Archive for 2015


Eileen O’Sullivan, Mary Quinn Keane, Johnny Cotter, Maireád Langan, Maureen Mulvihill & Peggy Casey enjoyed catering for the Going Strong Christmas Party

Eileen O’Sullivan, Mary Quinn Keane, Johnny Cotter, Maireád Langan, Maureen Mulvihill & Peggy Casey enjoyed catering for the Going Strong Christmas Party

Nancy Hanrahan, Clash and Sean Hanrahan, Athea at the Going StrongParty

Nancy Hanrahan, Clash and Sean Hanrahan, Athea at the Going StrongParty

Upper Athea women Betty O’Connor and Marie O’Connor enjoying the Going Strong Christmas Party recently

Upper Athea women Betty O’Connor and Marie O’Connor enjoying the Going Strong Christmas Party recently


To all our readers, columnists, advertisers, contributors and the shops who sell the newsletter free of charge. May the coming year bring you all you desire.

Best wishes also to all our exiles who read the news from Athea on-line. Wishing you all the peace and joy of Christmas and best wishes for the New Year.

The first publication of the New Year will be on Wednesday, January 6th.

Athea Parish Journal

Athea Parish Journal is currently on sale in Brouder’s & Collins’ shops, Athea  and in Moloney’s, Carrigkerry and Mullane’s shop in Knockdown.

 Stamps Appeal

A reminder to collect your used stamps again this year. You can drop the stamps in to the office here for collection at any time.

Athea & District Credit Union

Open on Tuesday, December 22nd from 6.30-8.30.  Wednesday, December 23rd 6.30-8.30.

Closed for the holidays

Re-opens on Tuesday, January 5th at 6.30. Wishing all our members a very Happy Christmas and best wishes for the New Year.

Going Home for Christmas

I was listening to a song on the radio the other day called “Driving home for Christmas” and it brought me back to the middle of the last century when going home for Christmas was a big event for most Irish emigrants, especially those in the UK. At that time, not long after the war, there were hundreds of people from this parish scattered all over England, Scotland and Wales. Families of 10 and 12 was the norm then and there was no employment so whole families sometimes had to emigrate. Some never again returned while others looked forward to the yearly trip home to see the parents and all the friends. I spoke to a man from Dirreen once in Manchester who told me he had never been home in 11 years. It wasn’t that he didn’t want to, quite the opposite, he was afraid that if he ever did come home he wouldn’t be able to leave again. We can only imagine the loneliness he experienced each year away from all he held dear not to mention how his parents felt.

Those who did want to travel started making plans after the end of the summer. Some gave up the drink altogether for the couple of months leading up to Christmas saving quite a bit of money in the process. Others, who weren’t so thrifty, borrowed the money, usually from the landlord of their local boozer and spent the rest of the year after going back repaying the debt. It didn’t matter how the money was obtained as long as they arrived in Ireland with pockets full of cash to make a big impression on the locals who, at that time, didn’t have a whole pile to spend.

Before we emigrated ourselves we used to look forward to the “invasion” from England with mixed feelings. We envied them the fine clothes and the money in their pockets. In those days we had two types of clothes, one set for working and the “good” clothes for going to Mass and special occasions. A collar and tie always accompanied the good clothes. The boys from England had all the modern gear, the skinny trousers, the “winkle picker” shoes (shoes with long toes that came to a point), the cut back collars and the skinny ties. They also had the latest hairstyles like the “Tony Curtis” (that was the one with the waves at the front and the ducks arse at the back) while we had the usual short back and sides and dressed in worn suits that were limited to two basic colours, navy blue and bird’s eye brown. We also had a job hanging onto our girlfriends while they were around. A fellow home from England, who wouldn’t merit a second look in Kilburn Town, Mosley or Moss Side, could make a great impression on the dance floor at home and easily turn the heads of the local girls. It came to blows on more than one occasion but nothing serious was allowed to develop and we got the girls back again when they went back after the holidays. On another level we were very happy to see them and listen to all the tales of how good things were across the water. They also had something we didn’t have in those days; transport. On arrival in Ireland they would hire a “self drive” car. Our old bikes were left in the shed for the duration as we piled into the cars to go to dances and wren nights near and far. There were also plenty of parties with lashings of booze and we generally had a great time while they were around. Eventually it came to our turn to take the cattle boat from Dunlaoghaire to Holyhead and we became the ones “going home for Christmas”. The feeling when that train pulled up at the station in Abbeyfeale was something to be experienced.

Happy Christmas.

Domhnall de Barra

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Kathleen’s Corner-22/12/2015

By Kathleen Mullane

“Happy Christmas” 

Can I start by wishing all readers of Athea & District News, all fellow correspondents and of course Lillian & Donal, all the very best for Christmas and good health and happiness for 2016.  I had a card from Margaret Hurley O’Connell in Birmingham (Paddy Hurley’s sister and John O’Connell’s sister-in-law) who said her son reads her the newsletter every week and it’s the only thing that keeps her in touch with Athea, so isn’t that great to hear that at least our few lines are reaching out to our emigrants. Well done to Athea Printers.

It was just announced the other day , that Ireland was the 8th best place in the world to live in with the USA in 9th place –  or vice-versa. That was indeed good news to hear, so we are well up there in  the big world.

Well, Christmas time always brings about engagements and this year is no exception. Lorraine Higgins (daughter of Bernie and Pat, Glenagragra) has got engaged to James Fenton of Borris in Carlow. The newly engaged couple are home from Australia for Christmas.

The engagement also took place last week of Dan Leahy (son of Mary Ita and Stevie, Upper Athea) to Michelle Kearney N.T. (daughter of Angela and Joe Moyvane). Sincere congrats and good wishes to the newly engaged couples.

Congrats are also sent to Eoin Horgan (son of Kevin and Margaret, Knocknasna) who celebrated his 21st birthday at the Top of the Town recently.

Congrats to Joanne Hunt (daughter of Teady, Coole West) and Jason Michael who have been blessed with a new baby boy, William Brian Michael.

Sympathy is extended to Margaret Ahern, Lower Athea on the death of her mother, Anne Cunningham of Kilbaha, over the weekend. Also to Tom Grady on the recent death of his mother Peg at a great age. And to the relatives and friends of John Mautie Moran of Clash who was buried last Saturday. Sympathy also to Ger Finucane and his wife Julie on the death of his mother recently. May the Light of Heaven be theirs.

The Christmas vigil Mass will be celebrated this Thursday night at 8pm and Christmas Day Masses will be at 9am and 11am. It is hoped that Canon Kelly will be able to make one of the Christmas Day Masses. We wish him well.

What a great day was enjoyed by all the grandparents on Friday last here in the school. Firstly, we were allowed to browse around the school for a while where one could admire the pupils’ lovely art work and look at the many photos of pupils both past and present. Then it was up to the Church for 11.30 Mass which indeed was a credit to the teachers and pupils alike, also Fr. Bowen. The singing of Christmas carols was lovely. Then it was down to the school where there was a fabulous spread of cakes, buns, tea, coffee etc. Indeed well done to all those who helped out with the catering. No doubt Grandparents Day will be an annual event such was its success.

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Knockdown News-22/12/2015

By Peg Prendeville

Happy Christmas to Domhnall and Lillian and all Knockdown News readers. May 2016 be a good year for all of us.

I wrote the following for the ICA Book of Christmas and will finish off the year with it here.

I associate the smell of fresh paint with Christmas, as, for the week prior to the big event, we painted everything including the staircase, the legs of the table and the doors. We would not put up the Christmas decorations until the morning of Christmas Eve – always the same ones in the same place! Some of the decorations included handmade paper chains. Mostly I loved putting up the crib.  We had a little table on which we put a semi circle cave-like crib which my father had made from plywood. We put in a floor of straw on which we placed the figurines which were made by a local artist from special clay in the local area.  One of the Wise King’s head fell off one year and every year we tried to put it back on using soap! No glue then! We covered this structure with holly. At night, as a child, I would sit in front of it and wonder about the birth of Jesus and feel sorry for Mary having to give birth in such poor circumstances. We did not have a Christmas tree in those years.

The last job my father did on Christmas Eve was to sweep the boreen in preparation for Santa. I loved that around 5.00 pm we would light the candle on the front windows; I can still picture my father cutting a turnip in half and cutting a hole out of the centre to place the candle in it. When we had tidied the house and sat down by the fire we waited for the magic to happen. We would listen to the “letters to Santa” being read out on the radio and I loved that beautiful voice of Noel Purcell.  And we could not wait for Santa to leave the North Pole and how lucky and special we felt when we were one of the FIRST houses in the world that he visited.  Co-incidentally our cousin would also arrive around that time laden with Christmas goods made by our lovely Auntie Mary. She would send some goodies including a cooked turkey and a delicious home made trifle with custard and cream and dotted with red cherries. While we were “oohing and aahing” over these treats the dog would start barking outside and my father would go out to “check the cows in the barn” and come in telling us he saw Santa passing over. We would rush out to the front room to see five parcels neatly wrapped in brown paper and arranged in a row on the bed. I still can smell the excitement and atmosphere of sheer delight and amazement. The innocence of it all.

After we had calmed down and admired all that Santa had brought us – he always included new gym frocks for Christmas Day Mass – we would have a supper with our cousin. This included another treasure from Auntie Mary – homemade butter cream sponge which we had been waiting for all day long. Then we would listen as my father told stories of his Christmasses long ago in the 1920’s. Eventually our cousin would get on his bike to cycle home and we would go to bed as we had to be up early in the morning to attend 8 am Mass in Athea. I can still hear the silence in the street in the local village as the only noise was the footsteps of the people heading to the Church; there were not too many cars then.

All these memories come alive now as I remember back to the 1960’s. Christmas was so different in many ways but so alike in the magic of it all. I watch my grandchildren now and can share in their delight at seeing their presents, so much more elaborate than ours, but still magical. And some people believe that there is no Santa! No wonder I hear him laughing ho-ho-ho!

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