A Brief History of ICA

Download the ICA Handbook 2014.

(from ICA Handbook 2012)

The Beginnings

The ICA was founded in May 1910 by a small group of well educated and largely Protestant women in Bree, Co Wexford. Called the society of the United Irishwomen (UI), its aim was "to improve the standard of life in rural Ireland through education and Co-operative effort." From the start, the UI was non-denominational and non-party political, principles which continue to this day and our members are drawn from every background and shade of opinion. The inspiration for the UI came from the Co-operative Movement whose motto was "better farming, better business and better living." Speaking in 1910, the founder of the Co-operative Movement, Horace Plunkett, remarked that the better living would come from "the women of Ireland". At the time, life for women in rural Ireland was in the main one of hardship and drudgery and the society set out to offer friendship, hope, support and leadership.

From UI to ICA

In 1935 the Society of the United Irishwomen changed its name to the Irish Countrywomen´┐Żs Association to avoid being associated with a subversive organisation of the time, the United Ireland Party. The ICA was generally perceived to be a rural organisation and at around the same time Town Associations were formed to cater for the needs of urban women. Today, the ICA has 562 local Guilds throughout Ireland in towns, villages and rural areas. For the vast majority of women in Ireland there is an ICA guild which meets within a short drive of their home. They offer as they have always done, support and fun and opportunities to make friends, learn skills and contribute to the wider community.

Making a Difference

From the start, the Society of the United Irishwomen tackled the big issues of the day that affected womens' lives and this has continued throughout the decades. The ICA has been instrumental in providing practical support in the development of basic utilities in Ireland, such as water and electricity and in influencing policy in health, education, adult education, agriculture, horticulture, arts & crafts and on a range of other issues.


In more recent years there have been intensive campaigns for breast and cervical cancer screening and these continue to be priorities as we work to achieve the best possible preventative and care services for women. Not content to wait for Government initiatives, ICA members have been determined fundraisers for Breast Cancer research and strenuous in highlighting and supporting women in the breast cancer misdiagnosis debacle of more recent years. On a practical level the ICA itself has responded to its members' health needs and in 1990 established the ICA Counselling Service and Helpline, giving confidential consultation, counselling and therapy to members and their families.



08/02/17 - News mailings available for Oct 2016 to Jan 2017.

04/10/16 - September news mailings available.

18/08/2016 - August news available. Some more photos from Castledermot Guild.

05/05/2016 - Some lovely photos from Castledermot Guild.

26/04/16 - March and April news mailings available.

19/02/16 - January and February news mailings available.

17/12/15 - The new An Grianán Programme for 2016 is now available.

26/11/15 - The competitions page has been updated for 2016!

26/11/15 - Craft day in Suncroft on Saturday 28th November.

26/6/15 - Kildare Federation Meeting will take place Mon 29th June at 8pm in The Parish Centre, Newbridge. NB: Judging of the Brown Bread competition will take place on the night, Bread to be in place by 7.30pm. Guild secretaries please let Newbridge Guild know how many will be attending for catering purposes.

22/6/15 - The Kildare Federation Table Quiz will take place on Wed 24th June at 8pm in Maynooth GAA, Moyglare Road, Maynooth. Come along, meet friends and enjoy this fun night!

16/5/15 - May news mailing now available.

29/4/15 - The National Brown Bread Baking Competition 2015 has been announced.

25/4/15 - Congratulations and best wishes for the future to Marie O'Toole as the new National President of ICA!

20/4/15 - April 2015 news mailing.

10/4/15 - Kildare Federation Art and Craft Show will take place on Sat 25th April. Venue: Rathmore Hall, Rathmore, Naas. Details.

10/4/15 - Photos from Guild of the Year competition.

9/4/15 - Dates for your diary at An Grianán this year.

9/4/15 - Congratulations to Kill guild who came 2nd in the Patsy Lawlor Shield for Set Dancing. Congratulations also to Suncroft guild who came 2nd in the national ICA quiz in An Grianán.

27/3/15 - We wish Suncroft Guild all the best in the Quiz Finals and Kill Guild best wishes also in the Set Dancing Competition this weekend!

27/3/15 - March 2015 news mailing.

24/2/15 - Reminder for Guild of the Year Competition on 21st March, in Kilcock. Details on competitions page.

24/2/15 - Lace Convention in an Grianán in Sep 2015.

20/2/15 - February 2015 news mailing.

2/2/15 - January 2015 news mailing.

20/11/14 - International Day

29 October 2014 - Good luck also to Niamh Headon of Ballymore Eustace guild who is representing Kildare in the Gem Pack competition today! Apologies for the omission.

29 October 2014 - Best wishes and good luck to Margaret Houlihan (Maynooth Guild) today in An Grianán from her guild and Kildare Federation! She is the Kildare finalist in the Gem Pack Competition.

27 October 2014 - October 2014 news mailing uploaded.

19 October 2014 - Competitions info for 2014/2015 uploaded.

27 August 2014 - August 2014 news mailing uploaded.

23 August 2014 - Photos have been uploaded from the Wexford trip in June.

20 August 2014 - Photos have been uploaded from the annual Garden Party last month

14 August 2014 - Best of luck today to Joan Zinn Collis (Athy Guild) in the Regional Finals of the Brown Bread Baking Competition in An Grian´┐Żn from all in Kildare Federation!

3 February 2014 - Lots of updates! New photos. New An Grianan Programme. The January news mailing.

12 November 2013 - The October news mailing is available to view here.

16 October 2013 - The Competitions section has been fully updated for the coming year! We have also created individual guild pages, see them here!

23 July 2013 - New Irish Pride competition posted in the Competitions section!

19 July 2013 - Best of luck to Mary O'Gorman (Maynooth Guild) who is representing Kildare in the Make and Model Competition Finals at An Grian´┐Żn today!

14 May 2013 - Photos and results have been uploaded from the competitions last weekend in Prosperous. Two new pages have been added to the site, Health and Activities.

27 April 2013 - Kildare Federation has booked Prosperous Hall for the following competitions on Sat 11th May, 1pm: Eleanora Gibbon Drama Final, Cup Cakes Competition, Make and Model Competition. Also, Kildare Week in An Grianán is coming up.

09 April 2013 - Photos from AGM 2013 have been uploaded. Also, a new email updates system has been set up. Please enter your email above so we can keep you up to date!

27 March 2013 - We have got the photo galleries working! Please click here to see them. We still have 20 more galleries to upload!

04 March 2013 - We have just launched our brand new website. There are still problems with the photo gallery pages and the individual guild pages, so please bear with us! There are LOTS of photos to upload!

04 March 2013 - Gempack competition deadline 8 March!