Two historian legends in conversation about the industrial past of Kilbeggan, ahead of the Caring for Repairing in the town on November 3-6 – Ruth Illingworth (left) and Kitty Flynn, who at 97 years of age is still as sharp as a pin (image and text from the Repair Acts Instagram page).

Free repairing exhibition in Kilbeggan this weekend

‘Caring for Repairing’, a free four-day art exhibition, takes place across several venues in Kilbeggan on November 3-6.

Curated by Repair Acts lead artist, Teresa Dillon, in collaboration with Dr Alma Clavin as part of Repair Acts, Ireland, the exhibition features the première of ‘Turning the Collar’, a documentary on professional repair practices in Westmeath.

Care and maintenance form the backbone of the exhibition and the work is set out in a storyline from the 1930s.

A number of the new artworks document repair practices and speculate on future, artificial and machine-based repair. Textile works created from scraps left over from hot air balloon manufacturing have been transformed into a series of flags and a large-scale tapestry, which will be on display at St James’s Hall, Kilbeggan Community Hub and Main Street.

The exhibition design and build are a collaboration with the architect Ana Filipovic and Mullingar Men’s Shed.

Free mending and repair workshops highlights include O’Dwyer’s Stone Masonry dry-stone wall and repair sessions, visual artist Linda Harrington’s Irish lace workshops, Jiminy’s toy Repair Café and Pocket Forest demonstrations.

Walking tours with historian Ruth Illingworth will reflect on the rich industrial past of the town; and the Native Woodland Trust will host a walk and talk about their restoration of the ancient forest, Ardan Wood.

Guest speakers include Jane Ní Dhulchaointigh, inventor of Sugru, plus performances from David Kitt, TokTek, Manchán Magan and Neil Moran.


Established in 2022 Repair Acts Ireland is one of 16 projects funded by Creative Ireland through its Creative Climate Action fund, the purpose of which is to support creative, cultural and artistic projects that build awareness around climate change and empower citizens to make meaningful change.

Repair Acts Ireland is led by Kilbeggan natives, artist, researcher and Professor of City Futures Teresa Dillon (School of Art and Design, University of the West of England/UWE), and geographer Dr Alma Clavin (University College Dublin), who lives in the town.

The project is supported by Westmeath County Council and the Public Participation Network (PPN).

It stems from Repair Acts international, which is an ongoing art-based research programme established by Prof Dillon at the University of the West of England, in 2018.

Teresa Dillon said: “As Westmeath and Kilbeggan natives, it’s been really great to work so deeply within our home communities. Over the last 10 months, we have worked with hundreds of people and organisations, listening to their stories and views on repair and created a documentary, ‘Turning the Collar’, which explores professional repair practices in Westmeath.

“This journey draws on our place-based approach to making art and research and is grounded in our deep interest in how we can collectively discuss and understand the repairability of our material worlds, today and in the future.”

Alma Clavin said: “We have found from our archival research that access to repair businesses in towns and villages in Westmeath has decreased and the breadth and diversity of repair business and practices have also decreased.

“Our team examined more than 1500 repair businesses and practices that were active since the early 20th century and we have identified a clear transition from repair being part of everyday life, to something that is only done occasionally.

“This has implications, not just for the waste that enters landfill and incinerators but also for how people use our towns and villages.”

Teresa added: “What we mean by repair cultures is how we mend, fix, care for and maintain objects. It covers the history, economies, craft, practices and processes of how we mend items, and we are really interested in connecting the past, present and future stories around these topics. We are always, fixing, repairing and maintaining objects is essential, even vital to everyday life. We would love for you to share your story with us about what you repaired and how you did it.”


Help build the ‘People’s Archive of Everyday Repair by adding your story at @RepairActs @RepairActs

• All events are free; the full programme is at