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Mystery yarn bomber lifts spirits in Whitegate

A MYSTERY yarn-bomber is being thanked for their colourful attempts to lift the spirits of the Whitegate community over the course of the lock-down.

Residents were intrigued to wake up to a riot of colourful knitted and crocheted items festooning poles and signage over the last three weekends. Messages of hope and encouragement were emblazoned in the vibrant displays, some of which were in the Whitegate club colours. Among the phrases bedecking the town was ‘What’s the Craic?’, placed outside Mike Treacy’s shop and ‘Smile’, and ‘Don’t Worry, Be Happy!’ on signs at McDermott’s Post Office. Expressing disappointment at the ongoing closure of licensed premises, the yarn-bomber put the words ‘Ah Feck’ outside O’Riordan’s Half Barrel pub.

A reference to the 1980s Bon Jovi anthem, ‘Livin’ on a Prayer’, prompted local suspicions as to the age-group of the anonymous crafts enthusiast, but, for the moment, despite the best efforts of the community, their identity remains unknown.

Local resident Sadie Monks said the mystery man or woman had lifted spirits at a very difficult time. “It was so nice,” she said. “The weather was lovely and the colour really brought a smile to peoples’ faces. At first, after the first episode of yarn-bombing on May 2, I thought it might have been something to do with May Day traditions. The pieces were put up and taken down in the dead of night for the last three weekends. One of them says ‘We’ve got each other and that’s a lot’. That suggests to me what the vintage of the yarn-bomber might be.”

The spontaneous explosions of colour, while very welcome, have given rise of all kinds of speculation as to who is behind them. Sadie herself said she had been a suspect at one point. “We’re all guessing and I’ve been asked if it was me,” she said. “In my case, I’d be more likely to build a wall than knit or crochet. I thought I knew who it might be, but that person denied it. I think that if it a group of people are involved, word would have gotten out.”

Sadie added that local publicans Batt and Annette O’Riordan had gone so far as to check their CCTV for any sightings of the mystery crafts-person, and that, on foot of their efforts, she would have to revise her opinion. “My theory on who it was is now dead in the water,” she said. “The car came from the wrong direction and the person wasn’t the same build at all. The mystery deepens.”

Batt O’Riordan told The Champion that the yarn-bombing was a source of a lot of conversation and a brilliant idea: “The most important thing here is that nobody has any idea who is behind this. It’s keeping everybody guessing and talking, and there really isn’t that much to talk about at the moment. It’s really brought a boost to people at a tough time.”

Both Sadie and Batt agreed that the quality of the work that had gone into the knitted and crocheted items was outstanding. “An awful lot of time, thought and effort has been put in,” said Batt. “It’s all hand made, by the looks of it, and there’s isn’t a single stitch out of place when you look closely at the pieces.”

Said Sadie: “There’s just an incredible effort and a lot of skill involved. It’s the work of someone who has had some time on their hands and whoever they are, we’re grateful and delighted with what they’re doing.”




About Fiona McGarry

Fiona McGarry joined The Clare Champion as a reporter after a four-year stint as producer of Morning Focus on Clare FM. Prior to that she worked for various radio, print and online titles, including Newstalk, Maximum Media and The Tuam Herald. Fiona’s media career began in her native Mayo when she joined Midwest Radio. She is the maker of a number of radio documentaries, funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI). She has also availed of the Simon Cumbers Media Fund to report on development issues supported by Irish Aid in Haiti. She won a Justice Media Award for a short radio series on the work of Bedford Row Project, which supports prisoners and families in the Mid-West. Fiona also teaches on the Journalism programmes at NUI Galway. If you have a story and would like to get in touch with Fiona you can email her at fmcgarry@clarechampion.ie or telephone 065 6864146.

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