Some of the attendance at the recent meeting about the upgrading of the Athea Sewerage System including  Aisling Buckley and Paul Cremin from Irish Water

Some of the attendance at the recent meeting about the upgrading of the Athea Sewerage System including Aisling Buckley and Paul Cremin from Irish Water

Upgrade For Athea Treatment Plant

At a joint meeting of Athea Community Council and Athea Tidy Towns Committee, held at The Library on Tuesday evening last, Irish Water representatives Aisling Buckley and Paul Cremin outlined plans to upgrade the sewerage treatment system in Athea. A survey of the existing pipework is to carried out straight away and it is thought that some of the line may have to be replaced. The treatment plant on the Glin Road, which is totally inadequate, will be replaced with a more modern, higher capacity facility. The money is already in place for this project and, all going well work should commence in the early part of next year. The meeting was organised by Pat O’Donovan, TD who has championed Athea’s quest for this long awaited upgrade.

Athea GAA Fun Run & 5k Adventure Run

Following on from last year’s very enjoyable Adventure Run/Fun Run, the Club has decided to hold another one on Sunday June 7th starting at 1pm sharp  from the GAA Grounds. Registration will take place from 12-12.45pm. There is a €50 prize for the 1st man & woman to finish and €20 for the first child to finish. There will  be a Barbecue at Collin’s Bar afterwards where the presentations will be made. Loads of spot prizes also on offer.

Athea GAA Club Draw 2015

Ticket sellers will be out and about shortly selling tickets for our Club Draw. There are eight draws again this year, with a total prize fund of €11,800 to be won. Fully paid up Members Prize €1,000.  €80 per Ticket or €10 per Draw. Prize Money Per Draw: 1st €500, 2nd €250, 3rd €150, 4th €150, 5th €150, 6th €150

The Telephone

We have seen, during the last few years, the disappearance of the telephone box from the streets of our towns and villages. Hard to believe it now in the days of mobile phones, Skype etc.   but at one time very few people had their own telephones and the local box was well used, people often having to queue to make a call. The early ones did not even have numbers on the dial. To make a call you had to twist a handle to get the attention of the local operator in the post office and tell them the number you wanted. They then patched you through to the regional exchange who connected you to whatever town or village area you wanted and they in turn connected you to the local number in their area; a complicated procedure. To make matters worse, when people started to get their own phones they were put on “party lines”. This meant that three or four phones were on the one line and were identified in the exchange by one, two, three or four rings. They all had the same number and if one person was on the line, nobody else in the group could make a phone call. There was no privacy as anyone in the group could listen in to others conversation just by picking up the phone. The local exchange managed the switchboard until 10 o’clock at night and it was then switched to the regional exchange in Listowel. If you happened to be in the middle of a call at 10pm the line just went dead and you had to try and reconnect through Listowel. Switchboard operators were not supposed to listen to calls but, human nature being what it is, some did. There is a story told about the late great Brian McMahon of Listowel who had a song that the BBC broadcasting company in England were interested in recording for a program on folk music and song they were doing at the time. Rather than having Brian make the long journey to England the recording could be made over the phone if a suitable quiet hour could be arranged. The local postmaster in Listowel was contacted and it was agreed that the recording could be made on a Monday night at midnight from the phone box in The Square. At the appointed hour the phone rang and Brian was in place to answer the man from the BBC. After exchanging pleasantries he gave Brian a count  down from ten and he began to sing his song. There was nobody moving about Listowel at that time of night so there was little fear of any interruption. Everything was going well until the end of the first verse when there was a shout on the line from the exchange, “good man Brianeen”. The operator had been listening in and forgot himself being so engrossed in Brian’s singing. Needless to say the BBC were not too amused and the operator was lucky to keep his job.

Local operators could be very helpful as well. I remember one time trying to ring home from England. This procedure involved about six connections and when at last the call was connected to Athea I could hear Edsie O’Connor, R.I.P., who was then the local post master, telling the English operator,      “ there is no good in trying to ring them. I just saw them a couple of minutes ago at the carnival”.

Those days seem so far away now but in reality it is but a short space of time. In the late ‘seventies I had to wait for three years to get a phone installed and it was not until the late Albert Reynolds took over as Minister for Post and Telegraphs that things improved. Fair play to him he sorted the backlog out in a very short time and soon anyone who wanted a phone was connected straight away. Now the phone is in danger of disappearing, just as the boxes have with the advent of the mobile phone, an item we don’t seem to be able to live without.

Domhnall de Barra