Sr. Rosarii O’Sullivan

Celebrating her Platinum Jubilee, Sr. Rosarii O’Sullivan, a native of Upper Dirreen, Athea is a sister of the late Mary Dalton and Dr. Liam O’Sullivan. Having qualified with a National Teacher Certificate and Diploma from Mary Immaculate College, Limerick, she entered Our Lady of Apostles, Ardfoyle in 1944.

Sr. Rosarii made her religious profession seventy years ago. On entering O.L.A. she completed a BA in UCC. On the 21st November 1951 she went to join her sister Liam, also an O.L.A. sister in Nigeria. She lived and worked in Northern Nigeria for fifteen years, teaching and teacher training in Kaduna, Agbor, Akwanga and Shendam until she came back to Ireland in 1968 to assume leadership as Provincial Superior. She returned to Nigeria in 1973 and spent another twenty years between Kaduna, Jos, Asaba, Barakin-Ladi and Zawan, teaching as well as working in religious formation and in religious education. After one year working in the archives in Rome, she returned to Ardfoyle in 1994 and offered various services both in the province and in the community. Sr. Rosarii celebrated her 97th birthday on Tuesday 28th March.

Marie Keating Foundation

We (at O’Riordan’s Pharmacy) have asked the Marie Keating Foundation to Athea and they have agreed to bring their mobile unit on Friday 7th April between 11am and 3pm. The unit has a specialist nurse to provide information and answer any questions or worries that people may have about cancer. The service is free and no appointment is necessary. It would be great if we could get the word out and get as many people to attend as possible as it is difficult to get them to come as they are so busy.  

Knockdown Vintage Club

Knockdown Vintage Cub, with the assistance of Estuary Macra, are holding a Raffle and Vintage/Modern Charity Run on Sunday, April 2nd at The Knockdown Arms. A number of local causes have been selected to be the beneficiaries of our 2017 fundraising event. These are to include the elderly, school children and local community groups/charities. Tickets on sale at €2 each or 3 for €5 with 1st Prize-€100 Hamper, 2nd Prize-€75 cash, 3rd Prize-€50 Fuel Voucher and numerous other spot prizes.

Athea Tidy Towns Fundraising Fashion Show

Dedicated followers of fashion will be in for a real treat in April as the Athea Tidy Towns Group hosts another fundraising fashion show to aid of vital work in the village. A highlight of the social calendar in Athea in previous years, this year’s show has been set for Wednesday, April 12th at 8pm, with the Con Colbert Hall once again providing the perfect setting for the event. The show itself will showcase the latest trends (Men’s, Women’s and Children’s) from all the top boutiques from West Limerick and North

Kerry, and will be preceded by a cheese and wine reception. Judges will also be on the lookout for the best dressed lady on the night, with some lovely prizes up for grabs. Tickets will be on sale at Brouder’s Shop and Collins’ Shop, Athea and are priced at just €10.  For further information contact 087 9042477

Things Change

Times are always changing but I think my generation have lived through the greatest transformation the planet has ever seen. It is hard to believe that when I was born there was no electricity in most of rural Ireland. This meant all tasks had to be accomplished by hand or with the crudest of machinery. There was no water on tap. Rain water was collected in a concrete trough under a drainpipe at the gable end of the house and water for drinking was drawn from the spring well.  Each house did not have its own well and it was common for neighbours to call to those who had one for the daily bucket, or gallon, as the case may be. We had a very good well at the bottom of the “garden” as we called it. All the neighbours used it and, from this time of year on, it was in great demand by people going up to the bog. They all called to fill the gallon with enough water for the kettle which was boiled over a turf fire in the bog hole. That well never ran dry no matter how the weather was, in fact when there was a lengthy dry spell the water got higher which, the old people said, was the sign of a real spring. Without piped water there were no toilets and people had to make do with shady spots out doors, not so nice on a frosty morning!

Families were big in those days and wash day, usually Monday, was quite an ordeal. Water had to be drawn from the trough or, in dry weather, from some local “spout”. The spout was a piece of pipe that carried water from a drain inside to the outside of the ditch and provided a constant flow. There was one of those on the roadside opposite Cusack’s house and that is where we drew our water from. Water had to be boiled in big pots over the fire and then transferred to a tin bath. A washboard was placed in the bath and the clothes would be spread over it and lathered with common soap before being rinsed, squeezed out and hung on a line to dry. It was hard work and totally dependant on the weather.

There were no cars or tractors in those days  so horses and donkeys were used to pull carts, ploughs, rakes and other farm machinery. The ass was usually the one to pull the milk cart to the creamery. One of the hardest jobs was catching the ass in the morning. They can be very stubborn but cunning as well. If they didn’t feel inclined to be caught the job could take some time. It wasn’t too bad if they were in a field but sometimes they would be on the road grazing the “long acre” as they called it. It was the practice in those days for people who hadn’t much grass to let cows, asses and ponies graze along the road.  Many a prayer was said for the wandering ass  in the morning. After eventually getting the animal into captivity the harness had to be put on and the cart attached.

Milking was done by hand  and poured into tankards that were placed in the cart for delivery to the creamery. No milk lorries calling to farms in those days.  Most of the work was done by hand and great credit is due to the men and women who toiled so hard to make a future for us.

Education was very limited as well. Most people left school at the age of fourteen, not that they were in attendance all the time before that. As soon as they got big enough they were needed for the bog and the meadow and much more. The wealthier sent their children to secondary schools which were fee paying at the time but that was outside the scope of most people in a time, after the war, when things were not so good and money was scarce.

That then was the kind of world I was born into and indeed it was a world that hadn’t changed so much for hundreds of years. Then came electricity and it changed everything. There was the light to start with. Gone were the candles, oil lamps and “tillys” and, for the first time, we had decent light at night. Electric appliances followed swiftly; the iron, washing machine, cooker etc making life that much easier for everyone. At the same time the tractor made its appearance and before too long the motor car could be seen in front of most homes. Radio and television brought the world into our homes and the advent of free education gave everyone the opportunity to go to secondary school and on to third level. Technology began to really advance and soon we had devoices to do everything. We now got to the stage where we were able to send men to the Moon and back.

Now, I sit and watch a match that may be being played in Australia without even thinking about it. I can chat to my son in America on Skype — what a change from sending a letter that would take over a week to reach America. Where is it all going to end? I don’t know but I consider myself very privileged  to have lived through the most exciting time the world has ever seen.

Domhnall de Barra

Germany 1992-1995

Fr. Brendan Duggan 

After the unification of Germany in 1989 our Holy Ghost Fathers (Spiritans) in West Germany asked for volunteers to open a new foundation in the former “Deutsche Demokratishe Republic (or DDR), which had become a Russian Puppet State in 1945. We were invited to take over a parish in Rostock on the Baltic coast. Rostock had about 400,000 inhabitants, with a famous University , and was a good port also. In the Middle Ages Rostock had been a member of the Hanseatic League of seaside river ports. East Germany was about 90% Atheist, 9% Lutheran and 1% Catholic. Raymond Maher and myself were two of a small group with two German Spiritans.

I arrived in Germany in September 1992 and I attended a Language School in Cologne for four months. I was a beginner in German and I found it a bit daunting as I was 45 years old. Middle-aged people do not learn a language as easily as a teenager or young adult, as so many migrants have found when they live in a new country. I got some good insights into the German psyche. Young Germans have a huge shame complex because of what their families did to people during the last war. I was told at the language school in Koln about a girl student who discovered by chance that her grandfather had been an S.S. solider in Auschwitz. From that moment her grandfather ceased to exist for her. She was so devastated and ashamed. One can understand the sympathies Germans have for the State of Israel. In the light of ISIS I can’t see many Germans being sympathetic to Moslems even though the German Federal Republic has taken in about 1,000,000 refugees from the Near East.

When I finally arrived in Rostock I was installed as Pfarrer  (Pastor). My salary was 5800 German Marks/month=2800$. So I was earning about twice the salary of a U.S. priest. In Germany, to practice as a Catholic or Lutheran one had to pay an extra 9% of your total taxation. The Church in Germany before the Unification in 1989 was filthy rich. The Archdiocese of Cologne (Koln) used to give the Vatican 60 million Marks a year which was probably equal to the whole contribution of the U.S. Church. The 9% extra taxation was collected by the State which deducted 2% for the collecting. I remember the Bishop of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, our Bishop in Rostock, once complaining that he had only 45,000,000 Marks to run his Diocese of about 23 parishes. I am sure our Bishop in Limerick would have been envious. In Rostock when we had to do a big job in the Church we were given 95% of the total cost from “Aid to the Church in Need” and we had only to raise about 10,000 Marks.

My parish had about 300 people who attended church on Sunday. They sang beautifully and one choir had a mini orchestra of Cello, French Horn, Piano and Clarinet. Germany has a high culture and our hymns in German were part of a 300 year music tradition.

In the parish I had no one to help me with the nitty, gritty of preaching and instructing the teenage children for Confirmation. I found it rather daunting to teach teenagers about Confirmation through my halting German. One of the teens I taught was not baptised so I had the privilege of baptising her on Holy Saturday night. In fact it was in Rostock that I met my first real Atheist. This girl, of Lutheran tradition, had been reared as an Atheist, had never heard of God, the Bible etc but was a very good living person and hugely intelligent. Most Germans were either Cultural Catholics or Lutherans