by Domhnall de Barra  (while Pat is recovering)



Election of President


As each day passes more and more candidates are putting their names forward for the position of Uachtarán na hÉireann as we come to the close of Mary McAleese’s second term in office. They may not all get enough support to be in the election but there is a great diversity of characters in the race.  The main political parties have yet to put forward their chosen candidates and no doubt whoever they choose  will be strongly supported but the question has to be asked; should  politicians, of any persuasion, be allowed to run for this high office?.  It should not be a reward for service to the party or a final gig for a retiring minister. We have had enough of those before and it can be argued that the presidency did not  reach maturity until the election of Mary Robinson who transformed that office during her tenure. She was a hard act to follow but her successor, Mary McAleese brought the position to new heights. She has been magnificent in the way she has represented this country for the past fourteen years. With the aid of her husband Martin she has done what she promised to do; build bridges. She has been to the forefront in creating good relations between the two jurisdictions on this island and with our neighbour the UK culminating in the recent visit of Queen Elizabeth. Who could not have been proud of our president during that visit?  She also opened up the Áras to ordinary citizens. I was a guest myself when she honoured members of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann a couple of years ago. She spoke to me at length and I was surprised at the vast knowledge and appreciation she had of Irish culture. She was charming, witty and made everyone feel at home.

The reason I am writing about Mary McAleese is due to the fact that  somebody recently asked the question; why can’t we change the constitution so that she  could serve a third term in office. I for one would love to see this happen and I am throwing out the idea to you all to see how you feel about it. Of course there is another scenario that would keep her in the Áras, nominate her husband Martin. He would make an excellent president with all the experience he has gained and Mary would always be on hand  to help out. Think about it and let us know what you think.



I was delighted to see the swallows returning this year. I had been worried as they were a bit late arriving but eventually they announced their coming with a display of aerial acrobatics and loud chirping. How do they come back to the same location each year having flown all the way from Africa?  We would get lost beyond Limerick without a Sat Nav. They are very busy at the moment building their nests and creating a home for the next generation.  Watching them going about their nest building reminded me of an incident that happened some years ago. My late father-in-law, Jack Hannon, had a shed onto the house in Kingsland and the rafters made a great nesting place for the swallows. Eventually the chicks hatched out and were doing fine until one of them fell out of the nest and got killed in the fall to the concrete floor. Jack was very sad at this misfortune and decided to help the others in the nest to get safely to the floor. He got a long lath and placed one end near the nest and the other end on the floor so that the chicks could walk down the slope and get to the ground unharmed. He went to bed happy and looked forward to seeing the young ones flying away the following day. Unfortunately, that night Jack’s cat walked up the lath and ate all the chicks in the nest! So much for helping nature.


Staying Positive

The last couple of weeks were good ones for our country. The visits of Queen Elizabeth II and The President of the USA showed us to the world in a very positive light and lifted our morale. It was also a huge boost for our tourism industry which was always one of our mainstays but has been lagging behind in the past few years, mainly due to the “rip-off” ideology of some of those involved in the industry. We really priced ourselves out of the market and when there was a downturn in the world economy holidaymakers were looking for value for money. At long last prices in hotels have come down to such an extent that we are able to compete with other countries and this will help in no small way to boost our economy. We have a very beautiful country and our hospitality is famed the world over. We can capitalize on this and create much needed employment in the service industry. Think positive and  get away from the doom and gloom.

In the same way we can look at our own community and take pride in what we have achieved over the years.  Since I was a boy, many years ago there have been a lot of changes. Many shops have closed and some of the traditional skills have disappeared but we have grown in other ways. Our two major sporting organizations, Athea Utd. and Athea G.A.A. have two new state of the art pitches, there is a new community hall, footbridge over the river, new school, doctor’s and vet’s surgeries, chemist, printing works and we have our own Credit Union and have managed to keep our Post Office. The village area has also seen much improvement through the Community Council FAS Schemes with stone walls, footpaths and townland signs being built and trees planted throughout. Not bad going for a small village at a time when other similar communities don’t even have one shop open. So let us feel good about ourselves for a change and remember that our future is in our own hands. We should buy local as far as possible and support local industry.



The Leaving cert and Junior cert examinations are upon our students and we wish them well in their chosen papers. It is a very trying time for all concerned  so please give them all the help and understanding they need  as, for some, these couple of weeks will decide the direction their lives will take in the future. Not everyone will get the points they need but  it isn’t the end of the world. There is something out there for everybody.