May Campbell has been elected to the helm of the Irish Countywomen’s Association (ICA) Longford Federation. Appointed last Summer, the new president is determined to shake away the many misconceptions that exist in relation to the organisation, and she is focused on recruiting new members – a task that she regards as “a must” if the organisation is to survive. .
“It was an honour to become president of the Longford Federation,” smiled May, as she sat and chatted to the Leader last week. “There are many things that I want to do, but one of the most important is to encourage younger women to join the ICA.”
Established in 1954 in Longford town, the ICA went from strength to strength from the moment of its inception. More and more guilds around the county were formed on the back of the Longford association and it is estimated that there were over 10,000 women involved, nationally, that is up until about 10 or 15 years ago, when numbers began to decline. Since then membership has fallen significantly, however Longford’s new president is adamant, that ICA is one of the most progressive and supportive entities available to women on this island.
Married to Jim, May is originally from Co Mayo and the couple have three sons. For May, ICA is about building friendships between women across the community.
“I first joined ICA when I came to Longford 20 years ago; it was such a great place to meet new people and to meet people with common interests,” she said. “Once you attended the meetings, there was great camaraderie between the women and the best of friendships were established. You learn so much about yourself and about your own abilities, and then of course the older members are always on hand to pass on their wisdom and skills to the younger members.”
ICA is running a national Recruitment Day on March 2 next.
“The idea is to get each federation to become more active in the way it recruits and encourages younger members to come on board,” the local president continued. “We will be at Tesco here in Longford town on the day; we will have a stand with all the relevant information and we will chat to women about the role and ethics of the organisation - and the benefits to them by joining up.”
Since May of last year, eight new members have joined the Longford Guild.
“It is great to see new members coming through the door,” she added. “ICA provides women with a voice – we were particularly vocal on the closure of garda stations for example and there is a great social aspect to the ICA. Travel, weekends away, theatre and events at An Grianan are just a sample of what we are involved in.”
Meetings take place on the first Wednesday of each month at Templemichael College. Benefits include the opportunity to learn new skills, make friends and avail of discounts in local stores. For more information, contact secretary Kathleen Kelly on (086) 3194662.