To all our readers, columnists, advertisers, contributors and the shops who sell the newsletter free of charge. May the coming year bring you all you desire.
Best wishes also to all our exiles who read the news from Athea on-line. Wishing you all the peace and joy of Christmas and best wishes for the New Year.
The first publication of the New Year will be on Wednesday, January 6th.
Athea Parish Journal
Athea Parish Journal is currently on sale in Brouder’s & Collins’ shops, Athea and in Moloney’s, Carrigkerry and Mullane’s shop in Knockdown.
A reminder to collect your used stamps again this year. You can drop the stamps in to the office here for collection at any time.
Athea & District Credit Union
Open on Tuesday, December 22nd from 6.30-8.30. Wednesday, December 23rd 6.30-8.30.
Closed for the holidays
Re-opens on Tuesday, January 5th at 6.30. Wishing all our members a very Happy Christmas and best wishes for the New Year.
Going Home for Christmas
I was listening to a song on the radio the other day called “Driving home for Christmas” and it brought me back to the middle of the last century when going home for Christmas was a big event for most Irish emigrants, especially those in the UK. At that time, not long after the war, there were hundreds of people from this parish scattered all over England, Scotland and Wales. Families of 10 and 12 was the norm then and there was no employment so whole families sometimes had to emigrate. Some never again returned while others looked forward to the yearly trip home to see the parents and all the friends. I spoke to a man from Dirreen once in Manchester who told me he had never been home in 11 years. It wasn’t that he didn’t want to, quite the opposite, he was afraid that if he ever did come home he wouldn’t be able to leave again. We can only imagine the loneliness he experienced each year away from all he held dear not to mention how his parents felt.
Those who did want to travel started making plans after the end of the summer. Some gave up the drink altogether for the couple of months leading up to Christmas saving quite a bit of money in the process. Others, who weren’t so thrifty, borrowed the money, usually from the landlord of their local boozer and spent the rest of the year after going back repaying the debt. It didn’t matter how the money was obtained as long as they arrived in Ireland with pockets full of cash to make a big impression on the locals who, at that time, didn’t have a whole pile to spend.
Before we emigrated ourselves we used to look forward to the “invasion” from England with mixed feelings. We envied them the fine clothes and the money in their pockets. In those days we had two types of clothes, one set for working and the “good” clothes for going to Mass and special occasions. A collar and tie always accompanied the good clothes. The boys from England had all the modern gear, the skinny trousers, the “winkle picker” shoes (shoes with long toes that came to a point), the cut back collars and the skinny ties. They also had the latest hairstyles like the “Tony Curtis” (that was the one with the waves at the front and the ducks arse at the back) while we had the usual short back and sides and dressed in worn suits that were limited to two basic colours, navy blue and bird’s eye brown. We also had a job hanging onto our girlfriends while they were around. A fellow home from England, who wouldn’t merit a second look in Kilburn Town, Mosley or Moss Side, could make a great impression on the dance floor at home and easily turn the heads of the local girls. It came to blows on more than one occasion but nothing serious was allowed to develop and we got the girls back again when they went back after the holidays. On another level we were very happy to see them and listen to all the tales of how good things were across the water. They also had something we didn’t have in those days; transport. On arrival in Ireland they would hire a “self drive” car. Our old bikes were left in the shed for the duration as we piled into the cars to go to dances and wren nights near and far. There were also plenty of parties with lashings of booze and we generally had a great time while they were around. Eventually it came to our turn to take the cattle boat from Dunlaoghaire to Holyhead and we became the ones “going home for Christmas”. The feeling when that train pulled up at the station in Abbeyfeale was something to be experienced.
Domhnall de Barra