by Domhnall de Barra


This week, Pat is taking a very well deserved rest from his writings and is taking it easy in St. Ita’s, Newcastle West. It gives me the opportunity to thank him for all he has done for our community since he came from Lyreacrompane to live in Knocknagorna.  He got involved in the voluntary work of many organisations; the unselfish work that keeps our community alive. Let us take a look at some of the contributions he has made. He was a member of the G.A.A. an Community Games for many years and helped to raise much needed funds for the great work they do with our young people. A composer and singer of songs he is still involved with Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann and holds the position of chairman of the Athea branch. He joined the Civil Defence and brought his skills as a nurse to bear on that organisation being always available to give aid. He got to know everyone in the parish through his work on the census forms. In recent years he has been active in the Church, taking up the collection at Mass and, until recently, cleaning the Church on a Tuesday. He supported all the local (and not so local) rambling houses and set up the group “Ceol Luimnigh” who had their own monthly sessions and performed voluntarily in local hospitals and nursing homes. In the recent “TradFéile” festivals he took responsibility for the entertainment on stage in the street and kept the music, song and dance going for the weekend. These are but a few of his contributions to the welfare of our society but it is in his writings that he has really done us proud. His weekly column in the Limerick Leader has kept people up to date with all the news of the parish. Since he started writing for this newsletter, many years ago, he has commented on local and national issues and is never afraid to air his opinions. His many books of poems and songs give the reader an insight into his knowledge and love for Athea and  its beautiful scenery. It is no wonder that he has won many County, Munster and All-Ireland titles down through the years. I think his greatest honour came this year when he was chosen as one of only 12 people in Munster to receive an award for services to Comhaltas. So, Pat, I’m glad to get the chance to say to you, thank you for all you have done for the parish  and to wish you many more years enriching our lives.


National Day of Music

Thursday, June 21st has been designated  National Day of Music. The National Music Network has been given the task of organising events throughout the country and they have asked Comhaltas Ceoltóirí  Éireann to help. Any event, especially outdoors, by a river, bridge, historic building, shopping arcade etc may be arranged.

We in Athea are hoping to have an evening of music and dancing with a bar-b-cue thrown in, down by the river near the bridge. We are hoping to put down a dancing platform and encourage the many dancers in the locality to bring us back to the old days of the platform dancing which took place at crossroads throughout the country. If the evening is fine it will be a lovely way to celebrate our native culture on the longest day of the year. If you have any suggestions on this, please do not hesitate to call me on  087 6758762.


The Cost of Living

Why is there such a difference in the cost of living between Ireland and most other European countries?  We will be given the same excuses;  commercial rates, high employment rates etc but there are still big gaps that aren’t accounted for.  Take the cost of medicinal drugs for example. Why are the same drugs on the Continent sometimes a fraction of the price they are here? Surely if they are made by the same company some middleman is taking more than a fair share of the profit. The same may be said of food and drink. Recently, on a trip to Coventry, Noreen and I had a meal in a very well run establishment. Two steaks with all the trimmings and a bottle of wine came to £14.99.  On the way home we had a meal at a hotel not too far from here and the bottle of wine alone came to €22.  Pints of lager and beer in England average about €2 in comparison to twice that much here. Maybe that is why pubs are struggling here while their counterparts across  the water are thriving. To their credit some sections are fighting back and have reduced their prices considerably. It is now affordable to take a couple of nights break in a top hotel. They are also doing deals with food. This is the way we need to go if we are ever going to  attract the numbers of tourists we used to have before the Celtic Tiger drove everyone mad. The government has a role to play as well.  VAT and other taxes bring in needed funds but far more is to be gained from the wealth generated through tourism if these taxes were reduced enabling our service industries to be more competitive.


County Fleadh

The Limerick County Fleadh takes place over the coming Bank Holiday weekend with a totally new type of venue. This year it is being held on the campus of UL instead of in a town or village. There are great facilities on site with restaurants, bars etc all at hand. The host branch is  the relatively new Castletroy branch but they are not lacking in experience with some very well known Comhaltas members on the committee. The varied programme of events begins on Wednesday night and finishes on Monday with the dancing competitions. After the official opening on Friday night there is a tribute concert for Donal O’Connor. Donal was headmaster of the Vocational School in Cappamore until his retirement a few years ago and is one of the best and most respected fiddle players in the country. A native of Brosna, he was the leader of the Brosna Céilí Band that won the All-Ireland a few years back. There is a star-studded line-up of musicians and singers  for the concert which takes place in the Castletroy Hotel at 8.30pm.

Tickets and further information at 087 9352605 or



Sincerest sympathy is extended to the family of Mary Dalton, Upper Athea, the oldest woman in the parish, who passed away over the weekend. May she rest in peace