Joe Aherne after finishing the J.F.K. 50 mile challenge walk in Sneem on May 20th. Started at 5 o’clock in the morning and finished at 8.30 in the evening. He did the walk in 15½ hours. Next 50 mile challenge is on June 10th in Moylagh, Co. Meath.

Peg and Jim Prendeville at Sydney harbour bridge


The festival committee would like to thank all who have supported the festival over the last few years. We are conscious that the last year has seen a lot of demands made of the same people in the form of sponsorship, donations and time by numerous other worthy causes. Because of this we have decided that we will not hold a festival this year. We will however have a fund raising event on Friday 2nd June at the Top of the Top with ‘No Direction’ providing the music, and all support will be greatly appreciated. This will allow us to come back next year with a bigger and better festival. To help us in this we would invite anybody who can, to give us a hand to organise next year’s festival. We have been relying on the same few old faithfuls for the last few years and it would be great to have a few new faces and ideas on board.

Basic Internet Skills Training

Free Basic Internet Skills 10 Hour Training Programme coming to Athea Library in September/October.  Topics covered include introduction to the internet, internet safety & security, email, search engines etc. This course is open to everyone and will be the first training course to be held in the newly refurbished library. For further information or to book a place contact Damien Ahern on 087 9042477.

Athea Fine Gael Church Gate Collection

The Annual Fine Gael church gate collection will be held this weekend at all masses. Your support is greatly appreciated.

Grand Céilí

John Joe Tierney will be holding a grand fund-raising Céilí at the Hall on this Saturday night, June 3rd at 9.30pm. This is a fund-raiser for the hall, organised by John Joe and your attendance would be greatly appreciated. There will be spot prizes etc on the night. Come along for a great night.

A Modern Custom?

Domhnall de Barra

I was thinking lately about domestic pets and how long the custom of keeping them has bee in existence. Nobody really knows but it certainly goes back thousands of years since the first animals were domesticated. I suppose most of these were not really pets but were tamed to help human beings. Horses worked on the land, cows gave milk and the hides produced clothing.  Pigs, goats, hens, duck, geese, turkeys etc were also vital to human survival. Up to recently in Ireland there weren’t any “pets” as such. Each animal had a function and a reason for being kept on the farm or in the household. The most common pets, cats and dogs, had to work for a living. The cat was there to keep down the mice. A terrier’s job was to catch rats and other vermin and a sheepdog was essential for controlling cattle. A greyhound was often kept for sport  on a Sunday when they were taken to hunt hares and rabbits on the mountain. Gradually a bond was created between man and beast and people started to keep pets as comforting companions. They relieve stress and loneliness and can be a great help in keeping us healthy. Today pets are a big business with shops displaying a variety of pets at all kinds of prices. There are also the accessories for your pet and of course special food. Kennels have sprung up that will look after your pet while you are away from home. In some cities people make a living as dog walkers. They provide a good service for those who may be old or infirm. Then there is the vet’s bills. Between vaccinations and regular health checks, keeping a pet can be a costly exercise.

Dogs and cats may be the most common but some people keep fish, turtles, snakes and other more exotic types. Not so long ago songbirds were captured and held in cages. You can still have birds like budgies, parrots etc but, thankfully, the imprisonment of beautiful songbirds has stopped. It was cruel to deprive these wild creatures of their freedom. They don’t need to be put in cages to enjoy them. If you put out food for them in the back yard they will stay around and you can see them in all their glory and hear their musical warbling from dawn to dusk. Robins will even come into the house if the door is left open. Birds or animals should never be deprived of their freedom. Dogs and cats were never meant to live indoors so I think it is a little cruel and selfish of people who keep them in flats or city houses where they don’t have an opportunity to run around and exercise themselves. I am not saying that if you live in an urban area you should not keep dogs or cats but, if you do, you must be prepared to take them for long walks on a regular basis and never leave them alone for too long. Most people are sensible about this but  there are some who have taken keeping a pet to the extreme. I am referring to the “toy dog” craze where young(ish) women, mostly celebrities, keep miniature dogs in their handbags. These little dogs are dressed up in suits and have their hair styled. They have birthday parties and even go on to be “married” with a big wedding celebration. This is surely not right and is abuse of the animal whose natural instinct is to roam free.

On the other side, some pets are well looked after and are really loved by their owners. This is especially true in England as can be seen from the following true story. In a Liverpool local newspaper , court cases were reported on a regular basis. On the same page, two cases  involving violence were printed side by side. In one, a man was before the court for beating his wife. He was cautioned and bound to the peace. In the other, a man was up for kicking a cat. He got six months in jail!.  I guess the judge had pets himself. To be serious though, pets should not be bought without first thinking about how to deal with their health and welfare. It is the least we can do in appreciation for the great affection, amusement and loyalty they show us.  Treat them well.