by Domhnall de Barra (while Pat is recovering)

Just the other day I was walking up the village and as I passed each building I realised how many businesses have closed in a short portion of the street in a relatively short time. When I came to the village as a young man you could do a lot of business from Collins’ shop and pub up to the Moyvane road.  Liston’s (Tommy Willie’s) was an old fashioned  public house on the corner of the lane. It has long since closed down. Next door was Irwin’s, later to become Brownie’s, a pub noted for the quality of it’s pint and a great place for a session or a sing-song. Ita was quite a character and there are many good yarns still told about her. I remember going into the pub with a couple of friends from Knocknaboul (we were in our late teens) and asking Ita for three bottles of stout. She put the bottles on the counter and turned away. After a while I asked her for glasses to which she replied “God blast ye, ‘twas far away from glasses ye were reared”. That put us in our place alright!  Just along the street was Mick Lynch’s Pub. Mick had come from Chicago and was great company. He usually had music at the weekends. The Post Office was next, run by Edsie and Peg O’Connor. In those days all the telephone calls went through this exchange during the day but at night they would be switched to Listowel at 10 pm. If you happened to be on the phone at that time the line just went dead. Next door, Mick Moran had a butcher’s shop. He did his butchering out the back and did a good trade. He wouldn’t be allowed to do it now. Stapleton’s was next. They did groceries in a small way but their main business was a newsagency. It used to be packed after Mass on  Sundays.  Danaher’s was next. This was a fine shop with a big yard mainly for meal and flour. Paddy Quaid used to drive a big Nuffield tractor and trailer to Cork every week for the bags of meal and flour. It was quite a journey in those days and he brought a big load with him. At the top of the village we had the Creamery. This was a hive of activity in the mornings with horses and donkeys drawing carts with milk tanks queuing up down the village. It was the lifeblood of the place as the farmers coming to the creamery would do business in the local shops. Some of them were even prone to take a pint or two before departing for home. The creamery was also a great meeting place where the news of the parish, deaths, births, marriages, football matches etc. were discussed and the world put to rights! Mick Dalton and Patie Sullivan were in the “front line” and there would be great banter with some very witty retorts.

What a change in this small part of the village. From Collins’ up to the top, on the right hand side, there is only one business now operating. This is Kathleen Ambose’s hair salon operating out of Tommy Liston’s. It is amazing to think that in times when money was a scarce commodity all the businesses, now gone, made a living. I suppose people were content to get by and did not have the overheads like today and of course the tax man did not come into the equation. The arrival of the big supermarkets has been responsible for the closure of many small shops who have not got the buying power to compete. It is a pity to see them going because if the trend is not reversed Athea will just be a place to live with no place to get even a bottle of milk. That is why it is so important to support local business wherever possible.


A Great Loss

Before and after Christmas  two remarkable men, both in their nineties.  passed to their eternal reward. Paddy Faley and Dan Keane gave many people enjoyment over the years with their poetry, songs , witty stories and  anecdotes. I just wonder will we ever see their likes again? To my knowledge there are no young poets or writers coming up to take their place.  It is a sad fact that many of the younger generation can no longer write with any degree of accuracy. The advent of the computer has done away with penmanship and the mobile phone has destroyed spelling with its texting abbreviations and symbols. The art of writing is to be cherished as is the work of the poet. How do we go about  encouraging young people to try their hand at writing or composing?  Writer’s week does a competition every year through the schools in Kerry but maybe we should do more locally. With this in mind, Athea & District news will hold a competition for school-going children. They may enter either an essay or a poem on any subject. We will publish the better ones in the newsletter each week and there will be prizes for different age groups and categories. The talent is there and just needs a little shove in the right direction. Next week we will publish details of the competition and we hope to have a big entry. The prizes will be good!


Get Well Soon

Our neighbour across the road, Sean Fitz, is not in the best of health at the moment and we would like to wish him a speedy recovery. We want to see him back pulling pints and  there is no doubt the ducks miss him.

Our columnist Pat Brosnan is recuperating in St. Ita’s, Newcastle West at the moment and we also wish him a speedy recovery. The newsletter is not the same without you Pat.

Incidentally, Pat is one of two people from Limerick who is being honoured by the Munster Council of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann at their annual convention in Mallow on Sunday next. The other is Daisy Kearney from Ballyhahill (formerly Fitzgerald from Knocknasna) who is also recovering from a hip operation. They are being honoured for their contribution to the work of Comhaltas through the years. It couldn’t happen to two nicer people. Congratulations.