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President of the Clare Federation of the ICA, Mary O'Halloran, centre, with members of the federation who cut and made more than 100 scrubs for use by private nursing homes in Clare as part of the Sew Scrubs for Ireland campaign. Included are, at front, Eileen Corry (Doora Guild) and Kathleen Barry (Fergus Guild), with back from left, Theresa O'Sullivan (Clooney-Quin Guild), Ann Fitzgibbon, Quin; Marie Considine (Doora Guild) and Brid McGrath (Clooney-Quin Guild).

ICA sews scrubs for nursing home staff

Members of Clare ICA and their friends joined forces and a nationwide appeal to sew scrubs for people working in healthcare settings during the Covid-19 pandemic.

And the fruits of the endeavours was acknowledge last Monday when Clare ICA members and volunteer sewers Jenni Bostok, Ailish Malone and Mary Neylon handed over sets of scrubs to staff at St Senan’s Nursing Home.

Clare ICA member Mary Neylon outlined their involvement in the campaign.

“When the Coronavirus crisis highlighted a shortage of PPE in healthcare settings in Ireland, many people were moved to try to combat the difficulty. One of these was Sineád Lawlor. She decided to enlist volunteers to sew up the uniforms (scrubs) needed.

She set up an online Scrubs for Ireland Go-Fund-Me page to collect donations, so that she could buy material and then asked ICA to contact sewing personnel nationwide,” Mary explained.

The usual fabric providers, Mary added, were swamped by requests from China, Italy, Spain and the other countries which had declared an emergency before Ireland did. However, Sineád, with her background in stage and screen costume design, figured she could use her contacts to source fabrics elsewhere, suitable for scrubs.

“The Irish Countrywomen’s Association, with branches throughout Ireland and a 110 year history of promoting and preserving handicrafts, was an ideal match for Sineád in sewing the scrubs.

“Clare ICA offered to help just before Easter and Clare Federation President, Mary O’Halloran, together with National President, Josephine Helly, spoke about the project on local radio.

Bales of fabric arrived towards the end of April. Meantime, volunteers had come on board to sew the patterns. Both ICA and non-members offered their services. Many sewing machines had to be dusted down and oiled to get them ready for the task,” she remarked.

Sineád provided the scrubs pattern and fabric pieces were cut out  in two marathon sessions, in Quin and Kilmurry McMahon.

Packs were delivered to volunteers all around Clare in early May, with a set of instructions.

And then the fun began! The outfits had to be sewn so that they could be worn inside-out or right-side out. Most clothes are only designed to be worn right-side out, so this set of instructions was unusual, to say the least.

Perplexed sewers made heroic efforts to get the fabric to do what it was supposed to do, and eventually, they succeeded,” Mary enthused.

Last weekend, just over 100 sets of scrubs made by the team of volunteers organized by Clare ICA were delivered to nursing homes throughout the county.

Hopefully, they will be useful to staff, where they have been delivered,” Mary said.

About Gerry McInerney

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