Ladies from Knockdown:
Peg Prendeville, Marian Cummane, Marcella O’Grady, Joan
O’Connor and Carol Noonan pictured at Leona O’Grady’s
wedding recently.

Church Gate Collection

Athea Utd Schoolboys will have a Church gate collection this coming weekend Saturday/Sunday December 8th & 9th. Your support would be very much appreciated.

Sean Keane in Concert

Glórach is pleased to announce that Seán Kean and his band, as part of his Christmas by the Hearth Tour, will perform in concert at  The Glórach Theatre, Abbeyfeale on Saturday 15th December. Concert starts at 8pm and tickets cost €25. Booking line 087-1383940

Bruach Na Carraige Rockchapel

The well known traditional duet of Jackie Daly on accordion and Matt Cranitch on fiddle will play in concert of Sliabh music in Bruach Na Carraige Rockchapel on Saturday the 15th of December starting at 8pm.

Rambling House

A Christmas rambling house will be held at Fr Casey’s club house, Abbeyfeale on Thursday, December 20 in aid of the Chemotherapy Day Ward at Kerry General Hospital. Your support would be greatly appreciated and all singers, dancers, storytellers and musicians all welcome to attend.  Doors open at 8.30 and show begins at 9pm.  Spot prizes and Santa will also make a visit on the night.

Christmas Cards

Hand-painted Christmas Cards are available at €5 for a pack of five at the Community Council office. €2 out of each set will go towards the Athea Lourdes Fund.

Call into the office or ring 068 42533  / 087 6758762  to order cards.

Change in Times

By Domhnall de Barra

I often comment about the great changes that have occurred during my lifetime (I hope I am not finished with it yet!!). Some of you may be fed up with it but it was such an interesting period in which to live. Some of the great changes are in crafts and employment. Who can remember the “telegram boy”?  He was always referred to as a “boy” even though he might be middle-aged. In the days before mobile phones and even when land lines were few and far between, telegrams were a fast way to send important news for people without telephones. A telegraph operator tapped the message out in code using a machine called a Morse key. The message travelled to another operator who decoded the long and short taps into words, and then passed the message on. This was called a telegram. It was given to the telegram boy who delivered it on a bicycle. People used to hate to see the telegram boy coming because, more often than not it was bad news. They were used extensively during war time to notify next of kin if somebody was killed or missing in action. The telegram cost a shilling I think but I am not sure. With modern technology that job disappeared.

There was a harness maker in every town and village one time. They were needed to make tackle for horse and donkeys so that they might be able to pull carts, ploughs, mowing machines and other farmyard machinery. Winkers, collars, belly bands and britching were all needed every so often. They worked mainly with leather which was made from the hides of  animals that had died.  They also used steel, tin and alloys to ornament some of the harness that might be for a jaunting car or a “gig” as we used to call it. Some farmers used it when driving to Mass on Sunday in the trap. There could be a bit of rivalry between neighbours as to who had the nicest rigout.  My own Godfather, Edsie White was a harness maker in Athea.

The shoemaker also did a lively trade. In the days before the invention of the wellingtons, hob-nailed boots were the normal working footwear. They were really heavy with thick soles and uppers that came up to the shin. They were laced with a thong that was usually made by the shoemaker and waxed to preserve it. The crowning glory was rows of studs or nails that were hammered into the sole of the shoe to protect the leather. Though a ton weight they were very durable and lasted a long time.  They were the work boots but other ones had to be made for Sunday. These were usually the same shape as the hob-nailed shoe but were of lighter leather and a thinner sole with no studs. The old people used to refer to them as “my light shoes”.  Only professionals and upper classes wore fancier footwear but there was a man to make them too.

The cooper made barrels out of wood and iron. The wood was cut into planks  called staves that tapered slightly at both ends. The wood was slightly bent over steam so that when the planks were placed together inside iron hoops they  formed a circle which was narrower at the top and bottom than in the middle. More hoops were forged in a fire and placed over the barrels at the top and bottom. They were also placed about a  quarter and three quarters of the way down the barrel. They were hammered on tightly while very hot and were then cooled with water. As the iron cooled it contracted and pulled the planks together tightly making the barrel waterproof. A bottom was then made and secured permanently and a top was also made that could be removed. These barrels were used for water or any other liquid. Small ones called firkins were used to hold butter while it was waiting to be transported to Cork. The firkin was buried in the local bog which was like a deep freeze and kept the butter fresh.  Another use for bigger barrels was to hold the salted bacon while it was being cured. The drinks industry used thousands of barrels for porter, beer, wine and spirits so coopers were kept very busy indeed. The advent of the steel barrel put an end to the local cooper. There are still a few who make barrels but none for local trade.

While tailors still exist in cities all the local ones have ceased trading. Every place had its own tailor long ago. He sat cross-legged on his table stitching the cloth together. In those days you couldn’t buy clothes off the peg so everything had to be made by hand or with a little help from a sewing machine. Getting a suit made was a big undertaking but everybody needed at least one for “good wear”. First the cloth, which was sold in bolts had to be chosen and the tailor then did his measurements. He sewed up the garment and then had the first fitting where he made slight adjustments outlined on the fabric with chalk. A final fitting was then arranged where minor alterations took place and at last the suit was ready to wear. The ladies got their costumes made by a dressmaker who was really a female tailor and alas they have now also disappeared.

These are but a few of the skills that have played a big part in our lives but are now surplus to requirements and consigned to memory. No doubt the world is a much better place for the advances in technology but there is a part of me that yearns for the simplicity and the ingenuity of bygone days.