Seán Fitzgerald  R.I.P.

Domhnall de Barra

The sudden death of Sean Fitzgerald, or Sean Batt as he was known, came as a great shock to all who knew him. Although his health was waning for a while we thought he had many more years left in his famous pub. His popularity could be gauged by the large numbers that attended the removal and burial on Friday and Saturday. From bikers to ladies footballers, they all turned out to pay their last respects to a man who had been a steadfast supporter of theirs since he took over the pub in the ‘90s. I probably knew him as well as any one in Athea  as we were raised little more than a mile apart in Cratloe and Knocknasna. He was four years older than me but I remember him well as a young lad who used to ride his bicycle like a demon. It couldn’t go fast enough for him, shades of what was to come when he progressed to motor cars!. We both set up shop in Athea in the 90s, across the road from each other and we were always backwards and forwards with news and gossip. He was the best of company and we spent many hours discussing people and places we knew in England, current affairs but , most of all, sport. A keen Arsenal supporter he had a vast knowledge of all sports and would love to catch me out with a question like; “Hi Barry, who was the first footballer with long hair”? He loved nature and tradition and roamed the bog roads taking in all the flora and fauna. He was a proud man, proud of his Irishness, proud of the Munster rugby team, proud of Athea but most of all proud of his pub, one of the last remaining traditional hostelries. He kept its character intact and took great pride in the fact that it was known all over the world. It appeared on the cover of a German magazine once to his delight. Like all human beings he had his faults. He could be “cranky” at times and if you happened to say the wrong thing in the wrong place (or sometimes even the right thing in the wrong place) he could, as they say, “eat you without salt” but it was soon forgotten and he was back to his jovial self. He was a man of  integrity who lived his life by high standards. He will be sadly missed by his family, friends and all who knew him. Athea is a poorer place for his passing.  Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.

Bikers escorting the hearse carrying Seán Batt Fitzgerald to his final resting place in Holy Cross cemetery on Saturday last.

Athea Gun Club

The fishing club wish to sincerely like to pass on our deepest sympathy to the family and relatives of the late SEAN FITZGERALD, proprietor, of BATTS Bar, Athea, who died last week.
Sean was always a very loyal supporter and most appreciated sponsor of our fishing club right down through the years and right up to his untimely death. We are, and always will, be indebted to his kind generosity and ever open arms in making us welcome to his premises whether it be for meetings, weigh-ins, craic and let it not be said, we always laughed at the BIG ONES that forever got away.

Pat McSweeney

The late Superintendent John McCormack

The death, announced in last week’s local newspapers, of John McCormack, hardly evoked more than a passing glance from most Athea readers. Yet it is worth noting that he spent a few short years as sergeant in Athea in the 1960s and made an outstanding contribution to the local environment during his short stay.

John was a late entry into the Garda Síochána having served for some time in the Irish Army, but his promotion up through the ranks was rapid. Promotion meant several quick transfers to  stations up and down the country. He was in Ballinasloe when he attained the rank of inspector before finally seeing out the rest of his forty year career as Superintendent of the Askeaton District of the Garda Síochána.

When he arrived in Athea in the mid 60s with his wife and family he quickly settled into community life and soon got involved in the Con Colbert Memorial which was set up basically to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the 1916 Rising in which our own Con Colbert Lost his life.

Apart from celebrating the Rising our committee had decided to erect a memorial hall to Colbert’s memory so that there was now a dual objective which was a lot more extensive than we had had thought at the time. John McCormack, along with several other formidable members, played a leading role in a discreet way which would not, in any way compromise his membership of the Gardaí.

Higher authority had, obviously, decided that John was higher officer material and, unfortunately for, us he was soon moved on to more important stations.

I hope those who knew him, or served in committees with him in Athea will remember him kindly for a great community man who left a mark on the local community in a short tenure.

May he rest in peace.   

Timmy Woulfe

Remembrance Mass

There will be a Remembrance Mass at 7.30pm on this Friday, February 9th. for Darby O’Connor, late of Park, Upper Athea, who passed away recently in Philadelphia. May he rest in peace.