by Domhnall de Barra

I am filling in for Pat Brosnan this week as he is currently in St. Ita’s. He had a bit of a fall and we wish him a speedy recovery and look forward to reading his column again in the near future. In a recent issue Pat wrote of the absence of festivals from Athea this year. We used to have horse races (sometime two in the same year) the Vintage Rally, Bike Races, Tradféile and the Fair of Athea. The Fair survives but some of the others have not. The Bike Races were cancelled this year but not before they put paid to the TradFéile. TradFéile has been held over the August weekend since it’s inception four years ago. In the fall of last year the Bike Race committee  announced that the 2012 races would be held over that weekend in 2012. It was not possible for the TradFeile to be held on a different date due to clashes with Fleadhanna Cheoil and other local events so the committee were left with no option but to cancel the event. By the time the Bike Races were cancelled it was too late to re-organise the TradFéile. It was unfair of the Bike Races to take the August weekend but,  in the interest of keeping the event going for Athea, the TradFeile committee did not dig their heels in and insist on keeping their traditional dates. The result of the whole debacle is that we now have no TradFeile and no Bike Races. The organisation of the Vintage Rally left much to be desired last year with some of the exhibitors very unhappy with their treatment in Athea. This has left a sour taste and  it was evident that had it been held as usual they would not be back. The good news is that a totally new committee has been formed and they have founded  the Athea Vintage Club. This committee has nothing to do with previous committees and are starting with a clean slate. They plan to hold a Vintage Rally in Athea on September 16th 2012. To start the ball rolling they are having a fund-raising dance at the Top of the Town on Saturday next, August 4th  –  music by Sliabh Luachra. This deserves all our support as we need to generate as much business as possible if the village is to survive.

The weather is the great topic of conversation at the moment with people racking their memory to find a year as bad in the past. I was talking to one elderly gentleman the other day who told me he remembered 1947 or “black 47” as it was known. It was very similar to this year with very heavy rainfall throughout the Summer. It cleared in August so maybe history will repeat itself. There are serious consequences for farmers of all varieties.  Cows are now being fed winter feed which will create a great scarcity in the springtime. Tillage farmers can’t get into the fields to harvest the crops and the signs are not good for the grain, barley, oats etc.  If farmers have a bad year there is a knock-on effect on other businesses and everyone suffers. The bogs are like lakes and turf that had been dry is now getting wet again. Maybe we will be lucky in the next few weeks but the immediate forecast is not too encouraging. It all goes to show how dependant we are on the weather. It is such a pity that there isn’t a bit more order to things. In parts of Africa they have not seen rain for three years and  we have too much water!

The Tidy Towns Committee continue to do great work. They have festooned the place with flowers, cleaned up many areas and have painted some buildings. All this costs money so they are having a fund-raising draw with lines on sale at €3. The draw will be made at the Top of the Town on Saturday, September 1st Your support is requested to help the committee in their endeavours on our behalf.

I had the misfortune lately to be in a local town as young people emerged from a night club. It was, to say the least, frightening. There was a lot of aggression between both male and females who were obviously out of their minds on some substance or other. They walked in front of passing cars without even looking and showered the drivers with abuse. I know that this wasn’t typical of all the people who attended the night club but I couldn’t help but feel sad that these young people who have had the best education available were capable of acting in such a mindless manner. Several fights broke out and eventually the Guards arrived to disperse the crowd. Where has it all gone wrong?  Are our children being educated by TV, computer games and the worst influences from across the Atlantic ?  Binge drinking and drugs are the norm for a “good night out” and there seems to be nothing we can do about it as old “stick in the muds” like myself know nothing and are just spoilsports. I am just glad I grew up in an era when we had respect for ourselves and each other.

Athea Community Council have applied for planning permission to build a toilet and small kitchen at the rear of the library. This is proving tricky as the building is listed and our first application has to be changed to accommodate all the conditions laid down by the conservation officer. It has delayed the opening of the building but it is hoped to connect the water and sewage in the near future. It is amazing that the library has operated for so long without water or a toilet, surely basic necessities for any public building.

Garda vetting is now necessary for anyone working in an environment where they may be in contact with children or vulnerable adults. This is a good thing and minimises the chance of abuse taking place. There does not however seem to be any common sense in the way it is administered. To take an example; if somebody works in the school and has been Garda vetted, then gets a job across the road in the hall, that person has to be vetted again for the new job. An even more stupid scenario; if somebody is in a FAS scheme and has been vetted, then moves to a neighbouring scheme they also have to be vetted again. There is no joined up thinking here and apart from the delays in filling vacancies it is putting extra unnecessary work on Gardaí who have plenty to do otherwise. Time for a rethink.

Our sympathies at this time to the Mulvihill family, Dirreen, on the death of Danny Mulvihill.  He was a well known and respected bus driver and formerly drove the lorry for Jimmy Collins drawing meal and flour from Ranks Mills in Limerick. May he rest in peace.