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......Mairead Magee and the T.L.C.
Interview with Mairead Magee about the T.L.C.


Mairead, for those who don’t know  - what exactly is the TLC?

The initials T.L.C. stand for ‘Tender Loving Care.’

What do you do in the T.L.C?

At the end of 2008 Catherine McEvoy asked me to think about starting something in the Den, something which was creative and that would be for everybody. I then thought there were lots of people who knit! I then asked various people and charity shops for wool.

What type of things do you knit?

We decided to knit bonnets and blankets for premature babies. I rang the local hospitals – Lagan Valley Daisy Hill and Craigavon. Maternity units always need these as babies loose so much heat from the tops of their little heads. Then a midwife from Craigavon Hospital suggested we knit little layettes with pretty ribbons for still-born babies. She gave us a lovely pattern-like a hankie. The mothers naturally want to see their still-born baby and the little layette means that the mum can only see the little head as the body changes colour very badly. These are little babies 3-4 months into pregnancy.

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(Mairead showing us a photo of one of the little layettes for still born babies)

Following this we started to knit “teddies for tragedy”. These teddies would be placed in an ambulance so that children who need to travel in it would have a teddy as a wee comfort and then take it home with them. Adrian McGrath, a paramedic from Daisy Hill Hospital in Newry came to the Den and accepted them on behalf of the Ambulance Service.


What is your latest project?

Our Latest project is called ‘Roses from the Heart’. We make linen bonnets to commemorate convict women from Ireland who were arrested for as little as stealing bread and exiled to Australia. The artist Christina Henri has asked for 25,560 bonnets in memory of all convict women. To date she has 11,000. When we heard about it, we wrote to Christina and she sent us the names of a boatload of Irish women, their ages, crimes and sentence. There was not a country in the world that these women weren’t sent to. Each bonnet will bear the name of a convict, the name and address of the person who made the bonnet and a little emblem. It is really heartbreaking. We want them to be remembered and there will be a Blessing of the Bonnets ceremony held in Kilkeel in September.

What is your own role in TLC?

I’m the co-ordinator of the group. In the TLC there are no bosses -we feed off each other and we don’t have any rows! For example as co-ordinator I researched our latest project ‘Roses from the heart’ I came across this project in the library gave the group a leaflet about it and now we’re making the bonnets.

When is the TLC on?

It’s on every Tuesday from 10:30-12:30. There’s no membership fee but everyone puts a £1 in the kitty for the breakfast! (Bacon, tomatoes and toast for breakfast – scones!)

What do you enjoy about the TLC?

There are so many people who have come along - who have just heard of it through the word of mouth – even from outside the area. It’s great craic! Everyone’s doing something different, badges, teddies, etc. and everyone learning something new.

Do you sell any of the articles?

Yes, last year we held a Christmas Sale of Work and all money raised through that went to Sr. Bernadette Duffy and the displaced children in Plastic View Settlement, South Africa. That sale raised £3,230.00!

We also raise money for the Parish through Table Quizzes – to cover heating and lighting costs for the Den.

We’ve also sold school sweaters for primary schools, jackets, coats, handbags.

Any money donated for these items of knitwear goes to Sr. Bernadette.


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Do you do anything else on a Tuesday?

Yes, we also go on the laptops and look up the websites – this is great for those who don’t have laptops at home. We’re getting very with it!

How many members are there?

There are about 35 members and when they all come the room is full. 70% of the members have never been to anything like the TLC before and it’s also cross community!

It’s lovely to see them all and Catherine helps us so much with the laptops-and that camera!

Does the TLC help our own community as well as those who benefit from the proceeds?

The TLC helps the members of our own community. We all need to be needed! Some of the members wouldn’t have thought they would ever be selling items in our Christmas sales!

It was great to have the opportunity to interview Mairead. Mairead was previously a district nurse. Helping others is in her nature as she’s delivered thousands of babies. People are drawn to the TLC knowing that Mairead is ‘Tender, loving and caring.’ She’s great for sharing her talents as she’s also part of the art group. ‘You name it I’ll paint it.’ Mairead is also a member of the ‘Circle of Mercy’ a lay group of the Parish of about 8-10 members who meet once a month and their aim is so that their members will show kindness and mercy to those around them. ‘Sometimes the smallest of things make a big difference.’

We’re grateful for Mairead giving us her time. It was a real pleasure to speak to someone with such a key role in our parish.

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