Happy St. Patrick’s Day to all at home and abroad 

Variety Concert in aid of Athea Lourdes Invalid Fund

In St. Bartholomew’s Church, Athea on Sunday, march 31st at 7pm. Tickets at €10 each are available locally.

The Concert will feature Emily Clarke (Limerick Mid-West Radio 102) plus Niamh Mulqueen & Friends, Donie & Maura, Mike Guinane, Margaret Carroll & group, Brid Stackpoole, Athea Church Choir, Domhnall de Barra & Friends, Fr. Tony Mullins, Dancers, Ciara Hunt, Eoin Sheehan & Maeve Donovan.

O’Riordan’s Pharmacy Athea

Are holding a Coffee/Tea morning in aid of Daffodil Day on Friday, March 22nd 2019. All donations of  baked goodies kindly received. All welcome.

Mick Mackey Draw

Tickets are now on sale for the Mick Mackey Draw at €100 each. Contact Kathleen on 087-1233361

Proud to be Irish

By Domhnall de Barra

A very happy St. Patrick’s Weekend to all. Yes, it is a time for people all over the world to join with us in celebrating our national feast day. It is hard to believe that a little country like Ireland, that could be lost into one of the states in America, can have such a high profile throughout the world at this time. To understand it we have to look back at our history and the fact that, due to oppression, famine and poverty, we had no option but to take to the emigrant trail and go to countries overseas to try and make a living. We are not unique in that of course as many other nations had similar experiences but there is something about the Irish spirit that drives us to success. The first emigrants did not have it easy. Most of them were uneducated and had to accept menial jobs and suffer prejudice to feed their families. Other nations looked down on them, especially in England where they were regarded as illiterate bog people who were only one step up from animals. Even up to the middle of the last century it was not uncommon to see notices in the windows of boarding houses that read: “No dogs, no blacks, no Irish”.  Anything that did not make sense or was thought to be stupid was referred to as being “a bit Irish”. They had a mountain to climb but they were determined to do so and the first thing they did was ensure that their children got a good education. Through their hard work and diligence they gradually gained respect and got involved in their communities. As time went by they entered business and politics and became pillars of their communities. Through all this time they maintained a link with the homeland and created “homes from home” by having their own social clubs where they gathered every weekend to meet and immerse themselves in the culture they were raised with through music, song,  dance and drama. They also played hurling and football and were proud of who they were and where they came from. Through all this they never forgot the families they had left behind and regularly sent parcels home with clothes and other items to help them out. There are many, still living today. who will remember the “parcel from America” and the excitement of ripping away the cord held together with wax and the brown paper to reveal the goodies within. They also sent money, something that helped the country get off its knees and become the vibrant place we have today.

In general the Irish had large families so, over the years, the numbers grew and the Irish influence became much stronger. In America, in particular, they took up office in the administration of towns and cities all the way up to when John F. Kennedy, whose people came from Wexford, was elected President of the USA. St. Patrick’s Day always played a big part in the lives of the Irish who created festivals around the event and paraded through the streets of their towns and cities dressed in the national colours and displaying Irish emblems. This caught the imagination of the general public and soon the Irish were joined in their celebrations by friends and admirers who had no contact with Ireland but wanted to become honorary citizens for the day. The custom has grown to such an extent that there is hardly a major city in the world that will not have an Irish parade next Sunday. Rivers will even be turned green and green beer will be drank in pubs to celebrate the occasion. Perhaps their is a little too much drink involved in the festivities but in general people are just out for a good time so, what harm!.

What are we celebrating anyway?  Is it about St. Patrick anymore, I wonder. St. Patrick is attributed with bringing the Catholic Faith to Ireland and is our national Saint. The celebrations should then be of  a religious nature but I am afraid that day is well and truly gone. Next Sunday we will see parades featuring everything but religious themes but it has become a symbol in itself of Irishness and a sense of pride for us all.

This week we are also celebrating “Seachtain na Gaeilge” when our native tongue will be to the fore on many programmes and papers. Some people will question having anything to do with the language saying it is a dead language and should be dropped in schools in favour of other foreign languages that may be more beneficial when abroad. Well, for a start, it is far from being a dead language as it is spoken daily in many parts of our Island called the Gaeltacht. There is also a big increase in attendances in gaelscoileanna, especially in urban areas, where all subjects, except English, are taught through Irish which is also the only medium of communication in the schools. My own grandchildren attended the gaelscoil in Newcastle West and they had no problem using the language from the word go. Unfortunately, outside of the gaelscoileanna, the teaching of Irish leaves a lot to be desired. It is treated merely as an exam subject and it is safe to say that it is hated by many of the pupils who are “forced” to learn it. We must be realistic and understand that Irish will never again be the spoken language in our country but that should not stop us having a knowledge of a beautiful language that was spoken by every Irish citizen up to the beginning of the last century.  It is part of what we are and we should all try and use whatever “cúpla focail” we have whenever the opportunity arises.

So, enjoy the rest of the week, wear your badges and emblems with pride and don’t forget the shamrock, the plant St. Patrick used to explain the Blessed Trinity.