Ann and Tom O’Keeffe, Mary Kelly and Kit O’Connor enjoying the Going Strong Party

Ann and Tom O’Keeffe, Mary Kelly and Kit O’Connor enjoying the Going Strong Party

Yoga Classes

Yoga classes are starting back again on Monday, February 1st in the Community Hall from 7pm to 8.30 pm. 

Athea Bingo 

The bingo committee would like to say a big thank you to all who sponsored spot prizes for the last Bingo Session of 2015. A big thank you also to all who support the bingo every Friday night and a Happy and Lucky New Year to all.

Rathfredagh Cheshire Home Walk

The annual Rathfredagh Cheshire Home walk will be held on this coming Sunday 31st January. It will commence at 10am and the walkers will travel from Barna to the Cheshire Home. Registration takes place from 9.30am in Barna. Refreshments will be served after the walk in Rathfredagh. More details and sponsorship cards from 069-83100 or 069-83279.

The Pursuit of Happiness

“Happiness is a thing called Hamlet” was an ad on TV before the ban on tobacco advertising came into effect. This type of advertising was all the rage up to then. Chic ladies and dapper gentlemen were shown puffing away to their hearts content in a state of happiness induced by the smoke from cigarettes and cigars that was supposed to make one relaxed and full of contentment. All the great actors and actresses of the day had a cigarette in the hand all the time. It was a great aid to directors because it gave the cast something to do with their hands. Is it any wonder that we couldn’t wait to start smoking, which we did as soon as we could afford to. I’m afraid it didn’t bring us the great happiness promised. The first pull on a cigarette was horrible causing a burning feeling in the mouth and intense coughing but we wouldn’t give it to say that we weren’t up to the task so we persevered and gradually got hooked. The same applied to drink. “Guinness is good for you” beamed down on us from billboards all over the place. A glass of whiskey was thought to relax us and bring us good health. Again all the celebrities drank like fish making us want to be like them and “sophisticated”. We didn’t let them down and most of us went on to “enjoy” the joys of liquor, maybe a bit too much at times. Did it make us happy, maybe for a little while but when the hangover kicked in the following morning and we had partial recall of the fools we made of ourselves the night before, the happiness was well and truly gone. Do we really know when we are happy?  I doubt it because happiness is in many cases retrospective. We can look back at days and happenings in the past and say we “were happy then” but at the time it didn’t really sink in.

I remember when I was a young lad going to school I thought I would be happy if I had a bicycle. Eventually I got one and I suppose it did make me happy for a while but I soon started to crave for a bike with a 3 speed gear. In the fullness of time I achieved my desire but when the novelty wore off I wanted a sports bike. “Hikers” bikes we called them because we only saw them when groups of cyclists, mainly from clubs in England, passed our way in the summertime. We called them hikers, don’t ask me why, and they all had bikes with several gears and turned down handlebars. I had to wait until  I went to England to get one of those bikes, £1 down and 2 shillings a week!.  Alas the happiness was again temporary and I wanted a motorbike, which I got and then a bigger one and so on until I ended up with the biggest motorbike available at the time, a Matchless 750cc with a side car that could be taken off for racing purposes. I nearly got killed off the damned thing on the M1 south of Coventry so there was little happiness there.

The story carries on with cars, again getting bigger and more powerful until I had the best one I could afford or at least I could afford with the loan from the bank. The point of all this narrative is that we never know when we are happy. The man who works hard for a living envies the boss and thinks he would be happy in his shoes. The boss very often envies the worker because he can leave work in the evening without the worries the boss has to take to bed with him. The man with just a few pounds in his pocket thinks the world would be a wonderful place if he was to become a millionaire yet the millionaire has his own problems and is unable to enjoy the quiet life.

Many a couple who are now relatively well off say they were never happier than when they were “pulling the devil by the tail”. The problem is they did not realise it at the time. Happiness is being contented with your lot today. There may be bad things happening but if we look closely enough we will find good things as well. It is all relative. If we have a bad toothache, we think we would be happy if it was gone and we would, for a while. There is happiness to be found in the simple things. Take a walk in the country and you will find numerous wonders of nature that give us great pleasure.  Wild flowers, shrubs and trees, with their arrays of colour at particular times of the year can give a sense of pleasure and a feeling of being  at one with the natural world. The same can be said for the wild life on the ground and in the air.

I once had the pleasure of watching swallows performing synchronised aerobatics over a big lawn. I was standing outside a hedge and was  blown away by the manoeuvres, flying at top speed about a foot off the ground and missing each other by fractions of an inch. This was poetry in motion and a joy to behold. I have also seen them in the evening sky, performing in great numbers, weaving intricate patterns that makes one wonder how they know instinctively what to do next. Yes, happiness is to be found all around us, in our families, our friends, nature and in our own minds. We can’t change what happened yesterday, tomorrow may never come, so live today and appreciate the things that are all around us. Far away hills are not as green as they look.


Domhnall de Barra