A Time of Memories 

With Christmas just around the corner people of my generation are inclined to look back and remember with a certain feeling of nostalgia on Christmas times of the past when we were younger and in better fitness than we are now. But then on the other hand some of us who have lived into old age have every reason to be thankful to God for having spared us so long.

Since last year many whom we knew and who were in different ways part of our lives have passed to their eternal reward, we will remember neighbours from our own parish who have died since last Christmas, and others who were well-known public figures because of their special talents, people like Moyvane’s Dan Keane, Rooskagh’s Tom McCarthy, Broadford’s Johnny Donegan and before that late Paddy Faley, Patie Enright, Dick Prendeville and Mick Barrett, all very talented people in their own ways. God rest all their souls. Some of us lost near relatives as well, my own younger brother Andrew, who was better known as Ando, died in October leaving me as the only survivor of our original family, some of  my own former neighbours in Lyreacrompane area also passed on, it was only today we were told when on the phone to my sister-in-law Kathleen in Dromada that a  one-time neighbour of ours Jackie Cronin, formerly of Dromadabeg, had died. Jackie was at one stage in his younger days a member of our Smearla Rangers football team. He later emigrated to the United States and returned here with his wife and family in Castleisland area.

As already mentioned Christmas is a time of many memories, we remember our Christmas school holidays when we were young boys and girls, there would be toys and decorations there beforehand and some lucky children would be presented with these on the day we got the holidays. In many local homes there was a goose for the Christmas dinner, very few turkeys were eaten then, they would all have been sold in the pre-Christmas Market, mostly in Castleisland. There were trips to the local shops a day or so before Christmas and the usual Christmas Boxes for their regular customers, what a lovely old custom this used to be. On St. Stephen’s Day the young lads and sometimes the girls too in the townland would be out “going in the wren”, in our area it was always “giving” rather than “hunting the wren” as it is mostly called in West Limerick.

When we grew older and attended dances there was always a dance on the night of Christmas Day at Dan Paddy Andy’s Hall in Renagown which we used to attend.

Then on St. Stephen’s night we would travel to Ballintourig in Currow area, a few miles from Scartaglin, where my father’s cousin Jamesy Brosnan had a dancehall. There was an all-night dance there each St. Stephen’s night and we would stay there until morning and then go to our cousin’s homes to get a sleep and usually remain with them for a couple of days visit. In our own townland of Dromada there were often house dances in the different homes throughout the festive period and there would be tea, bread and jam and home baked raisin cake served to the gathering in all the houses. One Christmas, when working with the Jesuits in Rathfarnham Castle, was spent by me in Dublin. Together with some more of the staff we visited a local bar in Rathfarnham on St. Stephen’s night. There was some lively company there and a great sing-song  in real old-world  Dublin style. It was my first time hearing that great lively song  “Patsy Fagan” and it was sung by one of the ladies present.

There were other times coming home on Christmas Eve from Dublin and from England to Lyreacrompane, all very happy homecomings. But there was one very special time coming back for Christmas to Mary and the children in 1966 after being away all the previous year working in Derbyshire. That was such a happy and emotional trip home that it inspired me to write a poem about it “Going Home for Christmas”. There were other lovely times to remember as well when Seanie was coming home for Christmas from a college he was attending in the Midlands and when our girls were coming home at a time they were working abroad.

There is another special pre-Christmas time in my memory as well, it was the Christmas that Mary came home from Kilcara Nursing Home where she had been recovering for a month after major surgery in the Mater Hospital in Dublin.

There are of course no doubt many other Christmas memories one could recall like the couple of times the local Knocknagorna Wrenboys held the Wren Nights at our house but space does not permit recalling them.

In the meantime my thanks to all those whose suggestions inspired me to keep writing this column and also those who sent me items and suggestions for my Limerick Leader notes. A special word of thanks to Domhnall and Lillian who each week e-mailed my notes to the Limerick Leader and who published my column in Athea and District News. A happy Christmas to you both. Festive greetings too to my relatives, friends and neighbours in Athea parish, particularly my most helpful neighbours in Knocknagorna.. A happy Christmas to Athea people everywhere at home, in other parts of Ireland and in foreign lands. My sympathy goes out to all local people and to others we know who lost loved ones during the year as well as to those who are sick or in trouble of any kind. May the Lord comfort them.

Get Well Wishes

At the time of writing our thoughts and prayers go out to the Dalton family of Glasha for Patsy’s complete recovery in University Hospital, Cork after his accident. It has been an awful ordeal for both local families and they all need our understanding and our prayers as well as any help or comfort we may be able to give to them.


Late Brian Quinn

The recent death of Brian Quinn of Templeathea was widely regretted throughout Athea parish, other parts of West Limerick, North Kerry and beyond where the Quinn family have many relatives. Brian was still a fairly young man but was having some health problems for a number of previous years. The removal took place from Kelly’s Funeral Home to St. Bartholomew’s Church where many called to express their sympathy with the family. There was also a good attendance at the Requiem Mass on the following day and at the funeral afterwards to Holy Cross Cemetery. Brian is survived by his brothers Sean and Tim, his sisters Mary and Peg, his in-laws and their relatives to whom sympathy is extended. May his soul rest in peace.


Late Bridget (Chriss) Lawlor

The death occurred on December 7th of Bridget (Chriss) Lawlor of Knocknagun, Carrigkerry. Deceased (nee O’Donoghue) was a native of Templeglantine area and had reached an advanced age. She was a well-liked member of the local community who will all miss her. She was pre-deceased by her husband several years ago. The removal took place from Reidy’s Funeral Home, Newcastle West to St. Mary’s Church, Carrigkerry, where a big number of people called to pay their respects. There was also a good attendance at the Requiem Mass on the Monday and the funeral to Calvary Cemetery on the following afternoon .

Sympathy is extended to her sons, daughters, grandchildren, her in-laws and other relatives. May her soul rest in peace.


American Tragedy

The terrible massacre at the school in Connecticut, United States, where 28 people were shot and murdered by a lone gunman was an awful tragedy and tragedies such as this are happening all too often in America and indeed in other countries as well. What motivates a person to carry out such a terrible act in cold blood is something which, for ordinary people, is beyond comprehension.

Paudie O’Shea’s Death

The unexpected death of Kerry football legend Paudie O’Shea is something we have just heard while completing this article. No further details yet. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.