Monday, January 04, 2021

Sisters Catherine and Patricia Horan at work in their home in Carlow Town making protective masks to prevent the spread of Covid 19 and the donations raised are donated to various charities. Photo:

A DECISION to make a few protective masks for charity in April has seen two Carlow sisters raise €20,000 for a host of good causes. The most remarkable Carlow charity fundraiser in 2020 recently presented its 20th €1,000 cheque to a charitable organisation.

Sisters Catherine and Tricia Horan of Cath & Co Handmade Crafts have been making thousands of masks for free in return for charitable donations.

Catherine Horan, a healthcare assistant, started in late April hoping to raise a few bob for the Irish Motor Neuron Association, but little did she know where the year would end – with 8,500 masks dispatched to all parts of Ireland.

She said: “I am just astounded. I cannot believe that such a small decision to make a few masks and raise some money for Motor Neuron has snowballed into all of this. I am completely blown away by this. Yes, we put a huge amount of hours into it, but we have got such good feedback and appreciation from the charities. It has really been worthwhile.”

The sisters don’t take a cent from the work despite the countless hours they have put in.

Cheques of €1,000 have gone to Relay For Life, Irish Motor Neuron Disease Association, the Alzheimer’s Society in Carlow, the Carers Association, Carlow Autism Support, Friends of Carlow District Hospital, Carlow Hospice, Cuan Mhuire in Athy, the Blood Bikers Leinster Group, Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind, Carlow Town First Responders, Carlow Regional Youth Services, Éist, Ballinkillen Community Centre, RehabCare Carlow, Carlow Meals on Wheels, St Lazerian’s Special NS, St Fiacc’s House and Carlow Order of Malta.

The 20th cheque went to the New Oak Community Centre, but it was not without its challenges.

At the start of November, Catherine contracted Covid-19. Thankfully, her experience of the virus was like a bad sinus infection, but it brought the mask-making to a halt.

“We had a stop on production for three weeks. We were only catching up then and we were trying to hit the 20,000 mark before we went down with it,” she recalled.

The sisters managed to clear the backlog before Christmas and are set to get back behind their sewing machines in January.

Catherine has enjoyed making the masks, meeting some wonderful people in the various charities and working alongside Tricia. They are a well-oiled machine and have learned lots from each other.

“It kept us going, even though we were flat to the mat. We had something to do during all of this, something to get up for in the morning and stay going.”

Catherine is looking forward to a point in 2021 when she will not have to sit down at the machine to make a mask.

“It’s for all the right reasons; it would be great if we didn’t have to wear these things and things improved. As we all know at the minute, though, things are drastically bad.”

Indeed, the reality of Covid is never too far away. Catherine had hoped that her daughter Amy, son-in-law and grandchildren would come over from the UK for Christmas, but the travel ban has scuppered that.

Still, Catherine was delighted to have been able to do something that has touched the lives of so many.

“The year that’s been … it has been crazy. We have been able to do something really, really good in the crazy time of it. We are so proud of it.”

Catherine thanked her daughter Emma Murphy and fiancé Liam Murphy for their help, along with brother and sister-in-law Jim and Rose Horan and friends Tommy and Maureen Murphy. Maria Bove Audoire and Printmania in Graiguecullen have also been of great assistance.

People can place orders through the Cath & Co handmade crafts page on Facebook.



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