It’s the craze that has gripped seven –year-olds around the country, and now it seems Gerry Adams has been bitten by the loom bands bug.
The Sinn Fein leader was spotted wearing two loom bands when he appeared on the Six One News last night.
The brightly coloured rubber bracelets are made from a simple kit of rubber bands threaded together by hand.
Children from the age of seven upwards are making the bracelets, with the craze having taken off in recent weeks, and shops in the country selling out of the bags of bands. The bands are proving massive hits at communion parties, with groups of seven and eight year olds ignoring bouncy castles and leaving down game consoles in favour of making bracelets together.
The craze is the brainchild of Theresa McGuinness, an American woman living in Wexford who is importing the kits to Ireland from China. Her own children spent last summer in the States and she explains Loom Bands were a big thing in New York.
“I came back expecting it to hit here,” says Theresa, who previously worked for JP Morgan on Wall Street.
“But it didn’t. I was going into Smyths toy store and asking around and no one knew about them. I even watched the Late Late Toy Show thinking they would be on as the next big thing.”
Deciding to seize the opportunity, she set up the website loombands.ie and contacted a supplier in China and shipped a batchment in, with her children Harry (8) and Alexander (9) testing the samples.
“ I went to local schools and started doing workshops after classes. It was €3 to learn how to make a bracelet they take home, and then I sold kits for €7 in the school if people wanted to buy them.”
Within weeks local retailers in Wexford contacted Theresa looking to stock the bands, and since then demand has risen on a weekly basis, with 72 new orders coming in last Sunday alone.
Parents who normally can’t get kids off ninetendos and ipads share her enthusiasm for the bands, which she explains encourages dexterity, concentration, tenacity, patience co-ordination and imagination.
“The bands have proven even more popular with boys than girls.” A workshop in a local GAA club saw over 60 boys sitting down for an hour making bracelets in a group with Theresa. “They love the different colours and they can choose to make bracelets in the football teams colours,” says Theresa.
“As a mother I am not going to get involved in something I don’t believe in,” she says. “But these bands help kids socialise, teaches them to sit and concentrate and to work with their hands.”