Athea ladies celebrate Little Christmas
Margaret O’Mahony, Sheila Kearney, Mag Sheehy & Mary O’Mahony.

Athea Forestry Co-Op

An important meeting of the above will be held at the Top of the Town on Wednesday,  January 16th at 8pm. All shareholders are invited.

Progressive 41 Card Game for the Hope Foundation

There will be a progressive 41 card game (2 x 3s) in the Top of the Town bar at 8.30pm on Saturday night, February 2  in Aid of Sarah O’Connor’s and Alanah Scanlon’s trip to Kolkata with the Hope Foundation in April. There will be cash prizes and loads of spot prizes on the night. Your support would be greatly appreciated.

Comhaltas Music Classes

Enrolment for traditional music classes will take place in the hall kitchen on Tuesday night next, January 22nd.   We hope to have enough to make the class viable, especially this year with the County Fleadh Cheoil in Athea.

Sacristan’s Collection

Sacristan collection for Carol takes place on Saturday and Sunday 2nd & 3rd February. Envelopes will be available at the Church door. Thank you for your support.

Athea Drama Group

Athea Drama Group are proud to present our 2019 production of the hilariously vicious play The Lonesome West’ by Martin McDonagh.

The Lonesome West is the finest brand of black comedy that will make you laugh when you really shouldn’t. With explosive moments and the darkest humour, it tells the story of two feuding bachelor brothers (John Sheahan & Tommy Denihan) and attempts to civilise them by the despairing local priest ( Michael O’Connor) and his devoted sidekick, Girleen (Annette O’Donnell).

The play will be staged at Con Colbert Memorial Hall, Athea on February 7th, 9th, 10th, 14th, 16th & 17th at 8pm. This play is recommended for over 12s due to strong language and adult themes.

We will be implementing a booking system with open seating policy for 2019 where all bookings must be made in advance by texting/calling a designated number. This booking number will be made available next week. Watch this space!

Eating off the Land

by Domhnall de Barra

The garden was the most important part of any household  in the past. Every farmer laid aside a bit of good arable land to be cultivated as did every other homeowner with enough land. The council cottage came with an acre of land which was enough for a good garden and  the grass of a cow, if an extra bit of grazing could be acquired or the use of the “long acre”. The cow provided the milk for the house and a calf once a year that could be sold to augment the family budget. Much of the garden would be taken up with potatoes or “spuds” as they were commonly known and of course cabbage, turnips, parsnips and carrots were essential for the main daily meal. Some people went a bit farther and grew things like beetroot, lettuce, onions and various herbs. The farmer would have a bigger garden because mangolds were needed to feed the cattle in winter and oats  had to be  sown to feed the horses that were the main source of power at the time. They pulled the carts and all the farm machinery so they had to be well looked after to  get the best out of them. Many farmers had an orchard of apple trees. There were two main types; cooking apples and eating apples. The cooking apples were usually green and a bit bigger than the eating apples that developed a reddish colour. Many is the fine pie that was made with apples straight from the orchard. The eating apples were far sweeter and a real treat for us as children if we were lucky  enough to be given one by a kindly neighbour. If you took an apple to school with you and produced it at the break you could be asked for a “bite” and then somebody would ask you to give them the “heart”. It was tantalising to watch somebody biting into a lovely apple with juice running down the chin while waiting impatiently for the core to be handed over. Sometimes there would be a nice bit of fruit left but, more often than not,  seeds and scraps of skin were all we got. Apples remind me of an episode that occurred when I was a young lad. Nell Gleeson lived just down the road from where we lived. In the summertime her grandson Barthy O’Driscoll would come on holidays from England and since he was roughly the same age as myself, we hung out together. One fine summer’s  day we went over to the metal bridge and went along the river bank towards  Sugar Hill. Barthy had an air rifle and we imagined we were two great hunters looking for something to  shoot. We did manage to put pellets into tree trunks and mortally wounded a few leaves but  we didn’t get a shot at any living thing. After a while we got fed up and decided to rob John James Woulfe’s  orchard which wasn’t too far up from the river. Like a couple of  marauding Red Indians we made our way stealthily by the ditch making as little sound as possible until we reached the orchard wall. Pausing only for a moment to make sure there was nobody around or a dog to surprise us we climbed over the wall and started to fill our pockets with apples that were plentiful on the ground. Carrying as many as we could we went back over the wall and  beat a hasty retreat back down to the river. We sat on the river bank and gorged ourselves with as many apples as we could. Quite proud of  ourselves we eventually headed home and then the trouble started. I began to have sharp pains in my stomach which I thought had become the size of a house. My mother noticed my grimaces  and the fact that I was doubled over sometimes with the cramps that caused me to fear for my life, and she asked me what I had eaten. Now,  honesty is the best policy they say but not if it causes you to get  a good walloping so, I  did what any young fellow would do in my situation – I lied!  I told her I had eaten “sour leaves” that I found on a ditch. We sometimes ate them on the way to or from school but only a mouthful and certainly not enough to cause the type of agony I was experiencing. Anyway she swallowed it and  dosed me with copious amounts of milk of magnesia and Andrews liver salts.  It didn’t work for a long time and when it finally did, the cure was nearly as bad as the disease. The sickness came, vomiting and  diarrhoea until I was so weak that I fell asleep at last. The following morning I was none the worse for my exploits and I thought I had got away with it but no such luck. Barthy had the same stomach  problems as I had but there was a difference; Nell Gleeson had no  trouble getting him to admit that he had eaten apples and, worse still, where they came from. When Nell came to our well for her daily bucket of water she, of course, told my mother the whole story. Suffice to say I wasn’t too comfortable sitting down for a while and apples were definitely off the menu for the foreseeable future.

Times have moved on.  Very few people plant a garden any more and orchards have become scarce as well. I do miss the taste of the vegetables straight from the garden . There was a freshness about them and of course they were completely free of any chemicals. We ate everything from the land except the mangolds although  we probable could have. A well known man in Ballybunion, who had one of the first chip vans in the country, was at a carnival in Ballyduff one night. Business was so good that, around midnight, he ran out of spuds. Thinking on his feet he sent one of his helpers into a nearby field to pick a few mangolds which he cut into chips and fried them in the deep fat. The lads, after a few pints,  never knew the difference and, to the best of anyone’s knowledge, nobody died or were carted off to hospital as a result. The chip van owner said the only difference between the mangolds and the spuds was that the mangolds would turn green if they weren’t eaten quickly!