Sketch of Con Colbert Bust by sculptor Jarlath Daly

Sketch of Con Colbert Bust by sculptor Jarlath Daly

Athea to honour Con Colbert

Athea Community Council have commissioned a life-size bronze bust of Con Colbert, by sculptor Jarlath Daly from Kildare, that will be located in the centre of the village outside Griffin’s Butchers. It is 100 years since Con Colbert was executed for his part in the 1916 rising. We owe our freedom to him and his comrades who made the ultimate sacrifice on our behalf. It is fitting that Athea should commemorate the occasion with an image of Con Colbert that will be there for future generations to see and will help to keep his memory alive.

The overall cost will exceed €12,000.  The Community Council are appealing to the people of Athea to help them financially with this project and to that end a letter will be sent to each household and business in the parish containing an envelope for donations. Your generosity in this regard would be greatly appreciated.

The sculpture will be unveiled on Sunday, September 25th during the Con Colbert Memorial Weekend.   Athea will get very favourable exposure during this event and should be very good for business and tourism locally.

Saturday Night

I have noticed  a slight increase in the number of people in the village on Saturday nights lately. This is in contrast to the last few years when the place looked like a ghost town at midnight. It is nice to see people out enjoying themselves and I suppose it is a sign that things are improving and the bad old days are behind us. Saturday night is the main night for going out in most places but it was not always the case. In my young days Sunday night was the main night; Saturday night was reserved for other activities. Saturday was a working day, except for civil servants such as school teachers so all sporting activities were on Sunday.

The Sabbath Day was observed by all in those times and nobody worked unless they had to so people dressed up in their finest and attended church on Sunday morning. Much of Saturday evening was spent in preparation for this. The “Sunday clothes” had to be taken out of the wardrobe and “aired”. This was done by putting them across the backs of chairs before the turf fire. They had to be aired because dampness was to be found in most houses due to lack of proper heat and insulation. Walls were thick but very porous and it was easy for the rain to seep through. Of course there was no central heating and most of the houses had only one fireplace. For some unknown reason this fireplace was often on a gable wall furthest from the bedrooms. There was also a huge chimney which took most of the heat so very little got beyond the living room area. Bigger farmers houses had fireplaces in the rooms but these were only used if there were visitors staying, it was too expensive to keep them lit all the time.

Saturday night was the time for the weekly bath. Big pots of water were boiled and a tin bath was placed in front of the fire. The children were then washed in the tub, one by one starting with the youngest. Families were big in those days so if you happened to be the eldest the water might be cold and a bit coloured by the time your turn came. I don’t know how our parent’s managed it. I suppose they had a wash when we were all in bed. A woman once told how she washed herself. To preserve her modesty she washed down as far as possible, up as far as possible and when no one  was looking “possible” got a rub!. Those  were the days. Another chore on Saturday night was the polishing of shoes. These were of course the “Sunday” shoes which were worn to Mass and removed as soon as we got home. There would be a shine from them as they were lined up against the wall. For the men it was a night for shaving. Very few bothered to shave throughout the week and by the time Saturday came around there was a strong coat of beard which had to be removed with very primitive razors. This resulted in a few wounds which were covered with bits of newspaper. Some men preferred to go to the barbers to get the job done. They were experts at the game and guaranteed a smooth finish. One man had the misfortune to be shaved by an apprentice who was doing it for the first time. It didn’t help matters that the man was the local school master. The young lad was so nervous that he inflicted several nicks on the teacher’s  face. Each time he did so he put a piece of paper on the cut the stem the flow of blood.  The teacher said nothing and when he was finished he looked in the mirror to see his face festooned with newspaper. “How much do I owe you?” he asked, “ A shilling” was the reply. “you should get three”, he said, “because you did three different jobs; barbering, butchering and wallpapering.”

Once a month it was time for Confession. There was no escaping it as mother had the dates written down and you would get your marching orders. Going to Confession could take a long time in those days. There were long seats leading up to both  doors of the confessional and these were usually full of penitents.  As people emerged from the box you moved up one space until your turn came. At last the shutter went up and you said your piece hoping the priest was in a good mood and would not be too harsh with the penance. So there was very little social life on Saturdays but we made up for it on Sundays between sports, the Sunday dinner,  a few pints and the Sunday night dance at Tobin’s or some other magical ballroom. Yes, those were the days!

Domhnall de Barra