Death of Hannah Murphy

The death occurred during the week of Hannah Murphy (nee Healy), wife of Liam Murphy, Gortnagross, after a short illness. Hannah was a well liked member of the local community, together with Liamie and their family and her death has been widely regretted throughout Athea Parish, other areas of West Limerick, North Kerry and beyond. Hannah was a local girl from just outside the village when Liamie and herself were married many years ago.  Between them they raised a lovely family who have all since grown up well and made their own way. Hannah had been in hospital for a short time before she passed away, but few expected that she was so ill and had hoped for her recovery. The removal took place on Thursday where a large number of people called to Kelly’s Funeral Home, Athea to pay their respects and express their sympathy with the family. There was also a big attendance at the Requiem Mass on Friday and at the funeral afterwards to Holy Cross. Sympathy is extended to her husband Liam and the members of their family and extended family, to her grandchildren, her in-laws, nieces, nephews and other relatives. ‘May her soul rest in peace.’

Late Mary Shiels

The death of Mary Shiels (nee Ahern) Glensharrold occurred during the week. Deceased who was in her late ‘80’s had been in failing health for some time previously and had been in hospital. She was an esteemed member of the local community and her death is very regretted by her family members, relatives, friends and neighbours including some of whom live in Athea. Mary was pre-deceased by her late husband Dan several years ago.  The removal took place from Reidy’s Funeral Home, Newcastle West on Thursday evening of last week to St Mary’s Church, Carrigkerry and was attended by a large number of people who came to pay their respects and express their sympathy with the family. Many also attended the Requiem Mass on Friday and the funeral afterwards to Kilcolman cemetery. Sympathy is extended to her sons, daughters, sister, nieces, nephews, grandchildren, her in-laws and other relatives.  ‘May her soul rest in peace’.

Cutting Our Benefits

Several people of my age and indeed many younger who are on contributory or non-contributory pensions received letters during the past week from our telephone companies informing us that our telephone subsidies were being reduced from €22.58 each month to €9.50 per month by order of the so-called Department of Social Protection. What kind of protection is this savage cut in our telephone allowance depriving pensioners of more than half their phone subsidy each month? How has this Department the cheek and effrontery to call itself Social Protection? Who is this Department protecting anyway? the banks? the bondholders? the European Capitalists? who are robbing this country of its resources, its independence, its dignity and more than anything else of the brightest and best of its young people because there are no jobs for them here and they have to emigrate.  Does Social Protection mean looking after the interests of the super wealthy, the big investors, the financial gamblers, the foreign loan sharks and all the other riff-raff in our own and European society who have done such damage to our country since we became part of the European Union which Michael O’Leary, the successful chief of Ryan Air, some years ago branded “this evil Empire”. As well, of course, as cutting out telephone allowance by all accounts they have also reduced our electricity subsidy which will of course cause considerable hardship to elderly people who depend on electricity for heating and cooking as well as washing and so forth during the cold winter months. More than some others it will affect those of us who are not getting a fuel allowance during any time of the year.  And yet we are the people who contributed to the Social Services of this country during our working lives. We paid for our stamps on Health and Social Welfare when our wages were low in poorer times. At one period when working in Dublin on the Staff with the Jesuit Order for 15 shillings a week, 1 shilling and 3 pence each week was deducted out of this small wage as a Social Welfare contribution. And now once again we are the people who are being punished by our Department of Social Protection for the mismanagement of others in high places by having our electricity and telephone allowances cut to a miserable fraction of what these had been. The nameless officials in this Department who are doing this to us deserve no respect and the politicians who are behind it deserve no votes. We were not surprised that the Fine Gael Party might do this because we heard all our lives how their predecessors at one time when they were in Government cut the old age pension by a shilling when it was only 10 shillings weekly.  But to think that the Labour Party would co-operate in depriving retired and elderly people by removing or reducing much of their previous benefits is something that is surely beyond belief. In conclusion let me make it quite clear that those of us who use the medium of the written word to draw attention to the injustices and inequalities that are now happening in the country do not bear any ill will against the Government and the Fine Gael and Labour Parties as such. All we want them to do, and indeed expect them to do, is to honour the promises they made to the voters of our country two years ago before the general election of 2011. Both Party’s then asked us to vote for change, but what they never told us was that it would mean change for the worse. After the latest cut-backs now we are beginning to understand what they really meant, but unfortunately the workers, the deprived, the underprivileged and the pensioners have now to continue paying for the excesses and squander mania of the rich and privileged. That is Ireland as it is today in 2013.

Better News from England

In striking contrast to the facts outlined by me in the above paragraphs there was a welcome piece of news last week from the British Social Security Executive in Newcastle-on-Tyne informing those of us who are getting English Pensions that the Government there had, as usual, granted the annual increase in our Retirement Pensions from April 8th next. These were the usual letters that arrive each February advising us year after year about the increased pensions by the British Government. Since my English Retirement Pension was first paid to me several years ago there has, ever since, been an annual increase and one might also mention that the annual Christmas bonus continues to be paid as usual.  When one compares this English sense of fair play for Irish people who worked for them and contributed their share towards Social Security during our time there for which we are now being rewarded it goes to illustrate the shabby manner in which our own Social Welfare Department is treating us with all these reductions in our previous benefits.  Is it any wonder that the majority of the people in the North, including some Catholics, prefer to remain part of the United Kingdom if only for economic reasons and for all the benefits.  As far as my own English Pension which is just about 25 or 26% of the basic considering that my time there working and Social Welfare contributing was just 10 years the increase was a modest £1 sterling per week. But this is £52 per year and if converted into Euro would work out at around 60 – 70 Euro per annum which is something to be grateful for and appreciate even because of the principle of the matter. We were of  course some of the many young men of twenty, thirty and forty who emigrated to England during the mid-fifties and who in all fair play were generally treated well by the English. They still continue to so when they give us an increase in our retirement pension every year in sterling.

Red Squirrel Sighted

A number of local people recently spotted a red squirrel emerging from the forestry near the old school in Knocknagorna. For Athea area this is a very rare sighting and it must be several decades since any of these little animals were last seen around anywhere in this locality. In fact by all accounts the red squirrels are reported as becoming very scarce in parts of the country where they were once plentiful. It appears that in places where the grey squirrels take over and inhabit they kill off all the red squirrels.