Remembering Gerry Griffin

Now and then I take the pen to write a verse or two

But this time Gerry it is especially for you

You were our friend and neighbour

who resided on the hill

Now the years have come and gone

and the “wheel of life” stands still.

Always there to lend or share to either big or small

And if we ever needed all we had to do was call

A man of taste and talents though no means not a few

Even the tricky things in life were no trouble onto you.

So with your passing comes the end of another era

No more we’ll see you driving by

in your green Almera

May God be with you Gerry,

your likes are hard to find

You’ll be missed in Glenagragra

by those you left behind.

Patrick Langan

18th December 2016


Tom O'Keeffe, Angeline O'Donnell & Nora Hunt

Tom O’Keeffe, Angeline O’Donnell & Nora Hunt at the Drama Group Christmas Party in the Devon Inn Hotel

Declan O'Carroll, Roger Ryan & Lal Browne

Declan O’Carroll, Roger Ryan & Lal Browne at the Drama Group Christmas Party

Lal Browne, Amina Parkes & Tom O'Keeffe at the Drama Group Christmas Party

Lal Browne, Amina Parkes & Tom O’Keeffe at the Drama Group Christmas Party

Ellen Quille, Annette O'Donnell & Damien Ahern

Ellen Quille, Annette O’Donnell & Damien Ahern at the Drama Group Christmas Party

Christmas Eve Mass

Christmas Eve Mass will be at 7.30pm on this Saturday night preceded by some lovely carol singing by both the adults and schoolchildren’s choirs, so come early.

Noonan’s Lights

Congratulations to Tony, Hannah and Siobhan who won the countrywide Energia competition top prize of €4,000 to add to their charities collection.

The Monthly Ladies Night Out

The first New Year Monthly night out will fall on January 6th, Women’s Little Christmas, with lots of food and drink, fun and games.

Athea & District Credit Union

The office will close at 12.30pm as normal on Friday 23rd December. We will re-open again on Tuesday 3rd January at 6.30pm.

Winner of the first draw was John Paul Stack, Park.

Winner of the second draw was Mike & Joan Kennelly, Kilmorna.

We would like to wish all our members and staff a very Happy Christmas and a Prosperous New Year.

Coming Home for Christmas

I took a walk along the old railway line in Abbeyfeale lately and as I walked upon the track I couldn’t help thinking about all the people who had travelled on the same line in the days when the steam train chugged its way to Limerick and back. I remembered my own journeys on that train, going to and coming from England. There was something special about steam trains. You could hear them coming for miles and then the beats of the engine became less frequent until the train pulled up in a cloud of steam and smoke. The smoke had a really strong, but not unpleasant, smell and it enveloped the whole station. One of the best times was coming home for Christmas. Back in the middle of the last century almost every home in the parish had a family member or more working in England. Most of them came home once a year, the married ones in the summer time but the single ones usually opted for Christmas. The Christmas mood started about the end of October when minds were made up to go home for Christmas. The lads who frequented the pubs every night  gave up the beer on the first of November to put a bit of money together. You couldn’t arrive home if you hadn’t a wad of money to spend. It was vital to give the impression that you were doing well. New clothes, in the latest fashion, were purchased and shoes with a shine that could blind. As soon as work broke up, a couple of days before Christmas people could be seen, in all the major towns in Britain, heading for the train station with brown suitcases in their hands. There was no such thing as fancy luggage in those days. The brown case was the only one available. Some of them were a bit the worse for wear and had to be held together with a piece of rope or a leather strap. Anyway, they did the job and carried the essentials for the travellers. I used to leave  from Coventry station and take the train to Rugby where we had to wait for an hour or so to catch the northern train from London. This took us to Crewe where we boarded the boat train to Hollyhead. The train pulled right up to the ship for Dunlaoghaire so it was just a matter of walking up the gangway and finding a place to sit. This was no luxury liner. It was used mainly for transporting cattle so the accommodation was very primitive. There was a bar though and as the Christmas spirit kicked in it did a lively trade. That was great for a while but when the seas were choppy, drinking wasn’t a very good idea. It was not uncommon to see people getting sick all over the place. God, I hated that boat and couldn’t wait to arrive in Ireland to get the train to Kingsbridge (now called Heuston) station.  The Cork train was boarded which took us to Ballybrophy or Limerick Junction where we changed for Limerick. Then came the last leg of the journey, the train to Abbeyfeale. By this time we would have been travelling for almost 24 hours, some with hangovers and others recovering from the sea sickness but the nearer we got to home the better we felt. As the train struggled to climb Barna hill, a sense of anticipation took over and everybody perked up. Having crawled over the top of the hill, through the tunnel, the train began to gather speed and flew along to Devon Road. This was the last stop so we gathered our belongings and were waiting at the doors as the train chugged into Abbeyfeale. The platform was usually full of people eagerly waiting to welcome sons, daughters, husbands, fathers  they hadn’t seen for at least a year. There was a lot of tears and fond embraces but it was a most joyous scene. It was the custom at the time to have a drink at the Railway Bar before heading for home. Sean Sullivan might be playing a few tunes on the melodeon and when we had our first sip from a frothy pint of real Guinness it was like heaven. The road home brought back memories of the people who lived in the houses and the days passing them on the way to school. It was a great feeling to be back in Ireland and at home. There was a great welcome from the family and the eyes of the little ones lit up when the old suitcase was opened and the presents were given out. For a while at least the world was a nice place to live in as peace and goodwill prevailed. Before too long it was time for midnight Mass  where everyone met outside the door and wished each other a merry Christmas. It was all over too soon and we had to take the train back again feeling very empty and lonely at the thought of being away for another year. But we had our memories and they kept us going in the factories, tunnels and building sites. Roll on next Christmas when we will take that train again

Domhnall de Barra