Tough Times Ahead

We are now facing the 1st of June and the weather shows no sign of settling. The air is still as cold as it was in winter and heavy rain has destroyed land. What once were fine meadows are now overrun by rushes. Farmers are at their wits end to keep feeding for cattle, depending on bales of hay imported from Europe. Many will go out of business even if things improve in the near future. We seem to be in a cycle of bad weather for the past few years and experts tell us we are facing similar conditions for the foreseeable future. Some blame it on global warming while others maintain that it is merely history repeating itself and these changes have occurred in the past. Whatever the reason it looks like tough times ahead for anyone making a living off the land. Consumers will be hit as well with a scarcity of crops and vegetables driving prices sky high. This is a big change from a few years ago when the country was awash with money. Are we now paying the price for the wanton wastage of food in the past?. We have all seen trolleys full of food leaving supermarkets only to be dumped a week later and this at a time when people in the Third World were dying of starvation. Surely the food we had in excess could have been sent to feed those poor unfortunates. Governments find all kinds of excuses and quote the cost as an obstacle but there is no hesitation in sending armies to war if countries that supply oil are threatened. We should take a good look at our lifestyles and thank God we are as well off as we are. Even with tough times we are so much better off than  those in the less developed countries.

Quiet in the Village

Not too long ago Athea would be crowded at the weekend with music and dancing in many establishments. Unless one came early, parking spaces would be scarce. What a difference today! The street on Saturday night is lonesome looking. People don’t come out anymore like they used to for many reasons. The cost of drink is probably the main one. The advent of the off licence and the supermarket, where drink can be bought at  much less than  the pub, meant people began to stay at home and relax with a few drinks rather than having to take a taxi, due to strict drink-driving laws, and maybe pay a babysitter. In one sense it is a pity because  it was good for people to dress up and socialise with neighbours and friends for a couple of hours. There is also the fact that drinking at home is dangerous in the sense that there is no measure of drink and no closing time. It  is easy to become addicted to alcohol which after all is a potent drug and does far more damage than some of the illegal types. The great heart surgeon, Maurice Nelligan R.I.P., once said that the formula for a healthy life was “everything in moderation, including moderation”. The absence of people from the village has a knock-on effect as well. Needless to say pubs are in danger of closing with the resultant loss of jobs. This in turn affects the local shops and other businesses with less money going to the government in VAT and income tax. So everybody loses in the end. Even the Church is suffering. The numbers attending weekly Mass have declined in recent years and this also has affected local businesses. It is going to be a struggle to keep the village alive as we know it. We don’t want to go the way of so many other villages that once were thriving but now don’t even have one shop. We can all do our bit by shopping locally as much as we can.


Domhnall de Barra