Knitting cuddly chicks for cancer research

Margaret Buckley, Noreen Condon and Eily Shanahan knitting chickens at the speed of lightning on Tuesday last in Fermoy library. (Picture: Emily Aherne)

The Fermoy ICA knitting group have been knitting little woollen Easter chicks annually for the past 12 years and all profits made go to cancer research. 

A creme egg sits inside the colourful knitted chick and it is a sweet little Easter gift for children and adults alike. The little chickens cost only €2 and almost every cent is donated to cancer research.

The idea was brought to the ICA knitting group by Abby Feerick more than a decade ago, after she had survived and recovered from sever osepgial cancer. Abby underwent a groundbreaking stint of surgery lasting 12 hours back in 2000 to remove the cancerous tissue.

While Abby recouperated slowly over the next 12 months she felt she wanted to do something as a gesture of thanks to the researchers whose groundbreaking medical advancement in cancer treatment saved her life.

“I decided that I wanted to do something to pay back when I got better,” Abby told The Avondhu this week.

All the ICA members loved Abby’s idea and were very willing to help. Noreen Condon, secretary of Fermoy ICA, was given the pattern for the chickens by a friend in Cork and the group took on the challenge of knitting as many chicks as they could for Easter.

Selling them in their thousands, the group made it an annual project and are still knitting chicks that can be found in shops, resturants and other business around the local area this Lent.

“Each chick take about an hour to make,” Abby told The Avondhu.

The little detailed cluckers need to be knitted, the head needs to be stuffed and sewn, they eyes, beak and ribbon need to be added and finally the creme egg is popped inside before each little chick makes it to the shop.

The ladies must work quickly to supply the demand. Last year they made around 3,500 chickens while another year in the early days of the project they made ove €10,000 for cancer research.

“Every penny counts,” Noreen said.

However, the ICA knitting group, knit more than just the colouful chicks. The group meet every Tuesday afternoon in Fermoy library between 3pm and 4pm and they knit and chat and exchange stories of the week as well as reminicising on days gone by.

“Its a pastime for us too,” said Abby, Noreen adding: “It’s also a great social event.”

The group are exceedingly generous to charities and throughout the year they knit hats and scarves for poor children living in an orphanage in Africa.

The ICA knitters also make items to go into shoeboxes for the shoebox appeal every Christmas as well as knitting other items all year long for people in need of them.

The little chickens have travelled far and wide and are avaialable in shops, resturants and other public places in Fermoy, Mitchelstown, Mallow and beyond.

You can even find them for sale in Martin Shanahan’s Fishy Fishy restaurant in Kinsale as well as in outelts in Laois and Dublin. You can also pick up you Easter chicken in The Avondhu offices.

The hard work and determination of this group of women is particularly fitting at this time as we celebrated International Women’s Day on Thursday last. Here is a fine example of women coming together to support each other and work together to make the world a better place.

Contnued success to these great group of women who are putting their talents to use for the greater good, and showing that cancer can be survived with major advancements being made in cancer research each day.