Sorry for my Absence

My apologies to Athea & District News and to my readers for the absence of my weekly column since mid-Summer because of undergoing surgery at St. John’s Hospital, Limerick.

My thanks to the medical, surgical and nursing staff of St. John’s Hospital and also to the medical, nursing physiotherapy and occupational therapy staff of St. Ita’s Hospital, Newcastle West who treated me well throughout my convalescence. Also to Dr. Kieran Murphy and his staff in Westbury Clinic, Athea for their attention. My thanks too to my carers, members of my own family, neighbours and friends who looked after me so well since my return home.

My sympathy to the relatives of the residents of Athea parish and Athea natives who passed away during my absence from the Athea & District News. May their souls rest in peace.

Congratulations too to local people who were married during that time. We wish them every happiness and success in their married lives.

Also to Athea competitors who won prizes at Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann and at sporting and other events during the Summer and Autumn and to the local teenagers who passed their school examinations.

Contributing Towards Peace

One of the most encouraging gestures towards peace during the past week was the invitation by Colin Parry of Warrington, England to the Six Counties Martin McGuinness to a peace rally in Warrington. When one remembers the tragedy that the Parry family endured when their twelve year old son Tim was killed together with a younger child in March 1993 when an IRA bomb exploded which was concealed in a dustbin, the great generosity and forgiveness that Colin Parry displayed in inviting Martin McGuinness to speak at the rally is something which we seldom see by those who have lost their loved ones during the Northern troubles. People like Colin Parry and his family are very rare, as we all know. Many people in the North, in Britain and indeed in the South of Ireland of all sides of the equation whose people were killed during the troubles never forgave those who were responsible and while this was understandable, at least to a certain degree, it is very sad that there was no attempt of forgiveness or reconciliation even though of course these people had every reason to feel bitter and in some instances filled only with thoughts of revenge and retribution.

While everyone is aware that there were brutal atrocities on all sides here, the North and in Britain it serves no purpose by any party to retain such acrimonious carry over, as all wars usually do. It is great to see people such as Colin Parry who had every reason to feel bitter towards the organisation that killed his young son, but obviously he had no personal grievance towards Martin McGuinness, whom he invited to speak at the peace rally.

All people of goodwill will condone the fact that Martin McGuinness spoke at the meeting and showed great understanding at the grief that the Parry family and the parents of Jonathan Ball endured following the deaths of their two boys. Anybody who contributes in any way to reconciliation between former enemies is certainly doing a good deed and must be admired for it. We can only hope that many more people who lost their loved ones during the thirty year war in the North will follow the example of Colin Parry and likewise indeed of Martin McGuinness.

Late Michael Noonan

The death occurred during the past week of Michael Noonan, former T.D. and also for a time the Minister for Defence. He joined the Fianna Fáil party in his earlier days and contested the elections at which he was always returned to his seat. He was a very well liked member of the Dáil. He was very popular with his colleagues and also with his constituents, whom he served well during his long term of office.

Sympathy is extended to his family members and other relatives. He will be missed very much by all who were acquainted with him both in public and private life. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.

Listowel Races

As usual the annual September Listowel Race Meeting was well attended even though the weather was not great at the start of the week. Many people from Athea and other West Limerick villages and towns made the annual trip to Listowel Races. This has been a tradition that goes back a long way. Many people from this locality also attended the Wrenboys competition on Friday night. The competition was won by the Coolaclare Wrenboy Group. Our Templeglantine neighbours also gave a great performance. While the Wrenboy custom has died out in many parts of the country, it is still alive and well in West Limerick. While there are several Wrenboy groups who no longer take part in competitions, nevertheless some of those go our hunting the wren on St. Stephen’s Day and there are children in some localities who also take part in the custom. However the introduction of the American ‘trick or treat’ custom has in some areas taken somewhat from the interest of going in the Wren as in former times.

Get Well Peg

My Knockdown correspondent colleague Peg Prendeville recently had an appendix operation in Portlaoise General Hospital. We are glad to know however  that she is back home again and has resumed working in Glin Library.

Tidy Towns Committee

Congratulations to the Tidy Towns committee on being so successful in the competition. No doubt they put a whole lot of effort into the preparation and the village was looking lovely for the adjudication and the committee was well worthy of the points they received. Well done to everybody who was involved.