Donegal sewers getting together to make protective masks

Garment making heritage standing Donegal in good stead

Face masks

Donegal sewers getting together to make protective face masks

Necessity is indeed the mother of invention as Donegal's fantastic protective mask making, community sewers have demonstrated.


Neil McDaid (Glebe Renewables Heating and Plumbing) got in touch with Donegal Live to tell us how proud he was of his wife, Marjorie, and her fellow sewers.


Speaking to Donegal Live, the woman behind the Inishowen-wide  'network' of stitchers, Marjorie McDaid, owner of MMD Embroidery in Clonmany, said there were now more than 40 people making free masks for health workers and social carers throughout the North West.


It all started when Marjorie's friend sent her a link on how to sew a mask. When the coronavirus lockdown began and her business shut, Marjorie thought she could put the material she had in stock to “good use.”


She added: “So, I started to make masks, for free, for anyone who wanted them.


“I was putting them up on my Facebook page and I started to get 'orders' and I thought, 'Oh my goodness, how can I fulfil all this?' I decided then to put a message on my page asking for help. I knew  there are many sewers and crafters out there because I got to know a lot of them at  the local markets and Christmas markets.


“I know a lot of sewers because I used to work in JD's when I was younger and Fruit of the Loom and I know a lot of people who have sewing machines in their homes. And, sure enough, the local community, being as good as they are, came on board.


“And then another day, Georgie from First Class Blinds, rang me and said they were willing to help. Like every other business in Ireland, everything had stopped for him. So, he got sewers on board, in Derry, Muff and Redcastle,” said Marjorie.


The community protective mask making took off from there. In fact, Marjorie said she was “overwhelmed” with texts and messages on Facebook.


With messages pinging about, Marjorie decided to set up a WhatsApp group, in case she missed anyone wanting to get in touch with offers of sewing.


She added: “There are more than 40 members in the group now and we use WhatsApp to keep in touch and share information. All over Inishowen people are sewing, cutting, getting donations of material and elastic.


“I have just counted this morning [Tuesday] how many orders have gone out the door so far and there are 535. Most of them are going to the health services, nurses, homecare workers, even funeral homes, definitely St Conal's Hospital, they are looking for 100, and 100 are away this morning to a centre in Ballykelly.


“The masks are going to a lot of nurses locally. We have sent them down to all the medical places around and St Colunbcille Village in Clonmany. Eddie Harkin and the sewers in Buncrana have been sending the masks to the nursing homes there. At the start we were coming across social care workers who were getting frustrated at the lack of masks. Now we have a great crowd of people making them.


“Naturally, we don't want too many people out at the minute delivering the masks. We just take our ID. So, George Saddler is doing any deliveries in his area and Letterkenny.  There is just one person on the road at any time,” said Marjorie.


An innovative drop off and delivery system has also developed in Carndonagh.


Marjorie revealed: “We have a wee drop off point outside my cousin's wife's house. We have a wee basket outside her house and the Carndonagh sewers drop off their finished masks and pick up their supplies of material and elastic when they are on their way to the shop.


“I think it is amazing the way everyone has come together. I think it is also taking our minds off what's going on around us. We are focussing on helping everyone in need and being very positive about the whole thing. We also have a wee bit of craic while we are sewing and we are sticking up wee videos online. It is a great  community and deserves a big bualadh bos.


“Some of carers and nurses said can't thank us enough. They had nothing and now they feel better going out to work to have something on at all. We are innundated with messages of thanks.


“I even have a wee  collection bin outside my door, complete with gloves and wipes, were local people can come a get packaged protective masks for their families. I'm getting plenty of thumbs  ups in the window. If anyone needs masks, please feel free to contact me through the MMD Embroidery Facebook page,” said Marjorie.




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