Megan Carroll, Bachelor of Science and Physical Education receives A University of Limerick Sports Scholarship Award this week.

Cathy Gibbons, Gortnagross, Athea, who works at Noreen Barry’s Playgroup in Abbeyfeale, with the certificate she received from the University of Limerick. Cathy graduated with grade 1 honours in “Leadership for inclusion in the Early Years”. She is being congratulated by Noreen Barry

St. Vincent de Paul

The St. Vincent de Paul annual Church gate collection will take place this coming weekend,  Saturday/Sunday December 2nd & 3rd. Your support as always will be greatly appreciated. 

Going Strong Christmas Party

The Going Strong Christmas Party will be held on Wednesday, December 6th starting with Mass at 12.30pm (sharp) in the Top of the Town. Meal will be served at 1.30pm with music afterwards by Ger Connaghan. The cost is €10 per person and names must be handed in before December 3rd to Rose at Brouder’s Shop, Peggy Casey or Maireád Langan. There is a choice of beef or turkey for the main course so please state which you want when booking.  A great day is in store with music, song, dance and spot prizes galore. If anyone wants to donate at spot prize we would greatly appreciate it.

Thank You

On behalf of the O’Connor family, we would like to thank most sincerely Athea Community First Responders for the help, support and care that was given to our mother Betty when she fell ill last year. The response from the responders was immediate and reassuring. We would also like to thank Dr. Murphy who attended Betty on the day. Thank you to all our neighbours and friends that called, text, sent cards and well wishes. We are very lucky to live in such a caring community. Thank you to Fr. Bowen who called to Betty numerous times while she was in intensive care and also when she came home. Thank you also to Fr. Duggan for the monthly visits. It is greatly appreciated by all her family. A Mass will be offered for your good intentions.

From the O’Connor & Wallace families, Coole West.


Sincere sympathy to Ashling Reidy (who works at O’Riordan’s Pharmacy in Athea) on the recent sudden death of her father Liam Stirrat from Scotstown in Co. Monaghan. Liam, who was very involved in the GAA, played for and managed the Monaghan Team.  ‘May he rest in Peace’

Things of the Past

Domhnall de Barra

I have written many times about the changes that have occurred in Ireland since my schooldays in the middle of the last century. Hard to believe that we have gone from an era without electricity, running water, cars, tar roads, TVs  mobile telephones, computers,  toilets etc to the world of technology and relative luxury we have today. Money was scarce but was not needed because there were no utility bills or food bills to worry about. Most of what we ate grew on the land and a couple of days in the bog or the meadow was enough to get a year’s supply of milk from a neighbouring farmer if you didn’t have “a cow for the house”.  Young people wonder how we could survive under the prevailing conditions and how we weren’t bored out of our minds. In reality we never heard of the word boredom. Every bit of the day was filled with activity. School took up the early part of the day and as soon as we got home we had our “jobs” to do. Water had to be drawn from the well, turf brought in for the night, animals fed, hens and other fowl locked up for the night, spuds and vegetables dug, to name but a few. In the summer time we played football or hurling in the evening. All the local lads would gather either at Phil’s field or Dave Connors’ and  two teams would be picked for a match. We started off with rubber balls but we all saved up and pooled our money to buy an O’Neill’s football. The first time we got  that ball we felt like the Kerry team taking the field. Hurling was not like the game we see today. For a start very few of us had a proper hurley (or a “hurl” as they call it in some parts of the country) so lads would appear with sticks made out of flooring board or a stave of a meat barrel or a suitable turned furze root. The ball could be makeshift as well but we got great enjoyment out of it and developed our skills. Some were better than others but the most stylish was Conor Herbert. He could do anything with a ball and hurley, so much so that we christened him “The Wizard of the Ash”, this got shortened to The Wizard and I am not sure if he ever knew what we were calling him behind his back. When we had enough played we might have a game of  pitch and toss, if we had a couple of pennies to start with. The game was simple enough. A “jack”, usually a small stone, was placed on the ground and players took turns tossing a penny at the stone from a prescribed distance. Whoever owned the penny nearest the jack got the first opportunity to toss all the pennies in the air. Some placed the pennies on their palms to toss them but others were more flamboyant and arranged the pennies along the teeth of their combs and deftly flicked them with a theatrical flip of the hand. Whichever method was adopted made little difference as luck now came into play. When the pennies came to rest on the ground the tosser could pick up and keep every one that turned up “heads” and leave the  “harp” ones for the person who was next nearest the jack. This process went on until there were no pennies left and then the next game would begin. There was many an argument about who was the nearest but it never came to blows, unlike the football and hurling.

In the winter time the football and hurling was reserved for Sunday afternoons, if the weather permitted. This, the time of the long dark evenings, was when we “rambled” to a neighbouring house to play cards or learn music and maybe a few steps of a set. Our rambling house was Dave Connors’. Dave, like most men at the time, held court by the fire while his wife Liz busied herself with household chores. They were remarkable, intelligent people and they must have had the patience of Jobe to put up with us. Dave thought me my first few notes on the tin whistle and when I had become “handy” at it he explained the difference between tunes and which would be most suitable for a particular part of a set. Learning to play cards had its own difficulties. Playing the wrong card could incur the wrath of the table but we soon learned the game as well as the lingo to go with it. For instance, if clubs were turned up trumps  somebody would say “club the constable and hand the bailiff”, a phrase that wasn’t coined today or yesterday!.   If it was diamonds it would be “diamonds dearly bought for ladies and small praties boiled for pigs” and a spade would encourage “spades for slaves to go and dig”  The two was referred to as the “deuce”, the three as the “tray”, the knave was the “jack”, the ace of hearts was the “bonham” and the ten of spades was often called the “Ballingarry hearse”. The five of trumps might be called the “big dog” and so on.  We played 41. Five “sticks were played for a ha’penny. Sometimes we played 110, a very skilful game you don’t hear  much of anymore. We had great times in that house and I will always remember their kindness and generosity. The truth is, we didn’t have time to be bored as we never had a moment to spare in the day.  We didn’t have much but we didn’t need much. The best things in life really are free.