Athea Community Council and Athea Tidy Towns

have had the  Gazebo at the river bank re-roofed by Bill Mulvihill. The wood on the old roof had rotted over the years and it was decided that slate would be the best option. The Gazebo and the footbridge are very popular places for wedding photographs and its good to see people enjoying these facilities. The site where the gazebo is situated is dedicated to the memory of the late Pat Sweeney, a dedicated worker for Athea Community Council and whose 11th anniversary occurs on July 13th.

Munster Fleadh

All roads lead to Listowel this weekend for the Munster Fleadh Cheoil which is being held in the town for the first time. Listowel has fond memories for lovers of traditional music who flocked there for the fantastic All-Ireland Fleadhs that were held there in the  ‘seventies. Times have changed in recent years and the All-Ireland has got so big that Listowel is no longer able to cope with the amount of people looking for accommodation. It is the ideal size though for the Munster Fleadh so we are looking forward to a feast of music, song and dance that will bring back memories of the “good old days”

Athea Gun Club

There are still some insurance to come in so that we can get them away to get new insurances back by 30th July. A sum of €85 to be paid to Athea Gun Club a.s.a.p.

Contact Jerry Brouder, Ray Brouder or Ned Mahony for further information.

Fishing Style

Athea Fishing Club

Work is in progress at present in erecting stiles along our river to facilitate  anglers in getting from field to field and to and to make it easier to get over hazardous dykes and ditches.
In return this will help us with the on going problems of knocking down and damaging farmers  fences.
Two stiles have been erected to date between Connie O’Sullivan’s and John Leahy’s properties and the club would sincerely like to thank them in allowing us with our on going efforts..
With water levels being ever so low since the season opened, it was on Saturday 2nd July that we held our first competition.
This was for the MOSS FITZGERALD cup, kindly sponsored by SEAN FITZGERALD, of Batt’s Bar.
Fishing was good and a large amountt of trout were returned for weigh in.
1st Place—SEAN WALL.
On Saturday 6th August we are off to BALLYHASS LAKE, near Mallow, for our long awaited mixed competition. Bus will leave village at 11 am and anyone over 18 can enter. Remember you MUST HAVE A PERMIT..
This has always been a great day out. More details can be had from ANN SHEAHAN @ 087 1415487.Ladies and gents get ye’re gear ready for BALLYHASS.

End of an Era

Athea got some bad news in the past week when the forthcoming reshuffle of priests in the Limerick Diocese was announced.  Fr. Bowen is going to be leaving us and unfortunately will not be replaced in the parish. In the future we will be covered by  Abbeyfeale with no priest living in the parish. To all intents and purposes we are now in the parish of Abbeyfeale. Time was when every parish, big or small, had at least two priests to look after the congregation but just like the rural Gardaí, that day is well and truly gone. Times have changed dramatically in the past couple of decades with a big decline in the number of vocations to the priesthood. There just aren’t enough to go around so parishes have to be amalgamated. In the past, families were much larger than they are today and it was not uncommon for one son or daughter to be sent away to be trained as priests, brothers or nuns. It was a proud boast to have a priest in the family and there was great rejoicing when somebody was finally ordained and said their first Mass.  That also created a problem for some people who found themselves in seminaries and though they knew after a while that the life was not for them, they persevered and became priests because they did not want to leave their families down. The stigma of the “spoilt priest” was a terrible thing in bygone days. In recent years families are much smaller and there isn’t the same  appeal as before for parents to have their sons ordained.

There is also a big drop off in the numbers of Catholics who are actually practicing their faith. Time was when almost every family in the parish went to Mass on Sunday but the numbers have been going down steadily and the future does not look good for the church if the trend continues. Many of the younger generations find the Church out of step, old-fashioned  and of no relevance to their lives. The abuse of children by the religious organisations has not helped matters either. It puts the validity of vocations into question. As one man said to me; “if a vocation is really a calling from God, why did He choose the likes of Fr. Smyth?”  When scandals occur, a bad apple tends to rot the whole barrel. This is unfair as the vast majority of priests are genuine, hard working people who try their best to help their parishioners in every way possible. Now they have an even bigger workload and I don’t envy them trying to cover the huge areas they now have under their control. Has the Church gone wrong and , if so, what can be done to put it back on track?. I am no expert and I’m just lucky that I can use this space each week to air my views so I will humbly offer an opinion which I hope will be taken in the right spirit.

Firstly I think priests should be allowed to marry. Celibacy is not a natural state for the human being and I think they would be far more in touch with families and their problems if they had personal experience. There is nothing to prevent this except the will of aged men who want to maintain the status quo. In the early days of the church marriage was not a problem and in some cases it is not today either. When my aunt Nora died in Coventry a couple of years ago the priest who said her Requiem Mass was a married man. He had converted from the Church of England and was allowed to maintain his marital status. If it is ok for him why not for all the others?.


Secondly, I believe the women should be ordained as well. Let’s face it, they are far more capable than men at organising and multi-tasking. They also have the maternal instinct  that makes them great carers. When we were younger and in trouble, who did we run to for help; our father or our mother. Our mother of course.  Other religions have no problem with women priests and I think it would breathe new life into the church.

With the inclusion of married men and women priests we might once again have enough vocations to fill all the vacancies in our parishes and restore what has been part and parcel of our  way of life. If the parish identity goes, rural life as we know it goes.  If changes do not occur, the day is coming when there will be no church in Athea and the faithful will have to travel to the nearest big town for Mass and the sacraments. I hope that never happens  so we should pray that the Church reinvents itself and comes forward into the 21st century with all its trials and problems.

Domhnall de Barra