Shane Mulvihill and Connie Noonan who were both presented with Awards at the West Board All Star Awards in Rathkeale House Hotel on Saturday night last

Shane Mulvihill and Connie Noonan who were both presented with Awards at the West Board All Star Awards in Rathkeale House Hotel on Saturday night last

Athea Drama Group Presents

‘The Hen Night Epiphany’  By Jimmy Murphy 

The play will be performed at the Con Colbert Memorial Hall, Athea on February 25th, 27th & 28th and March 3rd, 5th & 6th at 8pm, with doors open from 7.30pm.

The cast, directed by Oliver McGrath, includes: Annette O’Donnell, Ria Browne O’Donnell, Louise Ahern, Nora Hunt and Angeline O’Donnell.

‘The Hen Night Epiphany’ promises to be an emotional evening of laughter and tears with a hen night you will never forget. We guarantee you a great night in the theatre! Please note that this play contains adult themes.

Athea Community Games

We had our Church Gate collection at the weekend and we collected 580.40 euro. A sincere thank you to all who gave so very generously and this money will help to ensure our children of the parish continue to enter and take part in Community Games activities. Thank you to all who helped with this collection.

Traditional Concert

Traditional fundraising variety concert by West Limerick traditional singing club on Saturday March 12 in Fr Casey’s GAA club, Abbeyfeale. The concert will include a variety of Traditional Musicians, Singers, Storytellers and dancers all for just €10. Please support. West Limerick singing club are also hosting a night of songs in remembrance of 1916 on Friday April 1st in the Ramble Inn, Abbeyfeale at our monthly singing session which takes place on the 1st Friday of every month.

Charity Céilí

A Charity Céilí will take place in the Rathkeale House Hotel on Friday, March 18th in aid of Down Syndrome Limerick. Music by Mountain Road.

The Gift of Music

Last Saturday night I accepted the kind invitation from Athea Wrenboys to attend their wren night at Mike Hayes’ rambling house in Fairy Street. Strange as it may seem, it is the first time I have been able to do so as I always seemed to be playing somewhere or was otherwise engaged. My grandson, Daniel, accompanied me (in every sense of the word) and I told him we would stay for a half hour or so. Well, the night was so good that it only seemed like half an hour but instead was over three! There were two sessions of music going on in two separate  rooms, one as good as the other. There were fiddles, flutes, accordions, banjos, guitars and of course, the mainstay of any wren night, bodhráns. There was no shortage of good singers either and , for the first time in years, a polka set took to the floor. As I joined in the music I thought of how lucky I was to have the privilege of playing with such great musicians and how magical a good session of Irish traditional music can be. It gets inside your very soul  and lifts you to a higher plain, better than any drink or drugs. How fortunate we are in this neck of the woods to have such great artists, especially the young ones who have  distinguished  themselves at county, provincial and All-Ireland levels. Everyone was enjoying themselves so well done to the wrenboys and long may they continue keeping up the old traditions. I got to thinking about music and what a great gift it is. It is a talent that is only granted to a few and should never be wasted or taken for granted. Like all innate talents, it has to be nurtured and developed and this takes many hours of practice  over the years. When I was teaching music there were two types of pupils that upset me for different reasons. One was the person with little talent who wanted so badly to play and would put in loads of practice. The other was the talented individual who wouldn’t put in the hard work. The first I felt very sorry for because, without the God given gift, he/she could only progress so far and no amount of practice would help to achieve the heights they yearned for. The second one made me frustrated to see such a waste. If we are chosen as recipients of such a gift we have an obligation to make the most of it, not only for ourselves but for the pleasure we can bring to others. Of course not everyone can be an All-Ireland champion but like in Gaelic  games, not every player gets to play for the county but there are thousands of players who get great pleasure playing for their local clubs every weekend. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t interested in music. Sometimes I can’t remember what happened yesterday but I have a vivid memory of when I was in the cot listening to the gramophone. This was pre radio and TV was as yet unheard of. The old gramophone,  “his master’s voice”, had to be wound up with a handle and the needle, on the end of an arm, was lowered on to the record that turned at an ever decreasing speed until it was wound up again. The records came from America and featured such greats as  Coleman, Killoran, Morrison, Patsy Tuohy, the Flanagan brothers and many more. The quality wasn’t great but I couldn’t get enough of it. I was about four when I got a mouth organ for my birthday. Like most young children I just kept blowing aimlessly into it at first until one day, while running along the top of the ditch between ourselves and Cusack’s, I suddenly realised that, inadvertently, I had played the first few notes of a tune that was popular on the radio at the time called “there’s a pawnshop round the corner in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania”.  I tried again and found a few more notes. I ran in home all excited to show my mother what I had discovered. That was the start and from that moment on I spent most of my spare time learning tunes. I graduated to the tin whistle shortly afterwards and learned the notes from Dave Connors in Knocknaboul. Dave’s son Mick, who was my own age and my best friend, learned with me. We would sit in front of Dave and he would show us where to put our fingers. At home, our cottage had a very small room off the back which we called the scullery. It wasn’t big enough to swing a cat in but I spent many an hour in there, sitting on a bag of turf, in the dark, behind the door, playing the whistle. I was about ten when I got my first accordion,  a brand new “Black Dot” Hohner, which cost 12 pounds and 12 shillings at Patie Roches’ in Abbeyfeale. The first thing I did the following morning was to try and work out a tune on the new instrument. This was way more difficult and, at first, I was frustrated that I couldn’t play the box as good as the whistle but I persevered and got a few tunes together. I didn’t realise at the time that I was on the wrong path and playing in the wrong keys but I knew something wasn’t right and I needed some professional help. My idols at the time were Pat Joe Gleeson, Colm Danagher and Timmy Woulfe who played at all the local wren nights so I plucked up courage and asked Colm if he would teach me the accordion. To my amazement he said “no”. I was taken aback until he explained that he was playing the same method as I was and he didn’t know how to play the chromatic two row. He suggested I go to somebody else, which I did.

To be continued next week.                                                                                                                    Domhnall de Barra