Domhnall de Barra was busy capturing snow scenes at the back of his house in Cratloe

Athea Forestry Co-op Meeting

A very important meeting of Athea Forestry Co-op will be held at the Top of the Town on Wednesday next, Feb. 6th at 8 pm. Matters of vital importance will be decided. All shareholders are invited to attend. Secretary   

Athea Drama Group

Bookings can now be made for Athea Drama Group’s 2019 production of ‘The Lonesome West’ by calling/texting 087 2743189 stating your name, no. of tickets required and the date you wish to attend.  We will operate a open seating booking policy where those booked will choose their own seats. The play will be staged at Con Colbert Hall, Athea on Feb 7th, 9th, 10th, 14th, 16th & 17th at 8pm with doors open from 7pm. Play is recommended for over 12s due to strong language and adult themes throughout.

Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann

A meeting will be held at the Top of the Town on Monday night next at 8pm.

All members are asked to attend.

Comhaltas traditional music classes continue at the library on Tuesday evenings at 5.30pm. Brian Scannell, an All-Ireland champion from Abbeyfeale, is the tutor with most instruments catered for.

Anybody interested in joining the class should come long at 5.30 any Tuesday evening. With the Fleadh in Athea this year it would be great to have some young people from the area to carry on the proud musical tradition Athea has become famous for.

Contact our Hon Sec.  Gráinne Ahern on  087 752 7127

Be Alert

One morning last week, a local woman was returning to her home when she met a car with three youngish men coming around the back of her house. They said they were looking for Horgan’s garage but what would have happened if she had not disturbed them?  So, be aware and report any suspicious activity to the Gardaí immediately.

Worrying Times

by Domhnall de Barra

We live in a fast-changing world that sometimes is hard to keep up with as every day brings something new. Advances in technology have enhanced our lives and given us new gadgets that make life that bit easier. International travel has improved and the world has become a much smaller place. I remember when I was in my teens hearing of a neighbour going to Australia. The only way to go was by passenger ship and the journey took 6 weeks to complete. Going to England by train and boat took over 24 hours, roughly the same time it now takes to fly to Australia. We can use skype and facetime to talk to friends and relations anywhere on the globe and watch them on the screens of our phones and tablets. If we need to find out about anything we just have to “google” it and the answer is there. Likewise with online shopping which gives us  a huge choice of goods to choose from.

I recently had to replace two EGR valves in my Land Rover. The cost of the two in Ireland was €900. By searching the net I got them in Germany and they were delivered to my door at a total cost of €103. Now, that was some saving but we also need to be careful. The internet has given new opportunities to criminals who can pose as genuine traders and take all the money out of our bank accounts. We are fast approaching a time when paper money will be just a memory. Even now it is difficult to buy anything with notes over a couple of thousand. It will make it more difficult to launder money and will affect the black economy. We just have to adjust to these changes no matter how much we want to stop the world so that we can get off. Since the end of the 2nd World War we have had a more peaceful time but that is now in danger with the behaviour of the US, Russia and China in particular. I am old enough to remember the cold war between Russia and the USA and how close we came to a nuclear war that would have spelled the end of the world for us. There was an arms race with both nations trying to build bigger and better bombs and missiles. At one stage, Russian warships were heading for Cuba to launch an attack on the US but president Kennedy held his nerve and, at the last minute, they turned back. Common sense prevailed and eventually a treaty was arranged where both nations agreed to curtail their nuclear activity and the arms race was over. Now Trump says he wants to pull out of that arrangement and go back to building up the supply of arms.  Putin of course will follow suit and we will be back to the bad old days. Make no mistake, these two leaders are dangerous men who lose no opportunity to boost their already inflated egos and are quite capable of pressing the button that will end in total destruction. Let us hope that wiser heads will prevail and these lunatics will not be allowed to bring the world to the brink again. I was hoping to say that we have moved on as a nation and that we are now more open to diversity than ever before.

The divorce and gay marriage referendums have shown that the people are more enlightened and I thought our politicians were too until I saw an article in one of the Sunday papers recently about plans the department of justice had to award some money to Joanne Hayes, the woman from Kerry who was wrongly accused of murdering her baby in 1984.  She was treated badly by agents of the state who sought to make the crime fit a theory they had and they went so far as to persuade members of the Hayes family, simple country people, to admit to a crime they did not commit. I met Joanne during the trial in Dublin. I was playing in a place called Kitty O’Shea’s on Grand Canal Street at the time and she came in with her solicitor Patrick Mann one night. Patrick came from Abbeyfeale originally so we got chatting and he introduced me to Joanne who came across as a very shy, timid individual who was no more capable of murdering her own baby than I was. The trial fell apart when forensic evidence proved that the baby in question was not Joanne’s at all. The damage, however, had been done and she and her family have had to live with that ever since. A couple of Taoisigh and ministers for justice apologised over the years but, even though it was obvious that the police work in the case left much to be desired, nobody was held to account and no compensation was paid. Now the payment mooted comes with strings attached. A confidentiality clause will have to be signed also  a waiver from taking any future action against the state. The payment is not an admission of liability on the government’s part and is not deemed to be compensation. It is the same old story; protect the institution at all costs. This is what happened when priests were found guilty by their bishops of sexual crimes against minors in their diocese. Instead of reporting them to the Gardaí immediately they were just moved on to different areas to continue with their abuses. Victims of crime were less important than the institution and now our politicians are acting in the very same manner. It is time to call a halt. Joanne Hayes should be paid compensation and the government should hold its hands up and admit that she and her family were treated very badly, without any conditions whatsoever. Forget about confidentiality clauses and the likes and don’t add insult to injury. That family have suffered enough..

On a brighter note. Valentine’s Day is almost upon us so the sales of flowers, chocolates and wine will soar. It is nice to get a gift but the best gift of all is love.