Lisnaskea Celebrations

Posted June 10, 2014 by Erne in Local Areas

The members of Lisnaskea W.I. celebrated their 70th birthday recently  with a fun evening and a delicious dinner at the local Water Mill restaurant.  President Hazel McDonald welcomed our Federation Chairman, Mrs Margaret Collinson and the members to this special event.  Mrs Collinson cut the birthday cake which everyone enjoyed after the meal whilst Katherine Little sang some songs.

Mrs Paddy Leeman related the story of W.I., how it all began in Stoney Creek, Canada when Miss Adelaide Hoodless and a Mr. Erland Lee in 1897 began a programme for the farmers’ wives which was affiliated to the Farmer’s Institute of Canada.  The first branch of the W.I.  in Northern Ireland  was Garvagh  in 1932 and the Federation was founded in 1942 by Miss Dorothea McCausland.  From these humble beginnings began one of the largest women’s organisations in the province.

Lisnaskea’s first meeting was held in the Market House in June 1944.  Mrs Agnew served as President, Miss Ball, Secretary, Miss Padget, Treasurer, Miss Law was the Press Correspondent and looked after the Magazines, Mrs Kells was selected as the delegate to attend the Council Meetings in Belfast, also serving on that first committee were Mesdames Connolly, Cromie, Todd, Tisdall, Graham, Farrell and Miss Dick.  In those first years membership was good with 59 members enrolled and during the first year the members were instrumental in achieving the formation of a District Nursing Association when a Queen’s Nurse was appointed to Lisnaskea.  The group was also active in lobbying for bus shelters in 1944, the Disposal scheme in 1954 and requested Post Boxes in 1959.  At each meeting a gift table was organised when one penny from each shilling of items sold was donated to the fund which     supported  the District Nurse.  In 1960 a specially constructed wooden case was presented to Lisnaskea W.I. by the English Sewing Cotton Company in which to store the crockery.

The branch members are proud of their fellow member Mrs Betty Birney who during her term  of office as Federation Chairman 2006 – 2009 organised the extremely successful 75th Anniversary Celebrations held at Castlecoole.  They are also very proud of their many successes in The Erne Area Bowls, Quiz, Golf and Drama competitions.  A past member of Lisnaskea, Mrs Angela Jardine donated the Angela Jardine Silver Salver which is presented annually to the winners of the Erne Area Quiz and the Erne Area bowlers compete annually for the Betty Birney Bowls Trophy.

The members, although slightly lower in numbers, still enjoy the monthly meetings, supporting local charities and other local organisations.  Mrs Leeman finished by saying how she has felt honoured to be the Erne Area Executive Member and passed on her best wishes to her fellow members in the future and to the Brookeborough, Enniskillen and Tamlaght branches on their 70th Anniversaries.

Mrs Edna Wigham proposed a toast to the Federation, to which Mrs Collinson kindly replied.

The talented Mrs Betty McCabe entertained everyone present with her stories, Betty has a special gift which makes everyone enjoy her company.  A really exceptional evening  to mark Lisnaskea’s  grand 70th Birthday Party.

To finish everyone sang the Lisnaskea W.I. Song, composed by a past member and President, Mrs Sadie Gillespie and sung to the tune of the Percy French song “The Garden where the Praeties grow”.

Have you ever been an office bearer in the W.I.?

Well if you haven’t it’s time my girl, I think you had a try.

The job itself is wonderful, I’m sure you’ll find it grand,

When you’re standing at the table, like the leader of the band.


Sure she’s just the kind of leader girls that we did all intend

To serve us true and faithfully until the very end.

But if the truth you want to hear I’ll state a simple fact

Sure I’d rather sit in comfort girls, and heckle from the back.


The President is happy and the reason’s plain to see

Sure there’s nothing to her job at all, but drinkin’ drops o’ tea.

For her there is the china gay – We only have a cup.

And she never has to worry about the ‘Washin’ up.


The Secretary’s life is grand, she’s never off the ‘phone.

She’s always going places, and she never goes alone.

But if you think of ‘speeching’, don’t leap before you look,

For your words will be immortal in her little Minute Book.


The Treasurer is lucky too, her life is free from care,

For she is always confident that each will pay her share.

And if her yearly balance is not as she would wish,

Sure she just goes round the members with her Wee White Dish.




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