Irene Murphy

Irene Murphy
Irene Murphy

FAIRFIELD — Fairfield resident Irene Murphy has a big heart, and that has been on full display this year during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Murphy has sewn 720 masks, which have gone to places such as the Jefferson County Health Center, Jefferson County Public Health, Maharishi International University and many businesses and individuals.

In the early days of the pandemic, Murphy’s masks were “flying out the window,” because she was getting so many requests from Facebook friends and old high school chums.

Most of the masks she made in the first part of the pandemic went to the health center. She kept making them day after day because she wanted to ensure the health center had enough. At age 72, Murphy is taking the virus seriously, seldom leaving the house because she doesn’t want to take any chances.

She’s been able to find purpose helping others through mask-making.

“The sad part of this virus is the way it’s changed social interactions,” Murphy said. “We don’t go to restaurants like we used to, and don’t hang out with friends.”

Murphy began sewing at age 12 to make her own clothes. She was following in the footsteps of her dad’s philosophy that when something breaks, you fix it or make a new one. After retiring from her career as a nurse, Murphy turned to her sewing machine as a source of income. She sewed uniforms for Maharishi School, where her children (David, Ed and Darla) attended, and helped create costumes for the school’s theatrical productions.

Murphy’s mask-making has slowed in recent months as they have become widely available in stores. Murphy hopes to fill more of her free time painting.

“I want to get back to that,” she said. “It’s not good to just sit around and do nothing, and Facebook tends to be depressing.”