Queensland Rose of Tralee, Sarah Griffin Breen, whose mother comes from Coole West, Athea, pictured with members of the Griffin Family at a reception at the Top of the Town, Athea, on Wednesday, August 8th

A Message of Thanks from Queensland Rose Sarah

It was absolutely brilliant to visit Athea and have Thady and Jamie from Tidy Towns, Athea show me the points of interest around Athea. Thank you Thady and Jamie for taking time out of your day to show me around, it’s wonderful to know more about the village my mother grew up in!

I’d also like to thank everyone who came from near and far to the Top of the Town in Athea on Wednesday night to wish me well. It was a fantastic night, I wasn’t expecting such a beautiful reception from everyone and it meant the world to me that you all came by.

Queensland Rose, Sarah Griffin Breen, at the mural in front of the old forge
Wishing Sarah the very best of Luck Here’s hoping that she will bag the Rose of Tralee Crown. All of Athea will be cheering for you Sarah

Sacristans’ Collection

The Sacristans’ collection for Carol will take place on Saturday, 25th and Sunday 26th of August. Envelopes available at the Church doors. Thank you for your support.

A Good Time of the Year

by Domhnall de Barra

August is a nice time of the year. By now the hay should be saved, the turf home and the spuds almost ready to be dug. In days gone by it was also a time of holidays and festivals. We don’t have the “holydays of obligation” anymore, more’s the pity. These holydays were dedicated to saints and were to be observed in the Catholic Church as Sundays. This meant no unnecessary servile work so it was a time of  festivals and sports in many towns and villages. “Pattern” days were held  on the 15th of August, the feast of the Assumption,  in Knockanure, Knocknagoshel, Ballybunion and many other places in our area. Some of these were very well attended and attracted athletes from all over Munster. They gave people an opportunity to relax after all the summer work in a time when machinery played a very small part in farming.  Some places had “shows” where farm produce such as vegetables, poultry, eggs, cattle etc. were exhibited and judged for their quality. There could be great rivalry between neighbours and a bit of jealousy when the results were announced but in general it was good fun and they all gathered in some local establishment for a celebratory libation.

As I previously stated, the hay should be saved by this time but that depended on the weather and if it wasn’t a good year the harvest might be a bit late. When it was saved it had to be drawn in with horses and carts and piked into the hay shed. It was tough work on a fine day but the worst job was often given to the youngest worker  and that was packing the hay  up under the roof of the shed. It was like working in a furnace with hay dust all over the place and the added danger from little bloodsuckers called “sciortáns” who would attach themselves to any bare skin and suck the blood until they swelled up like mini balloons. I remember doing that job at Johnny Woulfe’s, down the road from us, when I was a young lad on school holidays. When we were finished Dan Woulfe gave me a swig from a bottle of cold cider and I thought it was the most wonderful drink I had ever tasted. I would have drank the whole bottle if I was left, I was that thirsty.

We always got jobs long ago, either around the house or helping a neighbouring farmer in return for a bottle of milk during the wintertime. From now on the spuds would be dug but only the early ones. The main crop wouldn’t be ready until a few weeks later. When we had visitors at this time of year I would be despatched to the garden with a white enamel bucket and an old “priuc” of a spade to get enough spuds for the dinner. With eight in our own family and several visitors to be fed, the bucked would have to be filled to the brim. There was an art to digging spuds in order to avoid cutting them and leaving the ground in a nice tidy manner as you moved along the ridge. The easiest way was to pull the stalks first and shake the spuds off them before depositing them flat in the hollows between the ridges. Then the old spade was placed carefully behind where the stalks had been and the rest of the spuds were thrown out of the soil to sit in a nice line ready to be picked up. You dare not come in with the mark of the spade on the spuds so if you did happen to cut one, it was better to throw it away out of sight. Washing them was the next job but that was easy with the new spuds as the soil fell off them easily. Then they were boiled with bacon and cabbage or turnips. We could not get enough of them when they were new which was a mistake because they could cause stomach cramps if eaten in large quantities. My mother once overindulged and  told us that she was swollen and “fit to burst”. The following Sunday we went to Ballybunion, as we generally did on a good Sunday, to play on the sand and bathe in the water. On the beach near us was a woman who was heavily pregnant. One of my sisters looked at her and said: “look at the size of that lady. She must have eaten a pile of new spuds”.  They have a special taste when new and boiled and eaten in their skins. Soon they will have matured and that particular taste will be gone but new spuds can be had for Christmas dinner. When dug at this time of the year put them in sand into an old biscuit tin, or something similar, and seal the lid making it airtight.  Store them in a cool place and they will be good as new for the Christmas table. People get their spuds in supermarkets today but long ago everybody had a garden and most of it was set aside for the humble tuber. It was the staple diet and kept many a family alive throughout hard winters.

Another memory of August was that the holidays were nearly over and the time was drawing near when the school bag would have to be found and we would once again be taking the mile and a half walk to Cratloe school every morning. As the evenings began to draw in and the sunrise got later each morning we tried to pack as much enjoyment as we could into the days we had left before the dreaded first day back. It would come all too soon but still, we had the spuds to look forward to when we got home!!

“Life is for living but it is a terminal disease”