Happy New Year to all our readers at home and abroad

Nancy Woulfe, Mary Kelly, Nellie Ahern & Kit O’Connor enjoying the Going Strong Christmas party at the Top of the Town before Christmas

Athea Graveyards Collection

The graveyards committee would like to thank most sincerely all those who contributed so generously to our collection on 29th/30th December which totalled €2,195.50c.


Congratulations to Chrissie Mulvihill, The Lane, Upper Athea, who celebrated her 90th birthday over Christmas with a lovely surprise when the  Liam McCarthy Cup was brought to her house.

A New Year Dawns

by Domhnall de Barra 

So, we begin a new year and as usual we make our list of resolutions that we firmly believe we will stick to for the foreseeable future.  It is a natural reaction after a period of celebration, eating rich food and overindulging in the alcohol department. For those of us who are used to working every day and have regular eating habits it is totally unnatural to be inactive for any period of time and although we look forward to the time when we have nothing to do, when it actually comes we don’t know what to do with ourselves. If we are honest, most of us are glad when Christmas is over and we can return to what resembles normality. We do of course want to make our lives better, hence the  new year resolutions. We go on diets, give up beer and cigarettes, chocolates and sweets etc. The only thing they all have in common is that the vast majority of resolutions fail. We mean well starting off but we are only human after all and, bit by bit, we return to our old habits. Perhaps we are making the wrong kind of resolutions. Instead of dealing with material things we could try to be better to our families, friends and neighbours. It will not cost us anything and will give us that “feel good ” factor that enriches all our lives. The new year brings us hope, an expectation that things will be better from now on. The longest night has passed and each new day brings a little more daylight. Hope is really what keeps us going.  It was so important to the people who came before us who lived through troubled times. When they had very little material wealth and struggled to make ends meet they always had the hope, through their religious beliefs, that there was a better life to come when their suffering would be over and they would enjoy happiness in Heaven.  While we have hope we get the will to carry on and it keeps us going.

My hope, this year, is that the  political turmoil we have at the moment will cease and we will not career down the slippery slope into chaos. In recent years, politics has failed us, giving us Brexit, Donald Trump and a host of left wing politicians who want to return to the philosophies of people like Adolf Hitler. Brexit is the direct result of miscalculation by the British government who sought to appease a group of Tory MPs who still believe that “Britannia rules the waves” and England is still the greatest nation in the world. They wanted to pull out of Europe so the easiest thing to do was to have a referendum which, in the government’s reckoning, had no chance of being passed. They were so complacent about it that they did not put up a proper defence against the blatant lies that were being told to the British public by people like Boris Johnson, one of the most educated buffoons in the world. Now it is a complete mess and nobody knows how it will all end. My fear is that a return to a hard border of any kind will plunge this island into a war of terrorism once again. People do have long memories and there are those who are just waiting for an excuse to resume hostilities. So, I hope common sense will prevail and we will reach a settlement that will not impinge on the livelihoods of people either in Ireland or the UK.

The election of Donald Trump was another major surprise to everybody, including the pollsters who had predicted a comfortable win for Hillary Clinton. He has brought the art of politics to an all time low. He is basically an uncouth, ignorant man who has no respect for his opponents and very little for his allies. What a contrast he is to the great men who have held that high office in the past who knew how to speak and how to negotiate with other leaders around the world without resorting to insults and name calling.  My hope is that the American people will somehow get rid of him and bring us back to some semblance of decency.

I want 2019 to be the year we start to deal in a serious way with asylum seekers. At the moment, those unfortunate people who have paid their life savings to unscrupulous pirates to ferry them across the Mediterranean in an attempt to escape the brutality of war are in what we call “direct provision”. It is no more than open prison where there are no rights to earn a living  or contribute to the community. Some of them are in this situation for years and years. How can it possibly take 8 years to process an application for asylum?  We need to treat these people with respect. It has often been said to me “we can’t house or look after our own so why should we do it for foreigners”?   Let us get one thing out of the way; there is no housing crisis in Ireland; there is a crisis in the major centres like Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Galway but there are thousands of vacant houses throughout rural Ireland. At the last count there were over 50 in Athea parish alone. Some of them are not in great shape but there are also quite a lot that would need very little work to make them habitable. Would it not be better to have people living in all these houses, raising families that will enrich our society and ensure a future for our schools and local businesses. Does it really matter what the colour of their skin is or what religion they follow, if any?  Irish people left these shores in droves after the famine. How would we feel if they had not been welcomed in places like America, England and Australia and were instead put into “direct provision” for years waiting to know if they could stay or be deported.  All it takes is the political will to act and I sincerely hope this is the year we see a change.

I hope you all have a very happy New Year.