Congratulations to Peg Woulfe, Gortnagross who celebrated her 80th birthday recently at the Devon Inn Hotel, Templeglantine with her family.

Peg Woulfe, Gortnagross pictured with her husband Dick, daughters Eilish and Cathy and son Tommy on the occasion of her 80th birthday which she celebrated recently at the Devon Inn Hotel, Templeglantine

Athea Parent & Toddler Group

Athea Baby and Toddler Group has recently re-launched their group in an effort to encourage more mother and toddlers to join. The group meet at Con Colbert Hall, Athea on Friday Mornings from 12.00-2pm, an ideal place to meet other local mums/carers of young children.  There are lots of toys to play with and various activities for the children in a relaxed informal atmosphere. The cost is €3 per family. For further details please contact Ciara Scanlon on 085 1342568

St. Vincent de Paul Ballybunion Holiday

The St. Vincent de Paul society are organising a one week stay in Ballybunion from June 15th to 23rd this year. For more details on this please contact 087-6216255

Darkness Into Light

This year’s walk/run takes place in Newcastle West on Saturday, May 6th at 4 am, starting at The Desmond Complex (new venue) Gortboy.

What does the future hold? 

I wrote lately about all the changes that have taken place since I was a young lad at school. We came from the arrival of the first, primitive machinery to where technology has advanced so much that we can now receive images from space crafts that are probing the outer edges of the universe, millions of miles away. Traditional ways of doing things and the jobs they created are disappearing, if not already gone. There are whole floors in car-making factories where there are no humans working, especially on  assembly lines. All the work is done by robots who, apparently, are far more efficient and less likely to make a mistake than we are. Plans are well advanced to have robots doing operations on people in hospitals. I wonder where it all will end.  Suppose these robots start to think for themselves and decide to take over? Maybe it isn’t all that far fetched. One scientist has put a chip into a rat’s brain and produced an extremely intelligent animal capable of understanding language and working out difficult problems. Anything is possible.

What of our own prospects here in Athea?  If we look at the trend over the past decades, the outlook is not good. Look at what happened in England. Small towns and villages in rural England have ceased to exist as commercial outlets. Where once there was the High Street with all its shops; butchers, bakers, grocers, hardware merchants etc., they are now places where people sleep. There are no petrol stations, post offices or any of the other services we take for granted. There may be one convenience store that will supply necessary household items but they are not used for the weekly shop which will be done in the nearest big town with all its super markets.

Outside these towns the countryside has been decimated. Where once families ran small farms and were able to make a living on them, there are now just a few big concerns that deal with hundreds of cows or thousands of acres of tillage. Very few people work on these as most of the work is done by machinery. The same thing is happening slowly here. When I was growing up there were several farms of less than twenty cows that made a living. As time went on the smaller ones went by the wayside and soon you needed at least forty cows. That figure has now more than doubled and many farmers have got out of dairy cows altogether. Ballaugh is just across the river from my house. At one time I could look over at ten separate herds of cattle grazing outside in the summer months. Now there is only one herd in all that stretch of territory. This area is not unique and is replicated all over rural Ireland. Villages like Mountcollins and Tournafulla were once thriving business communities that catered for all needs. Now they are bereft of services with not even one shop between them. A bus now calls to the area to bring people who have no transport of their own to Abbeyfeale or Newcastle West to do their shopping.

It would be foolish to bury our heads in the sand, ignore these signs  and say it couldn’t happen in Athea. Not only could it happen but it is going to happen if we do not take steps to ensure it does not. Look at the evidence; we had 16 or 20 shops of all varieties in the village at one time not so long ago. There were 11 pubs just a few years ago and there were five service stations, four in the village and one in the parish. The creamery has gone with a while. Now we don’t have any  filling stations  even though there are now hundreds more cars nowadays, we have six pubs and the number of shops is down to two. We are lucky to have that many but the signs are not good. Our Post Office is under serious threat at the moment. If some people in high places get their way it will be gone. The rot started a couple of years ago when the letter-sorting was moved to Newcastle West.  Some of the pubs are also in danger and it is easy to visualise a time when we will be lucky if we are left with one big outlet to cater for the community. We are lucky to have the doctors surgery in Athea. This has given us the chemist’s shop as well and these bring business to the village. We can reverse the trend if we really want to keep our services.

At the foot of the front page of this newsletter we print “SUPPORT LOCAL ENTERPRIZE” every week. If we want to keep them then we need to support them. You will never miss the water ‘til the well runs dry. I remember one man telling me he would not buy his petrol in Athea because it was a penny a litre cheaper in Adare. That same man now has to travel at least six miles if he needs a gallon of petrol for his lawn mower. So, please use our local  facilities; shops, post offices, pubs, even our own printing works. If we have it in Athea – use it before it is too late. The future is in our own hands; let us make it a good one.

Domhnall de Barra


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Clodagh Prendeville with Aidan O’Mahony in Loughill last Sunday

Athea Tidy Towns

Team Limerick Clean up will go ahead Friday the 14th of April from 9.30am, all material needed to carry out the clean up will be available from the community centre, all people are asked to register at the community centre that morning.  Any rubbish collected must be dropped to the hall car park before 5pm on Friday.  For more information contact 087 9042477

Athea Parent & Toddler Group

Athea Baby and Toddler Group has recently relaunched their group in an effort to encourage more mother and toddlers to join. The group meet at Con Colbert Hall, Athea on Friday Mornings from 12.00-2pm, an ideal place to meet other local mums/carers of young children.  There are lots of toys to play with and various activities for the children in a relaxed informal atmosphere. The cost is €3 per family. For further details please contact Ciara Scanlon on 085 1342568

Church Gate Collection

A sincere thank you to all who so generously contributed to the recent Church gate collection for Crumlin Hospital. The amount raised was €1,100. Thank you all for your support.

Athea Children’s Drama

Will perform their Easter Show, Annie and The Nursery Rhyme Land on Thursday, April 20th in the Colbert Hall at 7.30pm. Admission €4 Children, €8 Adults. Your support would be greatly appreciated.

St. Vincent de Paul Ballybunion Holiday

The St. Vincent de Paul society are organising a one week stay in Ballybunion from June 15th to 23rd this year. For more details on this please contact 087-6216255

Common Sense

As time goes on I become more frustrated with all the new laws and the growth of “political correctness”. We can’t have any gender reference in any title anymore so things like “manhole” covers offend certain people. “Chairman” is definitely out as is “postman” and others like that. People are not black anymore, even though some are evidently so, just as others are white and all the colours in between. One would hope that the use of common sense would prevail in determining how far this new thinking goes but I’m afraid common sense is in short supply.

I thought it had got lost completely until a recent court case where a claim for damages was made on behalf of a child who fell while playing in a school playground. The judge, sensibly determined that children must be allowed to run around and play and that it was just an accident and nobody’s fault. I felt like cheering when I heard it because the courts have not always been so wise. Take the case of a woman who banged her knee off the leg of a hotel dining room table when she was pulling in her chair. She claimed the leg was concealed by a table cloth and therefore the hotel management were negligent. Anyone with an ounce of common sense would have dismissed the case out of hand. All tables have at least three legs and most of them have four. I have yet to discover a floating table that does not have legs. When sitting to a table is it not reasonable to assume that there are four legs, one on each corner?. The judge, in his wisdom (or lack of same), awarded the woman €20,000. Nice work if you can get it and now the floodgates are open for more claims.

There was a man from Cork, a few years ago, who made a living from falling over loose pavement stones and down open holes throughout Cork city. He successfully sued the city council on 17 occasions. With some of his ill-gotten  gains he went on a holiday to Europe. Berlin was on the tour and as he walked down the street one day he came upon an open trap door that was being used to deliver beer to a pub. He couldn’t resist the temptation and promptly “fell” down into the cellar. He was an expert at falling and feigning injury and after a spell in hospital with a back injury that was difficult to disprove, he put the wheels in motion to sue for damages. Some months later he travelled back to Germany for the case. The judge listened as the  solicitor outlined the happenings to him and after hearing both sides of the argument he said to the man from Cork “why are you not wearing your glasses”? To which he replied “I don’t wear glasses”.  “Why not”? Asked the judge. “Because my sight is perfect” came the answer. “In that case”, said the judge, “you should have been more than able to see such a big opening and have walked around it. Case dismissed”. We could do with a few judges like that over here.

Common sense is in short supply in the Dáil at the moment. The row over water charges has reached ridiculous proportions. Does anybody know how to tell the truth anymore?  Maybe Paul Murphy and his group of communists do. At least they believe in what they say even though they are totally misguided and following a type of politics that has failed all over the world. Sinn Féin are after the popular vote and can afford to say whatever they like because there is little prospect of them having to back up any promises in government. Fine Gael would like to do the right thing but are hampered by lack of numbers and their dependency on Fianna Fáil support to stay in office. Fianna Fáil are the real culprits here. They are putting the party before the country with an eye on the next election. At heart they are in favour of water charges. It was their idea in the first place but, having seen how much of a boost Sinn Féin got by opposing water charges, they have changed their minds and now want to curry favour with the other objectors. This is purely political. What happened at the committee meeting is a farce. We have an Attorney General that advises the government on matters of law yet some parties do not accept her ruling and bring forward “alternative” advice. Water will have to be paid for. There is no magic money tree in Leinster House so the tax payer, yes you and me, will have to pick up the bill as usual. What was wrong with the idea of giving a generous allowance to each household and only charging those who went above that allowance?  The “polluter pays” principle should apply and it is not right that I can now leave my tap running for 24 hours a day with impunity. Fine Gael made a proper botch of introducing the charges in the first place due mainly to the arrogance and bullying tactics of  Phil Hogan who should have been banished to obscurity, not rewarded with a plum job in Europe.

The sooner we realise that services have to be paid for the better. Let us have one household tax that includes the water charges, sewage and bin collections as they have in the North of Ireland and maybe we will finish up with some decent services and a cleaner and better country.

In the meantime, if any of you out there can find any examples of good common sense, let me know.

Domhnall de Barra 

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Sean Hanrahan, Colbert St. Athea (back left) who celebrated his 80th birthday recently along with family and relatives at The Devon Inn, Templeglantine. Sean pictured with his brother Timmy, nieces Edel & Frances and cousin Kathy Fitzgerald.

Three schoolfriends from the class of 1993 in Ballyhahill. Maura Hutchinson, Gemma King and Lisa Wallace with their young families in Knockdown on Sunday last.

Athea Bingo Committee

Would like to thank all those who contributed to their collection for the Lourdes Invalid Fund. The amount raised was €607. Thanks also to those who gave spot prizes.

Marie Keating Foundation

We (at O’Riordan’s Pharmacy) have asked the Marie Keating Foundation to Athea and they have agreed to bring their mobile unit on Friday 7th April between 11am and 3pm. The unit has a specialist nurse to provide information and answer any questions or worries that people may have about cancer. The service is free and no appointment is necessary. It would be great if we could get as many people to attend as possible.

Athea Tidy Towns Fundraising Fashion Show

Dedicated followers of fashion will be in for a real treat later this month as the Athea Tidy Towns Group hosts another fundraising fashion show to aid of their vital work in the village. A highlight of the social calendar in Athea in previous years, this year’s show has been set for Wednesday, April 12th at 8pm, with the Con Colbert Hall once again providing the perfect setting for the event. The show itself will showcase the latest trends (Men’s, Women’s and Children’s ) from all the top boutiques from West Limerick and North Kerry, and will be preceded by a cheese and wine reception. Judges will also be on the lookout for the best dressed lady on the night, with some lovely prizes up for grabs.

Tickets are now on sale at Brouder’s Shop and Collins’ Shop, Athea and are priced at just €10. This is our main fundraiser for the year and allows us to raise much needed funds to keep the village looking colourful throughout the summer period. All support greatly appreciated.9042477


Once again we thank you for your loyal support of Daffodil Day, joining us in our fight against cancer, total collected €985.40. Your gift will help to care for people with cancer at every stage in their illness with nurses delivering the highest standards of care to patients and their families, every day, all over Ireland – Free of Charge. The support they gave us was so appreciated., 95% of their funding is raised by those who donated to our collection last Friday here in our village. We are so grateful.

A Dying Art

Domhnall de Barra 

In days gone by there was a rambling house in every locality. This was the meeting place where people from the locality gathered at night to talk, play cards, sing songs, play music, dance  etc.  There was always a story teller or two in the company who had the knack of holding the audience spellbound with their delivery. Many of these stories were about the supernatural with ghosts and  appearances by the devil himself very prominent. After hearing these stories  we, as youngsters, made our way home in the dark afraid of our shadows. The slightest sound  chilled us to the bone and we ran the rest of the way at full speed eager to get to the safety of the light in the  kitchen.

Through the years I spent many hours in the darkness at night time and apart from two occasions I never saw or heard anything out of the ordinary. The first of these episodes took place when I was about 11 years of age. I was learning how to play the accordion from Liam Moloney of Devon Road. I use to cycle over the hill through Ballaugh on Saturday nights, a journey of about five miles usually in darkness during the winter months especially on the way home. One night I was cycling home without a light on the bike in the pitch darkness. I knew the road well and was doing fine until I reached the steep hill and had to come off the bike to walk. As I stepped on the road and stopped to catch my breath for a moment I heard  breathing over my left shoulder. It was very heavy and I was rooted to the spot with the hairs standing on the back of my neck.  After what seemed like an age I plucked up enough courage to turn my head and take a look. I could barely make out two big eyes staring at me and then, just before panic set in, the moon came out and I saw the outline of the head of an ass!   I felt the blood rushing to my body with relief and I left the poor ass to get on with his grazing on the “long acre”.  Nothing supernatural there but had the moon not made an appearance and I managed to get away, what kind of a story would I be telling?.

The second event happened some years later when I was often out late at night meeting girls!. It was about 2.30 am on a fairly bright  night when I had to dismount from the bike again coming up the height near home. As I dismounted, a woman dressed all in black jumped out over the ditch on my left hand side, said “good night Dannyboy”, crossed the road and jumped in over the other ditch. It all happened so fast that I had to pinch myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. It was quite a while before I could move and I kept asking myself where she was coming from at that time of night and what on earth she could be doing. The fact that she knew me and called me by my name meant that she was a local but I am sure she was flesh and bone and nobody from the “other side”

Those events made me as nervous as the story tellers of old did. Alas it is a dying profession and they are getting very scarce nowadays. We still have a couple in the area; Daisy Kearney and John Collins. Daisy is one of the Fitzgerald family from Knocknasna, a sister to the late Mary Browne and Nora Ita Hunt. She is now world famous after performing all, over the world with Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann tour groups.. She has a wealth of stories and recitations, many of them of local origin. She also has some that were made famous by the late Eamon Kelly on the radio.  John Collins is a farmer in Dromin beesm near Killoughteen in Newcastle West. His people came from across the river from me in Tullig. John, like Daisy, has toured extensively with Comhaltas and is a regular performer with the ‘Glantine Seisiún group that performs at the Devon Inn throughout the summer months. He also does a fine brush dance to jig time, one of the few who doesn’t do it to reels. We are lucky to have these two with us as, sadly, no young people in the area are carrying on the tradition. Comhaltas are trying to encourage story telling by adding a new competition to the Fleadhs. This might encourage more young people to do  a little research and learn a story or two. We don’t want it to be a dying art, especially in these days of social media where most communications are not done orally. I hope the competition takes off and we can once again enjoy the telling of stories old and new.

While I am at it I would also like to appeal to people to get involved in all types of writing; poetry, prose etc. Not long ago we had Dan Keane, Pat Brosnan, and Paddy Faley, all prolific with the pen. Alas they have all passed on, God be good to them, and, as yet, there are no replacements for them.

I would be open to any ideas of how we can encourage budding writers and composers so, if you have an idea, please contact me.  In the meantime watch how you go, especially late at night!

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