Athea Library almost ready to be re-opened as a community facility. Anyone wishing to book, please contact Athea Community Council.

Group from Athea and surrounding areas on a recent day trip to Kildare

Athea Tidy Towns  – Please Vote!!!! 

We were delighted to receive news this week that we have been shortlisted for the Limerick Going for Gold Community Challenge Category 2017. The category has a top prize of €10,000 with additional runner up prizes. But now we need your help to vote!!

Interviews with the Community Challenge category will take place with Joe Nash on the ‘Limerick Today Show’ over a 5 week period. There will be five weeks of interviews with six groups interviewed per week. The first interview is scheduled for Thursday 27th July and Athea are first up against Askeaton, Patrickswell, Knocklong, Athea, Kilfinane and Moyross. We are appealing to the community to vote for Athea to go through to the next stages. You can do this by texting ‘Gold ATHEA’ to 53095. Texts cost 20 cent each. Voting starts after the interview at 12 midday on Thursday (July 27th)  and finishes at 12 midnight on the same day. (12 hours voting).  Winner will be announced on Friday and this group will be a finalist in the Going for Gold Grand Final. We would really appreciate your vote to help us get through to the final stages and to help us be in with a chance to win the Community Challenge Category 2017!

The Way we Speak 

Domhnall de  Barra

I was listening to the radio while on my way to Cork the other day . The radio is always on when I am driving and most of the time it is just background noise that I often ignore. I might be waiting for the news and then suddenly realise that the broadcast was over. On this occasion, however, my attention was drawn by the lovely accent of an actor from Connemara called Páraic Breathnach who was being interviewed by Ray D’arcy. He was the barman in Pat Shortt’s comedy Kilnaskully and a founder member of Machnas in Galway. In the course of the conversation he was asked about the state of his native language and he lamented that the language that he learned as a boy had almost disappeared and been replaced by “new Irish”. He is just 61 years old so it is frightening to think that such a transformation could take place in such a short time. He mentioned words that had been created because there was no equivalent in the Irish language. Two of these were boyfriend and girlfriend: “buachaillcáirde agus cailíncáirde”. The reason these words were missing from Irish is simple. There were no boyfriends or girlfriends long ago. Matches were made and people got married and made the best of it. Some grew to love each other while others lived in misery with no hope of escape. There are many other words missing from the language as well because, at the beginning of the state, it was sanitised before being taught to the children of the nation. For example, there are no words to describe certain body parts or sexual activity if one looks at the official translations. Of course they exist but the powers that be at the time didn’t want our youth to be scandalised.

It got me thinking about the changes in the local language in my own lifetime and the words and phrases we no longer use. Many of the words we used were from the Irish language though not exactly as they would have once been used. When feeding the cattle, for instance, a “beart” of hay would be taken in the arms just like a “gabhal” (pronounced “gwall”) of turf might be brought in to keep the fire going and a bunch of rushes was referred to as a “triopal”. We often began our sentences  with “yerra” and expressed amazement with phrases like “d’anam ón Diabhal” which means “that the devil may not have your soul”.  A youngster who was lively was said to be full of “taspach”, a simple woman was referred to as an “eonsach” and a similar man as an “amadán”.  There are hundreds of theses and I apologise if I have got the spellings wrong but they are a reminder to us that it is not really that long ago since Irish was the spoken language in our area.

Change is gradual and it is only natural that language will evolve and become different as time goes on and  outside influences such as TV and social media dictate our way of communicating with each other. Nowadays to be “cool” does not mean that you need to put on another layer of clothing  and to “chill” does not mean you have to take an ice bath. A “gas man” does not necessarily mend your cooker and a “gay” man may not be the life and soul of the party. We easily fall into a way of talking and in the end it does not matter as long as we understand each other and are able to communicate. Some purists  will not agree but language has always changed with every generation. If we look at English a couple of hundred years ago we will find that it is totally different to what it is today.  Being right is a matter of where you stop the clock. Americans, or at least those who are not native, have no language of their own as such and use English but they are gradually making changes to spellings, pronunciations and grammar that make significant differences to what is spoken here and in Britain. They also are coming up with new words and phrases that we do not have and, to be honest, we don’t want to have.  Yes, the “mother tongue” is getting a bit of a bashing but it is now, to all intents and purposes, the common language of the world. There are very few places where English is not taught in schools or spoken as a second language. It is great for us when we go on holidays, unlike a few years ago when it was difficult to communicate with people in a foreign tongue.  It would be a pity if English, like a fast growing weed, swallowed up all the other languages. Like music and culture, native tongues are part of a nation’s soul and they should be nurtured.

In our own case, if that means having “new Irish” then let us embrace it and support the hundreds of Gaelscoilleanna throughout the country who are playing a major role in keeping the language alive.