IT STARTED very recently as a gathering where crafts people of every and any description could meet, chat, exchange ideas and teach old skills to new people.
But now the Abbeyfeale Craft Co-Op is about to be launched on the world wide web and there are plans for a craft outlet that will become a desired destination for coach loads of tourists.
Mary Shanahan and Mary O’Connor knew each other through other community activities and Mary O’Connor’s role as Family Support and Development worker with West Limerick Resources.
“We were both interested in crafts and talked about setting up a group, based on the ‘Stitch and Bitch’ model. We wanted local people, people from other countries and members of the Traveller community to come together,” said Mary Shanahan.
The group got support funding for the first ten weeks of meetings from West Limerick Resources and support from Glorach Community Theatre and then, enter Jill Bednar, a Denver businesswoman whose family hail from down the road in Kilmorna. She was introduced to the craft co-op by Community Council chairman, Maurice O’Connell, whose gimlet eye saw a networking opportunity.
“I still have huge connections here. Our family still has the farm and we are blessed that through a lot of struggle, it didn’t have to be sold. Abbeyfeale has so much to offer but I wanted to have something that would be a reason for coach loads of visitors to stop and I thought a craft outlet would be perfect,” Jill told the Limerick Post.
After a meeting with the members of the co-op, it was agreed that the first move would be for Jill to set up a facility to sell the fruits of their work on-line.
“I’ll be attending two of the biggest Celtic wholesale fairs in the United States next year and I will be presenting items made by the Abbeyfeale co-op on an international scale that is brand new. I’m passionate about this and about bringing visitors into Abbeyfeale,” said Jill.
“This is a very new idea and we are taking it step by step. But in the long run, we are looking for sustainability,” said Mary Shanahan.
“There are people in the group who are hobby crafts people, others who are already doing it commercially and there are people coming who just want to learn. This is a very exciting development,” she added.