Athea Ladies Football Club’s youngest supporter, Ella McCarthy, with Maria O’Halloran at the Athea v Knockainey Championship game in Knockainey on Saturday evening last in Knockainey

Eilish Geoghegan with her grandchildren at the Athea Credit Union 50th Birthday Celebrations last week


Ladies Monthly Night Out

The Ladies Monthly Night Out will be held on Friday night, May 4th in Browne Joe’s with music by Mike Solo (Mike Guinane), fun and games including bingo, quiz, etc. Charity night for Julie Reidy, Special Olympics Ireland. This will be the last one until after the summer. So come along and enjoy a great night of fun.

CFR Training

There will be CPR and Defibrillator training in the Hall on Saturday 12th May from 09:00 to 13:00.To book a place and for more information contact Rodge Byrne on 086 3103233.

Athea Vixens Basketball Club

On Saturday, May 12th the Athea Vixens Basketball Club will be holding a fundraiser in the Community Hall at 7pm. Lizzie Lyons from Lizzie’s Little Kitchen in Listowel and Ballybunion will be holding a cookery demonstration which will include food tastings, a door prize and raffle prizes. The tickets at €15 can be got from Trish Aherne or from club members.

Athea & District Credit Union 50th Anniversary

Athea & District Credit Union would like to thank all who attended our recent 50th anniversary celebrations on Saturday 14thApril.  We are very grateful for the support of our members both young and old.  Thank you also to all who sent cards and well wishes and to Athea Tidy Towns for their very thoughtful gift. A huge thank you to all who helped to make the day such a success. We are very lucky to be able to share the day with committee members both past and present. Congratulations to Margaret Mulvihill, Lower Athea, who won the first of our monthly draws, a €100 voucher for Hannah-Mai Flowers/Collins’ Nursery.

Our next draw will be held on Saturday 26th May with the prize being €100 voucher for O’ Riordan’s Pharmacy.

May Day

By Domhnall de Barra

Today is the first day of May, one of the most celebrated months in the Irish calendar. Though May gets its name from the Greek Goddess Miai, in Irish it is called Bealtaine In ancient times, the two greatest festivals of the Celtic year were Samhain and Beltane. Samhain was the beginning of winter; it began on October 31st and ended exactly six months later on May 1st, Beltane. The name is thought to be derived from two possible sources; the Celtic pastoral God, Belenos, or the old Celtic words for “bright fire.” In Ireland,  bonfires were lit around Beltane- sometimes on the night before, and sometimes on the evening of the day itself. A Celtic feast day or festival always begins at sundown on the eve, and ends at sundown on the day. People usually danced around the fires and farmers would drive their cattle between two fires for protection.

There are a great many more customs and traditions associated with May. For instance it was considered bad luck to buy a broom, wash blankets or get married. The rhyme goes: “marry in May and you’ll rue the day.”  On May eve flowers were gathered, especially by children and were given to neighbours as gifts. A “May bush” was also manufactured and placed on the door to keep those in the house safe and protect them, from evil spirits. It was thought that impish fairies were particularly active at this time as well. This later gave rise to the blessing of land and cattle on May eve to ward off evil spirits and those thought to practice “pisheogary”.  Certain people were thought to have made a pact with the devil who gave them the power to   take over other’s crops and animals. It was very common when I was growing up and I well remember my mother going around sprinkling the garden and the fowl with the Easter water which would deter the pisheogaí from their evil intents.  A woman not far away from us lived next door to another woman who was suspected of practising the black arts. On May eve she was lamenting to her husband, who was getting on in years, that she had no bacon to cook for the dinner and that he would have to go to the shop for some. “No need”, he replied, “there’s a fine piece outside in the hayshed”. The woman panicked and, thinking it was placed there by her neighbour, as it was one of their methods, she went out, took the bacon and threw it back over the ditch into the neighbours land. That night her cow calved and produced fine healthy twin bulls. Her neighbours cow also calved but the calf died at birth. The woman was very troubled and felt guilty about throwing back the bacon, so much so that she eventually went to confession and told the whole story to the priest. He said to her “I’d rather be the one it was done to than the one that did it”, which left her worse than ever !  Another neighbouring farmer was almost bankrupt.  His hay rotted, his crops failed and his cattle got  sick and many died  due to pisheogs.  One of the men working there told me that when they were piking the hay into the barn they found several eggs and even a piece of salmon  hidden in the cocks. Eventually the clergy were called and a special ceremony and Mass were performed in the farm. From that day on there was a change of fortune and things returned to normal. The practice of pisheogary has died out, as far as I’m aware, but it was really scary not that long ago.

Remember the well known song “Here we go gathering nuts in May”  well, there are no “nuts involved at all.  “Nuts” were originally “knots”. They refer to the knots of flowers which were collected on May eve.  In recent times these were placed on altars and near statues to Our Lady. May is her special month . “Queen of the May” is one of her titles and there is a song sung by the great Fr. Sidney McEoin which starts off with: “O Mary we crown Thee with blossoms today, Queen of the Angels and Queen of the May”. For years  it was played on the Gay Byrne show on the first of May and the custom has been continued since Gay’s retirement by Ronan Collins.  May altars, bedecked with flowers were in every house and in many areas there were May processions where a young girl would be crowned May Queen. The May morning dew was also thought to have great powers. Young girls, in particular, would wash their faces in the dew and let them dry in the air as it was thought to enhance the complexion. It was also supposed to be very good for the feet to walk barefoot in it first thing in the morning. There was a riddle associated with this practice.

I washed my face in water that had neither rained nor run,
And I dried it on a towel, that was never woven or spun.

Let us enjoy the month of May, a time of growth and beauty and continue the devotion to Our Blessed Lady that was so important to our ancestors.