A GROUP that has been working to capture the fabric of County Clare will feature on tonight’s edition of Nationwide on RTE1.
The Clare Quilt Project has drawn in women from all around the county in a co-operative effort over the past six months. Members of the group each contributed a square to the patchwork quilt that artfully represents the best of the Banner.
The group was initiated by Valerie Larkin who was involved in the project to make the largest knitted blanket in the world for a Guinness Book of Records attempt four years ago.
One of the contributors Bernie Callinan told The Clare Champion, “That project was done in The Showgrounds in Ennis, it measured about 21,000 square feet, through that record has been broken since.
“It was knitted squares that came from all over the world, they were all put together. It took about two to three years and actually the pope came to Ireland the day it was validated by the Guinness Book of Records.
“So, Bernie said, “Valerie decided on another project, this quilt, which we got going about six months ago. It’s a women’s group, we’d meet, say, in the hall in Corofin to to sew it together.
“I did the Cliffs Of Moher, I’m originally from Liscannor. Different people did different areas. If you had a connection to an area you would put your hand up to do that – Bridges of Ross, Killaloe, Quin Abbey, each area was done.”
But not just landmarks either, there are patches depicting Irish dancers, musicians, fiddles, harps, so the culture of the county is represented as well.
The members would chat about what to do and meet up now and again. Though the project involved a large group, the women were circumspect about meeting in big numbers, given the pandemic restrictions in play.
“We’ve always made it a fun thing,” said Bernie, “have the chat and the tea and biscuits, it’s a lovely group.”
Now plans are afoot to put the finished product on display, for the moment, in the departures lounge at Shannon Airport.
Of course you need to have permission to go into the departures lounge in Shannon, Bernie mused, before joking “We’ll have to go on holidays now to see it! Any excuse to get going.”
Eventually though the quilt will go into the private ownership of whoever wins a fundraising raffle, which has been organised by Valerie.
I applied for and got a lottery licence,” Valerie told The Champion. “It took me three court appearances to get it because they don’t usually issue these licences to individuals. You have to be a registered charity, but I got it anyway, my record was non-existent, I’ve a very boring past,” she laughed.
“We’re going to have a limited lottery, 200 tickets sold, and the tickets are €100 each and the prize is the quilt, which is 10 feet wide with a 6 foot drop. Every square is framed and the creator’s name is on it, so people can look at it in years to come and say ‘oh my granny did that’.
“It will go in the departures at the airport for the time being, which means only people leaving the country will see it, but I am hoping if there are some local companies that have a big enough space to display it, then they will show it. I know Lisdoonvarna Failte will put it up in the Pavilion and that would be a safe enough place to visit it.”
She plans to hold the lottery when either 200 tickets are sold or on March 31, whichever comes first, and the beneficiaries will be Doolin Sea Rescue, West Clare Cancer Support and Slainte An Chlair.
Anyone interested in buying a ticket for the fundraising lottery can contact Valerie at 086-3685030.