Athea Vintage Club

Charity Car and Tractor Road Run in aid of The Butterfly Club – West Limerick Branch. Being held on Sunday 12th June 2016 in Athea Co Limerick.

Participants gathering at Brown Joe’s Bar Athea village at 1pm.

Trad Music session will follow after road run. Please support this worthy cause.

For more information please contact Francie on 087-6666850


The 2016 Census of Population will be held on Sunday, April 24th.  Over the coming weeks your Census Form will be personally delivered to your home and every person in Ireland, including visitors, on that night is obliged to complete it.  All Census Enumerators carry ID.  When you fill in your census form on this night, you’re giving information that will help to understand what Ireland needs for the future.


Well-known Irish Trad band ‘Four men and a Dog’ are launching a new Album in St Johns Arts Theatre, Listowel on Thursday, April 7. This is to celebrate 25 years on the road. The band features Abbeyfeale accordion player, Donal Murphy, Cathal & Stephen Hayden banjo & fiddles, Kevin Doherty vocals/guitar & frontman Gino Lupari bodhran/vocals. The new album entitled “And the band played on” features the usual “Dog” mix of Irish trad tunes, country, blues and rock and roll. Tickets are available from Joe @ St Johns on 068 22566. Pre booked tickets are advised as this is sure to be a sell-out. Date: Thurs. April 7th, Doors 7:30pm

The Way we Were

I was thinking the other day about the many changes that have taken place in such a short time and some of the skills and pastimes we have almost lost. One of these is the art of “lilting”. Lilting, dideling or “pus music”, whatever you want to call it, was very popular and maybe necessary sometimes in days gone by. The oldest musical instrument is the human voice. In the days when musical instruments were scarce or too expensive, people would lilt tunes for dancers at the rambling houses which were the only centres of entertainment prior to dancehalls and cinemas. Many of the polkas and slides we play today come from old songs that were first sung and then lilted for dancing. “I’ll tell me ma” springs to mind as does “Maggie in the wood”, “Do bhíos Lá i bPortláirge”, “I wish I had a Kerry Cow” – the list is endless. Lilting wasn’t confined to the rambling houses. People going the road on foot, bicycles or in horse carts could be heard lilting away to pass the time. There were several different styles of lilting. Some lilters tried to reproduce the sound of a particular instrument such as the banjo or fiddle while others embellished their renderings with lots of ornamentation and lots of “skiderydoos”. Some had a great store of tunes they could reproduce. My father was one of those. Although he never learned to play an instrument, he had a deep knowledge of music and would often tell me if I was playing the wrong note. Another man with lots of tunes in his head was our neighbour Donie Cusack who gave many years as the Creamery Manager in Glin. On one occasion My father and Donie were coming home from Tipperary. They had taken a load of turf to Donie’s aunt who lived down there and after stopping for some refreshment in a bar in Kilmallock, had a bet as to which of them could didle the most reels between there and Abbeyfeale (they couldn’t pass Abnbeyfeale and take the curse of the town with them!). They took turns and lilted away, never repeating a tune. Nobody won the bet because Abbeyfeale came before any of the two had exhausted their repertoire so they agreed to an honourable draw!.

Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éirerwann has a competition for lilting in the Fleadhs and it is hoped that it will encourage more young people to take up the art. There is also a competition for whistling, another dying art. Just as many people whistled as lilted, some with great volume and ornamentation. I well remember one gentleman who was famous for his whistling. He worked at Sheehy’s in Cratloe when I was young and it was a joy to hear him whistling as he cycled to Mass in Athea on Sunday. You could hear him from a long way off, coming through Cratloe Glen and it was a wonderful sound. I’m not sure of his name, I think it was McMahon but we all knew him as “The Bird”. There was another man in Knocknaboul who had a very loud whistle which could be heard in the next parish. He used to go to work very early in the morning during the Summer and started off his day whistling to his heart’s content. At the corner of his bothrín lived a man who was quite the opposite. He was more of a night owl and would not be long in bed when the whistler would pass by and wake him up. Needless to say he wasn’t too pleased with this carry on and when it happened one time too many he vowed vengeance. The following morning was a fine June morning so instead of going to bed about 5.30 as usual he stayed up for the extra hour and waited. Sure enough, at 6.30 the whistling started so he waited by the corner of the house and as the whistler was passing he rushed out and hit him in the mouth with his fist, splitting his lip. “Whistle now, you bastard” he shouted as he withdrew to his bed. People from the locality will by now have worked out the identities of the two but I am saying nothing!  From then on the whistling didn’t start until he was well past the corner and peace was restored.

I don’t think we are ever going to return to those days; time moves on but it is nice to remember them and some of the good things that happened. I have great fears for the young generation of today going into the future. They are constantly on some kind of tablet or phone or games console. They invariably have earphones or plugs because they can’t do anything without what passes for music being blasted into their ears. Will they all go deaf before middle age? Will they lose the art of conversation as they have already lost the ability to write properly?  Maybe not, after all I am only an old fuddy duddy who knows nothing, just as I thought my parents and grandparents knew nothing long ago. Let them enjoy their way of living which has its own advantages as well and leave me to my memories of times that, though hard, were very rewarding.




Domhnall de Barra