Congratulations to Anne and Donie McGrath, good friends of Killeaney AFC, who won the Athea Community Council lotto last weekend. They were recently nominated Killeaney AFC Clubpersons of the Year.

I am delighted to hear that Kevin Murphy, who let me use his photograph for the cover of my poetry book “The Purple Pencil”, has been nominated for Photographer of the Year by the panel of judges in the SWPP (Society of Wedding and Portrait Photographers). He got his nomination for his photograph of Grand Central on Thanksgiving. See The SWPP is a worldwide association of photographers. Well done to Kevin, who is a son of Stephen and Bridie Murphy Glenastar.

Gerry Collins, formerly of Glenbawn, now living in Clara, Co. Offaly is a regular visitor to the area. Having recently received the Hall of Fame award at the Killeaney AFC Annual Awards night he paid a visit last weekend to catch up on friends and neighbours. A keen cyclist he brought along his 1946 Rudge bike to cycle along the Great Southern Trail from Abbeyfeale to Devon Road. He was anxious to see the new bridge which was recently installed over the Athea Road at Abbeyfeale, to provide access to the latest 3km of the Great Southern Trail [GST]. Forty kilometres of the GST has now been developed between Rathkeale and the Kerry Border, at Rathoran townland. Gerry enjoyed his cycle and was of the opinion that he was the first to cycle along the new stretch until he met 80 year old Gerry Courtney with his dog Pinch. This delighted our Gerry and naturally both of them had a chat. It is always great to meet Gerry who intends taking a trip to Australia in 2013 to see his sons.

The GST will host the first walk along the new route on Thu. 27th December at 2.15pm from the old Abbeyfeale Station. The round trip is 4 miles and refreshments will be provided afterwards at the adjacent Railway Bar, Abbeyfeale. All the faithful supporters of the GST over the past 21 years are cordially invited as are all those who worked so diligently on the new extension and completed the job so quickly. The GST committee wish to offer sincere thanks also to the adjoining landowners for their co-operation and to CIÉ for permitting their former railway to be converted into a public amenity.  Coach House Travel are kindly providing a complimentary bus at 1.30pm from Rathkeale Old Station [now the Palatine Museum] and which will pick up at Ardagh [Church] 1.40pm, Newcastle West[Square]1.50pm and Templeglantine [Church] 2pm. Those travelling by public transport to Abbeyfeale should take the 12.35pm bus from Limerick; 1pm from Tralee or 1.30pm from Listowel.

The Ballyhahill School pupils invite you to their Nativity Play in Ballyhahill Church on this Wednesday night at 7.30 pm. The Celtic Tenors will be in Glin Church on Friday night. If you haven’t already got your tickets you may be too late as I hear they are all sold out.

Welcome home to the many young people who are joining their families in the area for the Christmas season. It is great to see them all back again.

The Clounleharde School Reunion committee is holding a fundraising night in the Knockdown Arms on Saturday 29th December. All support will be appreciated. Thank you

I wish all readers and fellow correspondents a very happy peaceful Christmas and a bright and positive New Year.

Gerry Collins at the Station House in Abbeyfeale