Cheque presentation to Tony Noonan at the Top of the Town

Cheque presentation to Tony Noonan at the Top of the Town

Noonan Lights Cheque Presentation

Tony Noonan, of Noonan’s Lights Charities, received a cheque for €1,025 from Betty and Johnny Cotter proceeds of a fundraising dance held at the Top of the Town, Athea. Also in picture are Claire O’Sullivan, Mary and Ned Riordan, Jerry Brouder and Pat and Gearóid O’Sullivan

Comhaltas Meeting

An important meeting of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann will be held at the Top of the Town on Monday night next at 7.30pm.  Anyone who is interested in Irish music, song or dance is asked to come along and join a new group to promote |Irish culture in the parish. All former members are also asked to attend.

Looking to get fit, healthy and lose weight in a fun and friendly environment? 

Then come along to Body Pump & Exercise to music classes with Nicole on Wednesdays from 8-9pm in the Con Colbert Hall, Athea. €8 per session / 4 nights inclusive for €25.

St. Vincent’s Centre Lisnagry Association, Limerick

Annual Church gate collection this coming weekend February 13th/14th. The funds collected will go towards the refurbishment and upgrading of residential facilities in St. Vincent’s Centre. Your valuable support in the past has been much appreciated by our committee, the sisters and staff of St Vincent’s. We would like to thanks your parishioners for the generous response to our annual collections in the past and we look forward to their continued interest and financial support.

Umbra Clothing Collection 

There will be a clothing collection this Friday, February 12th in the Church car park in Athea.

Hearts and Flowers

Just as we have got over Christmas and the mountain of cards that arrived through the letterbox, the shops are full of more cards –  Valentine cards. February 14th is St. Valentine’s feast day and it is an excuse for the temporary insanity that makes otherwise sane individuals spend their hard earned money on cards, flowers, chocolates, wine and goodness knows what else to express their dying devotion to their true love or “valentine”.  It is a bit like advertising; if everyone else is doing it, you can’t afford not to and be seen as a skinflint and romantically bereft. How did this all start?  The history of St. Valentine is very sketchy. It is recorded that he was a Bishop in Rome and was stoned and beheaded in the third century by the emperor Claudius Gothicus. Legend has it that he was arrested for being a Christian and carrying out his Christian duties and, even though he befriended his jailor and restored sight to his daughter, he was stoned and beheaded. His body was buried in a cemetery on the Via Flaminia in Rome.

Several other stories about him can be taken with a large pinch of salt  and they were probably invented to make his association with courting couples and romance more believable. It isn’t until the English poet Geoffrey Chaucer mentioned the traditions of St. Valentine’s Day in “Parliament of Foules” that the Saint’s day was celebrated as a day for lovers. The feast itself probably replaced a pagan feast that celebrated the pairing of birds in mid-February. Whatever the history, or lack of same, St. Valentine is now the patron of all those in love and a big business has grown up around it.

In my younger days it wasn’t as intense as it is now but we still were delighted when we got a card from “an admirer”. The custom in those days was to remain anonymous and keep the recipient guessing. In my mid teens I fell madly in love with a girl who used to go to school in Abbeyfeale. We cycled the same road every morning and I was too shy to do anything about my romantic feelings. St. Valentine’s Day was approaching one year but money was scarce and I didn’t have the price of a card so I wrote her a letter one night while my parents were out and the rest of the clan were in bed. The next problem I had was where to hide the letter, not an easy thing to do in a house of three adults and six children!. I eventually hid it under the saddle of the bike which was leaning against the gable end of the house. I went to bed in the front room and was still awake when my father and mother came home. Unknown to me it had started to snow and the first thing my mother did was to bring in my bicycle to the kitchen to protect it for the morning. I could see what was happening  through the half open door and you can imagine how I felt when she bounced the bicycle on the  floor by the doorway, to get rid of the snow, and dislodged the letter from under the saddle. I squirmed in the bed as she opened and read the letter. With a broad smile on her face, she had a silent laugh to herself and carefully replaced the letter under the saddle. After a very restless night I ventured into the kitchen in the morning, not knowing what to expect and in mortal fear of facing the ridicule of my siblings. To her credit, my mother never mentioned a word and went about her business as usual. I scooped down my porridge as fast as I could, retrieved the letter from under the saddle, and cycled off down the road. At Cratloe bridge I took the letter, ripped it in pieces and threw it into the river. My amorous intentions had received a mortal wound and I resolved to give up girls altogether, they were too much trouble. That resolution didn’t last long as I got a card in the post  from, whom I later discovered was, the object of my affections and I was back in that wonderful world of romance, albeit mainly in my head!. The love affair never came to much except for brief moments holding hands in Kelly’s hall on a Friday night at the pictures. Nevertheless I went up the road to Knocknaboul floating on air. Isn’t love wonderful!

It would be very easy to be cynical and say the whole St. Valentine’s day business is just a racket to make money. What if it is. It brings a bit of commerce to local shops, florists, pubs, restaurants, printers, newspapers etc. and that surely is a good thing. It is also very important that people are reminded of how much they are loved. We all need a little bit of TLC now and again so, no matter what his real history is, long live St. Valentine’s Day.

Domhnall de Barra

P.S.  I was taken to task by a friend of mine who read my piece on the forthcoming election last week. In it I mentioned that Fine Gael were proposing to spend 12 million over the next five years. It should of course have read over 12 Billion. I am still not sure how they arrived at figures that are different from every other party’s calculations which show that there is far less money available for that despicable term “fiscal space”. I suppose with smoke and mirrors everything is possible. I wish some party would propose that instead of giving away money we would maintain existing taxes and increase them for those who can afford it. The extra money could then be used to once and for all solve the patients on trolleys debacle and ensure that everyone who needs one would have a roof over their head. I think most fair-minded people would go along with this and I, for one would vote for that party. We need new thinking, new approaches and less patronisation from our representatives. This could be a great country but it will take , honesty, endeavour and sacrifice to achieve this and these qualities are in short supply.