'Black Bank Folk' who are performing on Saturday evening at 8 pm in the Hall

‘Black Bank Folk’ who are performing on Saturday evening at 8 pm in the Hall

Con Colbert Commemoration Weekend

Saturday & Sunday September 24th & 25th

The Athea Community will honour Con Colbert with a Commemoration Weekend this Saturday & Sunday, September 24th and 25th. Events will kick off on Saturday at 2pm at Pairc na nGael with a football blitz ‘Athea vs Castlemahon’ and an over 35s football match. At 8pm there will be a free concert at the Con Colbert Hall with ‘Black Bank Folk’ – a compelling new addition to the Irish music scene mixing elements of indie and country into their take on Irish folk. John Colbert, who is a member of this band, is a great grand nephew to Con Colbert. Limited seating available and doors open at 7pm. On Sunday at 12.30 there will be a talk on the life of Con Colbert at Athea National School by Jamie Kelly and after this Athea Community Council will unveil a magnificent bronze bust sculpture on the grounds of Con Colbert Hall. This will be followed by refreshments and music at the Top of the Town Bar. Come along to honour Athea’s greatest son.

Athea Horse & Pony Races

There will be a video race night on Saturday, September 24th in The Top of the Town Bar followed by horse and pony racing at the farm of Helen and Michael O’Keeffe in Glenagore on Sunday, September 25th starting at 1pm sharp.  All proceeds to Milford Hospice.  Further information Chairman Sean King 087 2678439.

Athea GAA

Progressive 41 Drive Card Game

Starting at Brown Joe’s Bar on Monday, October 3rd at 9pm sharp. 2 x 3’s. Cards are good for the brain so all are welcome to come along. 


To Breda Hayes who on last Thursday night in the Gresham Hotel in Dublin was presented with the award as Practice Manager of the Year at the inaugural annual GP Buddy Awards ceremony. She is delighted and got a glass plaque.

Music Class

A traditional music class, catering for different instruments, will commence on Tuesday, Oct. 4th in the hall kitchen (side entrance) at 6.00pm. As this is a Comhaltas class and will be covered by Comhaltas insurance, membership of the organisation is essential.  Registration will take place on Tuesday night next at the same venue at 7.00 pm. Membership of Athea Comhaltas branch is €6 for a junior and €20 for a whole family. The class will be conducted by Brian Scannell, from Abbeyfeale, who is well known for his playing with the group “Sound as a Pound”

Not as good as we think

The recent revelation that our universities have once again slipped down the world ratings is worrying. Once upon a time our educational institutions were the envy of the world and students came from all over the world to study here. Not anymore and though it is easy to criticise we must look for reasons for this decline and try to arrest it.  There are many reasons but the scarcity of resources has to be top of the list. Per capita, we put less into our education system than most other countries. The politicians will point to the fact that we have been recovering from bankruptcy for the past few years and could not afford to put the necessary resources into our schools and colleges but they were underfunded even when, to quote Mary Harney, the country was awash with money. Teachers are at their wits end trying to cope with classes of thirty or more pupils. It is impossible to give individual attention in classes of this size and those who just need a little extra help will be left behind. The same applies to our secondary schools and universities. If we do not invest in education, the future is bleak. Once upon a time it was ok to leave school at 14 years of age and later it was considered an achievement to have the Leaving cert but now it is vitally important to get a good third level education if we hope to have a bright future.

We seem to mismanage our resources on a continuing basis. Just look at the health service. It is bursting at the seams because there are not enough professionals employed to look after the numbers of patients looking for attention. The HSE are trying to recruit nurses, doctors and other health care professionals without any great success. Rates of pay are a big problem with other countries offering far more money but I think it is the working conditions that are the biggest problem. If you have the misfortune to go to an A & E unit at the moment you will be faced with a very long wait and eventually you may be seen by a doctor who has been on duty for over 24 hours. How can we expect people to work in these conditions?  It is also dangerous in the extreme because no human being is capable of giving 100%  after that many hours on duty.  This is not the fault of any particular government – they are all to blame. Governments are made up of people who depend on popularity to be re-elected so they do not tend to make unpopular decisions. Nobody had the bottle to take on the unions who protected the jobs of managers who were surplus to requirements after the HSE was established to take over from the health boards. Nobody took on the consultants who are not shy about feathering their own nests from the public purse while working privately as well and nobody has challenged the overcharging by hospitals to health insurance companies for beds and procedures.

The present government hasn’t a hope because they are already preparing for the next election which, by the look of things, won’t be far off. To fund our institutions and departments we need a solid tax base that is not relying on revenue that is dependant on the building industry or some other source that may dry up at any moment. It is prudent then to broaden the tax break and have sustainable taxes like the household charge and the water charge. If water is not paid for by a specific tax it will have to come out of the public purse which is not so full at the moment no matter what “fiscal space” we hear about.

The fact is our politicians haven’t got the guts to take on the protesters, who are inflamed by a few rabble-rousers who also happen to be T.D.s, and enforce the water charges. Exceptions can be made for those who genuinely cannot afford to pay but the rest of us have a duty to obey the law.  Fianna Fáil have now said they want the water charges abolished. This is simply a ploy to get more seats in the next election and has nothing to do with good management.  Any government that depends on the votes of independents is in a precarious  position because they cannot pursue their own policies. We need a strong government who will be able to make the unpopular decisions in the interest of the country. Only then will we be able to address the shortcomings in the health service and the underfunding of our education system. We need to stop telling ourselves we are the best in the world – we are far from it. By accepting that we are a small, almost bankrupt island on the fringe of  as Europe that is in danger of disintegrating, we can move forward, cut according to our cloth and provide a future for those to come.

Domhnall de Barra