Penny being presented with a bouquet of flowers by the schoolchildren on her retirement as school caretaker


Shock was the first reaction of the community in Athea at Penny’s passing away. There were so many facets to her own personal life, both within her own extended family and in her involvement in the parish that it would be well-nigh impossible for any individual to pay proper tribute to her. So, it was a pleasant surprise to hear heartfelt tributes from Kathleen, in her notes, and the Athea United Soccer club in last week’s Newsletter. All that would be a humble effort to give her due credit for her lifelong dedication to the various causes she served so willingly and so enthusiastically.

The only time-label I can put on the beginning of our friendship was sometime in the Sixties when I became principal of the Boys’ School : in other words half a century ago! Just some of the exploits we worked in were the annual carnival and the building of the Colbert Memorial Hall and, of course, her work as caretaker of the school would require a chapter in itself, even to scratch the surface of it !

If there was maybe a word to encapsulate her contribution during all those years I would describe her to be a carer. Penny was like a mother to the hundreds of small children she ministered to, even if it was only putting a plaster on a scratched knee or giving them something to ease a toothache. When any notable was in the school it would take her a very short period to rustle up  refreshments for them.

Of course the school itself was like a personal property; herself and Thady kept it spotless and we, teachers had never to be concerned.

The highlight of the day for the infant children was spending the last hour with Penny in the Memorial Hall and she was as involved in the hall maintenance as the school. Herself and Nora Wrenn sat for endless hours there trying to sell minerals etc. in an effort to pay the costs of running the place. In a sense it was an unusual friendship, seeing that both were on opposite sides of the political spectrum. The glue that enhanced their friendship was caring !

I was fortunate to have a lifelong friendship with both so you can understand that it was so personal to lose a friend whose almost entire career paralleled my own. These few lines are but a snapshot of Penny’s lifetime and most people will accept it is a truism that she is busy in the great afterlife organizing things: old habits die hard ! We say farewell to one of the most outstanding women of our lifetime in Athea.   Slán Penny.

 Timmy Woulfe

James Dunn, Artist, Painting the Mural


The weather held up for us on Saturday last which allowed us to get some much needed work completed before the adjudicator’s visit.

The signage at Athea Fairy Mountain has now been replaced and some surprise features have also been added. We are awaiting delivery of a new fairy mail post box to complete the upgrade of the trail. We would encourage parents to bring along children to visit the amenity and view the upgrade over the summer months.

The flower bed near Horgan’s Garage was also upgraded last week. This area is now planted with shrubs and decorative stone has been laid to prevent weed growth. Summer colour will also be added to this bed to further enhance this approach road.

A new figure has recently appeared on the Mural across from the Credit Union by our local volunteer artist James Dunn. Anyone recognise the figure??

Wren’s Shop has also recently been painted which cleans up the area greatly and creates a nice first impression as one enters the village from this approach road.

The library is also due to be painted in the coming months. Many thanks to Mary Teresa Hurley for casting an artist’s eye over the colour scheme!

Councillor Francis Foley has assured us  the surface of the footbridge will be replaced this year. In recent years the surface has deteriorated and become dangerous. This will make the crossing of the bridge safer and will improve the overall look of this fantastic structure.

We are currently mapping the sites in the parish where Japanese Knotweed exists. Each site will be marked with a sign encouraging people not to cut the plant. Cutting will contribute to further distribution of the invasive species throughout the parish. Please get in touch with any member of the committee if a location is missed.

Thanks to all residents & businesses who responded to our call last week. Again we are making our appeal this week to please brush and maintain outside your door. All support is greatly appreciated.

Last year’s adjudicator also mentioned about the treatment of boundary walls. We would encourage residents living inside the speed limit signs to clean & paint up boundary walls. This has been done to great effect on Dalton Street/Barrack street. Thanks to local residents for your continued support. We also have a range of colour cards available and are happy to help out with paint selection..

Progress continues to be made on our concrete telephone phone-box which will house the village defibrillator. We are currently seeking  sponsorship towards this project. All sponsors will be mentioned on a plaque which will be erected on the telephone box. To date we have two sponsors, but we would like to appeal to anyone else out there who would like to support the project or provide sponsorship in memory of a loved one or on behalf of a family to please contact us on 087 9042477 as soon as possible.

The window boxes & hanging baskets are due to be erected this week. We had a sneak preview on Saturday morning and we suspect that this year may be our biggest display to date! We will be operating a rota system for watering/dead heading flowers for the summer period and would appreciate a few extra volunteers. All volunteers would be more than welcome to join the team!

Worrying Time for the North

Domhnall de Barra

So, they all got it wrong again; the politicians, the polsters, media and the political gurus who are supposed to have their fingers on the pulse.  Above all Theresa May got it wrong. She did not need to go to the country, as she promised she would not do when made leader, but she saw an opportunity to bury, once and for all, what she and her party perceived to be, a very weak labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn. The signs were good and she believed, as did many others, that she would have a landslide victory and have a powerful hold on British politics for the foreseeable future. Unfortunately they have learned nothing from recent history. The Tories did not really want to leave Europe but they had to pacify the group within the party who put British identity and autonomy above the wellbeing of the nation and want to hang on to the idea that  “Britannia rules the waves”  all the time. There was no problem, the people would reject leaving Europe and everything would go back to normal. They underestimated the power of the leave campaign to play on people’s fears about immigration and to tell downright lies about what money would be saved if Britain was in total control of its own finances. So, the unthinkable happened. Make the best of a bad lot and Theresa May, who was in favour of staying in the union, has to do an about face and negotiate as good a deal a she can. They all said Donald Trump was unelectable but they got that wrong too so no lessons were learned and an act of stupidity in calling an early election has completely backfired and has left these islands in a very uncertain state. Already, with the drop in the value of Sterling, Irish exporters have lost millions. There are those who predict that  there will be parity between the pound and the euro in the near future. If that happens we are in deep trouble. Stability needs to be established  very quickly to calm the markets or we are into uncharted waters.

The only game in town is the alliance between the DUP ant the Conservatives. Arlene Foster was teetering on the brink of losing her position as leader of the DUP just a couple of weeks ago due to pressure over the “cash for ash” scandal. Now, due to gaining a couple of seats in the Westminster elections and the fact that they are needed to form a government, she has suddenly become the most powerful politician on these islands. Nationalists in Northern Ireland must surely be worried about the influence she will have on Northern Ireland policy. The UK is supposed to be an impartial partner to the  Good Friday Agreement but, how can that be when the Unionists are part of the government. To make matters worse there is no representative of the nationalists in Westminster due to the fact that Sinn Féin MPs will continue the practice of abstentionism and not take up their seats. They have a problem of taking the oath of allegiance to the Queen but I wonder if it isn’t time to rethink this strategy. Times are moving on. The British  Royals visit Ireland and Sinn Féin leaders have shaken the Queen’s hand. Uttering the words of allegiance may be repugnant to nationalists but they are only words and have no meaning anymore. The people who elected them deserve to be represented in parliament where they are needed to counteract the unionists and maybe bolster an alternative government made up of the Labour party, Scottish Nationalists and Sinn Fein. In the meantime, the Good Friday Agreement needs to be protected at all costs. Nobody in their right mind wants to go back to the days of the troubles but there are those out there  who are just waiting for an excuse to unleash mayhem on these islands again. It is time for politicians, on both sides of the Irish sea to do their duty by those who elected them. The future is very worrying for everybody. The worst scenario is the return of a hard border between North and South but it is difficult to see how this can be avoided. Isn’t it such a pity that the Conservatives, against their own better judgement, decided to hold that referendum. Isn’t it also a pity that Jeremy Corbyn did not campaign in that referendum as strongly as in the recent elections. Things could have been so much different. Take nothing for granted anymore and never believe a word that comes out of a politicians mouth.