Rachel presentations 3

Rachel presentations 1

Rachel presentations 2

Rachel making the presentations to Liz O’Sullivan, Athea Ladies Football, Damien Ahern, Athea Tidy Towns

 and Athea Basketball

Athea Festival Queen shares her Prize Money with local groups

A huge thanks to the Festival Committee for all their hard work and dedication and for providing Athea with a weekend to remember, full of laughter and fun. I was truly honoured to be selected as Athea Festival Queen 2016, especially when representing Griffin Butchers for my Dad and enjoying the experience with such a lovely and fantastic bunch of girls. I would like to share out my prize money with two clubs that I have been involved in; Athea Basketball and Athea Ladies Football and finally a wonderful organisation; Athea Tidy Towns who work to make our little village beautiful. Thanks again to everyone and I wish continued success to the Festival Committee.

Rachel Griffin

Taking it for granted

What would we talk about if we didn’t have the weather?  Hard to tell because it seems to dominate the opening to all our conversations, whether good or bad. The one thing that is predictable about our weather is it’s unpredictability. We are lucky if we get a couple of weeks and if these come at the right time of the year to accommodate turf, silage and hay, we are happy enough.  This summer has been very mixed but we have had no great extremes. Yes it rained but not to the extent that we had big floods or damage. Of course we would love to have sunshine all the time but if we had we wouldn’t have the green grass. Every place would be brown like Portugal and the other tourist spots to the south. And, if we did have guaranteed sunny summers our little country would be overrun by tourists and we would probably have to change our whole way of life. This would happen because Ireland is one of the most beautiful countries in the world with diverse scenery from mountains to glens, to boglands, forests and of course the greenest grassland in the world.

We have the friendliest people  who have a great welcome for strangers (though this may be changing slightly!) and, in general, we have a laid back attitude that contrasts with the rat race in the bigger cities in the world. We are a sporting and cultural nation and have consistently punched above our weight in international competitions. Our boxers, athletes, rugby players, soccer players and many other sporting heroes have done Ireland proud when one considers that we are only a tiny island on the fringe of Europe competing against vast nations.

We are steeped in culture and we are one of the few countries that have succeeded in keeping our traditional music, song and dance alive, thanks to the efforts of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann and the emergence of River Dance. In this we are the envy of other countries who have lost theirs. Our artists, painters, sculptors etc, have achieved world-wide recognition for their works as have our writers and novelists. Some of the best known actors are from Ireland and we are now producing films to equal the very best. Our musicians, singers and bands are household names in other countries as well as at home. We produce the best food in the world, something we could not do if it were not for the rain and our business people have been more than successful. Our own native games are second to none, although if Gaelic football does not change soon I may have to think again about that. Hurling however is without doubt one of the fastest, most skilful games anywhere. Anyone who watched the match between Waterford and Kilkenny on Sunday 7th August will know what I am talking about. The skill of these amateur athletes is remarkable. Where else would one see a ball being lifted from the ground by a hurler running at full pace, or catching a high ball with one hand in the midst of flashing hurleys?  Golfers will stand for ages over a chip from inside 100 yards and won’t always reach the target yet we see a hurler, running at full belt along the sideline, hit a ball between the posts despite the attention of opposing backs; mind-blowing.

Yes, we have a lot to be proud of and a lot we take for granted. When I was young I never really noticed my surroundings. My father sold turf for a living so every summer was spent in the bog. Much of the turf was cut at the top of the Cnokeens behind Patsy Ahern’s house. On a clear day the view from the top of the hill was breath taking. On one side the Cork and Kerry mountains could be seen and all the country in between. On the other side, overlooking the Clash valley, the rolling hills of West Limerick levelled out to the majestic Shannon as it made its way to the ocean through the lush pastureland of North Kerry. One could view the county of Clare across the river and swing around to take in parts of Tipperary in all its splendour.  Of course it was all lost on me and taken for granted until I left home to live in many foreign countries. I was happy enough in most of those but my heart was always in Athea and I longed to return to the  place I call home; the greatest place on earth. We shouldn’t let the bad weather get us down, just hope we get enough sunshine for the harvest and be thankful for what we have and never take it for granted. You never miss the water until the well runs dry!

Domhnall de Barra