.
Once the road map for reopening Ireland was announced, and guidance provided recommending the wearing of face coverings in settings like shops and public transport, Geraldine and Aoife drew on their design and crafting skills and began to get creative. Raheen Community Hospital is a facility that is close to the hearts of everyone in East Clare and for the Burkes, it is particularly special.
“My father-in-law, Billy Burke, was in Raheen for nine years,” Geraldine explained. “He was a wonderful man, with a larger than life personality. The care he received at Raheen was just amazing. The place is very special to everyone in the local area. Billy passed away eight years ago and, whenever we can, we raise funds for the hospital.”
“It’s our go-to charity,” Aoife agreed. “It’s great to be able to give something back and to show our support for Raheen Community Hospital.”
Geraldine, who is originally from Dublin, came to the Banner County, after marrying a Clare man and after 20 years in Ennis, moved to East Clare. For the last ten years, she has been involved in crafting and it’s a hobby she is delighted to be able to share with Aoife. “We actually studied textile design together in Dublin, along with my aunt Marian from Donegal,” Aoife explained. “I had some health issues which meant I had to stay out of school for a while. The course was one weekend per month, and it meant I would work at my own pace. I then went on to study at Ballyfermot Senior College.”
Currently working in London, as an au pair for a leading Irish actress, Aoife returned to Ireland shortly before the lockdown and has been delighted to be able to spend her time producing something which will have so many benefits to the local community. “Between mum and myself, we’ve always got some kind of craft on the go,” Aoife explained. “Once people started hearing about the re-opening and the wearing of masks, that’s when we started to think about what we could do. At first, we were making masks to send out to family and friends and it took off from there.”
At this point, the ladies have nailed their technique and have an assembly line up and running. “I look after the first three steps,” outlined Aoife, “then I hand the pieces to mum and then we finish them together.”
Currently, the masks can be purchased at Mike Treacy’s shop and Mary’s (McDermott’s Xpress Stop). The ladies can cater for small orders by post and the best way to place an order is to email firstname.lastname@example.org.