Local women reviving craft skills

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Two years ago, the Galliagh Residents Association agreed to host crochet classes at their base in the estate, with assistance from the Culture Company.

But the level of interest, and the volume of work produced by the local participants since it started, has taken everybody involved by surprise.

Local Crochet Class participants and tutors pictured at the Galliagh Residents' Association's base in the estate.

Local Crochet Class participants and tutors pictured at the Galliagh Residents' Association's base in the estate.

The women- many of whom have never crocheted before- gather weekly on a Friday morning under the tutorship of sisters Margaret Crabtree and Karen McCaul.

Since the classes started, they have gone on to create whole collections of garments and articles for themselves, family and friends.

Monica Harkin and Tommy Mullan from the Galliagh Residents’ Association (GRA) said they were delighted at how well the classes have gone. GRA chair Mrs Harkin, who also attended the classes, said they were about more than just the artwork.

“I lost my husband, he passed away 10 months ago and I found coming here on a Tuesday and also on a Friday is something to look forward to. You are amongst friends.”

Some oif the items made by the women attending the Crochet Class in Galliagh.

Some oif the items made by the women attending the Crochet Class in Galliagh.

Margaret Crabtree said crochet was brought to Ireland by French nuns during the Famine in a bid to help women and girls here develop their own industry.

She said the class participants today practice different crochet styles from across the world and use various materials, even strips of plastic bags.

Ms Crabtree said the success of the project in Galliagh was being mirrored across Derry:

“Heritage crafts in the city have made a massive return, all age groups from primary 3s up to the eldest lady we have, who is 92.

“Some people could always knit but they’d never learned to crochet.”

Participant Ursula Hinds from Moss Park said the class has been “amazing”.

“I’ve been crocheting away for my two grandchildren in Norway. They are coming now next week so I have got my Mickey Mouse cushion ready and a dress for Sophia.”

Mary Doherty from Brookdale Park said: “I could always knit but I never crocheted because I was left handed, and I heard about this group and I am here now about two years and it is the best group there is. The craic is great, it’s great fun and we have two great teachers.”

The Galliagh Residents Centre was opened in 2001 and is also by the Off The Streets youth project.

The Crochet Club women and their work meanwhile are featured in our new video being uploaded today onto: www.derryjournal.com.