Teacher Ann Marie Horgan with the Athea N.S. Carol Singers on Friday morning last at Colleen’s Cake Stall in the village.

Congratulations to Leah Geoghegan who graduated from Mary Immaculate College recently with a Batchelor of Education in Primary Teaching.

Players from the team who were Junior A Football Champions in 1997 at a Commemoration Night in the Top of the Town recently



To all our readers, columnists, advertisers, contributors and the shops who sell the newsletter free of charge.

May the coming year bring you all you desire.

The first publication of the New Year will be on Wednesday, January 10th.

Athea National School-Grandparent/Special FriendsDay

Athea N.S. Would like to invite the community of Athea to its 2nd Grandparents/Special Friends Day on Thursday, December 21st. Mass at 12.00pm followed by the Official Opening of the Autistic Playground by the Lord Mayor of Limerick, Mr. Stephen Keary. Tea/coffee to follow with a little entertainment by the children’s school choir.

Athea & District Credit Union A.G.M.

The AGM of Athea & District Credit Union will take place on Friday, December 22nd at 7pm in the Credit Union offices at 7pm. Everybody welcome.

The Credit Union will be open until Friday, December 22nd  when we close for the holidays and will re-open on Thursday, January 4th

Home For Christmas

Adapted from a story by Ray Fennelly

Domhnall de Barra

John was born in Upper Athea in 1939. His parents were small farmers who eked a meagre living from the land. He was one of a large family and, like many a young man at the time he left school at the age of 14 to work a day here and there for local farmers. There was no other work available and the money wasn’t great but it kept him going for a few years. Eventually, a cousin of his father’s sent the money for the fare to America so he emigrated to New York to get a better life for himself. John was a good worker and he was soon in good employment in the building industry where he quickly made a name for himself as a man to be relied on. Most of the workers on the building sites were from Ireland so when work was finished for the evening it was the custom to go to the nearest bar for a couple of beers before going home. John liked the beer and soon got a taste for it as well as whisky and brandy.  As time went on he spent more and more time in the pub until he was drinking all the spare money he had . He was young and strong so he was able to do his work every day as usual.

He wanted to go home for Christmas so each year he would give up the beer in October to save enough for the trip home. Alas he never quite managed to stay on the wagon. Something always happened to trigger a return to the booze so eventually he gave up trying altogether and resigned himself to the fact that he would never see his home again. Year followed year and, as his body aged, he was no longer able to hold down a job. He lost his flat but was lucky to get a bed in a hostel each night. By day he roamed the streets and financed his drinking by doing odd jobs around the local bars.

One evening he was walking through Central Park when a great weariness came over him and he had to sit on a park bench. It was a couple of days before Christmas and the snow had just begun to fall. He closed his eyes for a moment but he woke suddenly, as if he had been shaken, to find a slip of paper on the bench beside him. It was a lottery ticket so, hoping that his luck was in he took it to the nearest store to find out that he had just won $5,000.  He took it as a sign from above so, stopping only to buy new clothes and shoes, he headed for the airport and booked on a flight to Shannon. Soon he was winging his way over the ocean and in what seemed like a flash he was in Shannon hiring a car for the journey home. He drove in a kind of a daze through Limerick and on the road to the Pike where he turned off for Carrig and Athea. As he neared the village memories of his youth came flooding back. He passed the High Field where he had togged out many times for Athea. Scanlon’s dance hall brought Nancy, a girl he was courting before he went away, to mind. Up the street he remembered the great nights in the pups with the creamy pints of Guinness, the games of 41 and the sing-song on fair days. Finally he turned in the short passage to his parents house. As he entered the yard the house, with its welcoming candles lighting up the windows stood before him. He was overcome with emotion and he closed his eyes saying “I’m home for Christmas at last”.

Back in Central Park the paramedics searched through the clothes of the tramp on the bench looking for some kind of ID. They found nothing. The policeman who had called them when he found the man slumped on the bench in a bad way asked the if they had any idea who he was. “I, don’t”, one of them replied, “but I know he was Irish”. “How do you know that”, the policeman asked. “Because, just before he died ho opened his eyes for a split second, closed them again and in a lovely Irish brogue said: I’m home for Christmas at last”