by Pat Brosnan

Restoring Athea’s Blessed Well

It was great news to hear last week about the restoration work that is being carried out by the Community Council on the Blessed Well in Templeathea. There is no doubt that it was certainly in need of an overhaul as its condition had deteriorated considerably in more recent years. It was in 1914 that the Shrine was officially blessed and opened on August 15th the Feast of The Assumption of that year. No doubt people had been visiting and praying at The Holy Well long before that time. There would be few people still alive throughout West Limerick who was there at the time.

There was a lot of turmoil in this country during the second decade of the 20th century around the time that the Blessed Well was officially opened. The First World War had broken out earlier that year and tens of thousands of Irishmen had joined The British Army and were sent out fighting to the front, many of whom never returned. Lord Kitchener, who was a native of North Kerry, was one of the chief recruitment officers for the British Army in Ireland and he was ably assisted in his campaign by John Redmond, who was the Leader of the so-called Nationalist Party, who had been striving to achieve some form of Home Rule during the previous years. At the time there was a great deal of unrest at home, during the previous year in 1913 the legendary Labour Leader  Jim Larkin led workers in Dublin into an all out strike which continued until the civil authorities and pro-British employers throughout the city starved them into returning to work. Out of this confrontation the future Citizens Army came to be instituted which James Connolly marshalled and led during the 1916 Rising. In 1914 too and the following years there was a grave threat that conscription would be imposed and that the young able-bodied men of Ireland would be compulsorily recruited into The British Army. However, the people of the country resisted the threat to such an extent that it was finally dropped. It was in the midst of all this that the Blessed Well in Templeathea drew a constant stream of worshippers each year and ever since seeking cures for their ailments, physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual, in its healing waters. There is many a story which some of us have heard since coming to live in Athea about favours that have been granted through the intersession of the Patrons of The Blessed Well and it would be nice to see this kind of faith continue into the future when the Shrine will have been reconstructed.

The Well and its surroundings is a beautiful and peaceful place of which Athea parish might well be proud and which is often remarked upon by people who visit this lovely little shrine from many distant places around the country and even further afield. What could be nicer than going to say a few prayers there or recite a rosary on a quiet evening in May and listen to the cuckoo’s call or hear the songbirds singing their sweet notes during their nesting time. Mary R.I.P. and myself had the privilege on a number of occasions in different years of cleaning up and tidying the surroundings of the well and painting the Statues, their bases and the surrounding walls. On one occasion, when we drained out the well to its full depth in order to give it a thorough cleaning, we found around a dozen cups and mugs which had fallen into the water over a course of time and were resting at the bottom. We brought all the delph home, gave it a good washing and rinsing and then returned it all back to the usual place beside the well. Mary always had a great devotion to The Blessed Well and always made sure each year that she would visit there 3 times during May and when visitors from outside areas or from abroad would visit us she would often suggest to them to come and see the Blessed Well.

It is hoped that when the restoration job is completed that there will be a big revival of people visiting the Well again and not alone the local people, but many from outside the parish as well. This should be encouraged by all concerned as much as possible. In the meantime, it is hoped that when the job is completed it will be a credit to the workers and the Community Council for their efforts and generosity.


Remembering 9/11

It is difficult to imagine that 10 years have gone by since that fate filled morning of September 11 2001 when New York and the much wider world was plunged into utter confusion  and unforeseen horror as the Towers of the World Trade Centre were struck by 2 aircraft carrying hundreds of unsuspecting crews and passengers and guided by crazed terrorists to their ultimate target which was the destruction of New York’s Twin Towers and regardless of the thousands of innocent people who would be killed in the attacks. That those who went on to hi-jack and commandeer the aeroplanes for this horrific purpose, it is quite obvious that they had complete disregard for their own lives and the lives of all the others who were likely to be killed because of their insane actions. It is quite evident that suicide bombers and people such as those who flew the planes into the Towers and the other targets had no ordinary human feelings and any casual statements by statesmen or politicians from any country that such people would be found and brought to justice is so much hot air. How would such people be brought to justice when they have already blown themselves up? Year after year some of the NATO countries are regularly interfering in the internal affairs of other countries, the latest of these being Libya where so many innocent lives have been lost.

And then these nations of the so-called Western Alliance often seem to wonder why they have built up so much resentment around the world. This resentment can sometimes reach a climax that can even sometimes result in a tragedy such as 9/11 in New York or the tube station bombs in London.  These atrocities, of course, should not be happening, but unfortunately we are not living in an ideal world and the fury of neglected or outraged peoples means that these awful tragedies have now become a fact of life.

On this the 10th Anniversary of 9/11 much of the trauma and grief will be sadly remembered by the families and relatives of those who died but the bravery of those who put themselves at risk in their attempts to attend the dying or rescue those who were injured will also be remembered with love and gratitude.

A Great Hurling Final

The 81 thousand spectators who attended the All-Ireland Hurling final must have felt that they all got great satisfaction in making the trip to Croke Park irrespective of whether they were on the winning or losing side. Even though there were heavy showers early on, this was a superb game of hurling played with grim passion and determination by both teams until the final whistle.

While it is beyond question that Kilkenny were the better team over the 70 minutes the outcome was in doubt right up to the finish with a gallant Tipperary battling away to the last. It was a grand moment for Manager Brian Cody and the other Brian, the Captain, Brian Hayes. There was also the unusual incident of the referee, who was an Offaly man, Brian Gavin, getting injured when he got an accidental crack of the tip of a hurley into the nose which left him bleeding and needing attention but thankfully he was able to continue with the game. One thing that this All-Ireland proved , if proof was needed, the Cats are difficult to beat when the chips are down that is why they are the leading hurling county and last year’s defeat in the final seems to have spurred them on to greater efforts. Old Moore’s Almanac predicted their win in the final this year, but it also tipped Cork to win in the football which of course did not happen. But at least the Almamac’s GAA predictions were 50% right.


Other Weekend Games

After a very promising first half of play by the Limerick Ladies Intermediate Team against West Meath in the semi-final on Saturday it was disappointing to see them lose the momentum during the second half and concede defeat. two local Athea girls on the team Shauna McAuliffe and Carla Sheehy both played very well. The Kerry senior Ladies Team were also heavily defeated by Monaghan. At one stage in the second half it looked as if they were going to stage a comeback when they even went a point ahead, but after this they faded out and were well beaten in the end.


Flights back in Farranfore

It was rather disappointing for air passengers, who regularly use the Kerry Airport to Dublin flights, when Ryanair declared their intention to pull the plug on the daily service. Now, however, there was better news last week when it was learned that Aer Arann has agreed to run two return flights a day between Kerry Airport and Dublin. This should also benefit the tourist trade in Kerry and perhaps even to a lesser extent in West Limerick. It also proves that the Ryan Air Company is not entirely indispensable and can be done without if their terms and conditions become too demanding.