Assembled team of VIPs, as Pat Shingleton said (Very Important Paddies)
L-R Deacon Robert, Siobhan Moroney, Carla Kusch, Fr Mike Moroney (Parade Grand Marshal) Deacon Beau.
All ready for the off

Float getting readied

Corporate T-Shirt

St Patrick Parade Baton Rouge Style                            from Rodge Byrne

Athea native Fr Mike Moroney, Pastor of St Alphonsus Church, Greenwell Springs, Baton Rouge, Louisiana was pleased to accept the very prestigious role of Grand Marshal for the 34th “Wearing of the Green”, St Patrick’s Parade which occurred on Saturday, 16th March in Baton Rouge. Originally started by Irish-American, Patrick Shingleton (Pat) (staff member of WBRZ TV station) some 34 years ago with a few floats – No road closures and few meetings in an Irish pub, has grown to almost match the Mardi Gras New Orleans. Siobhan (his sister) Aedan (nephew) and I visited for the week with the high point being the parade. This was the first time a priest was selected. We enjoyed Pat Shingleton’s  opening announcement, live on WBRZ TV, alluding to Mike’s high profile of being involved in such good works across the communities that he has influenced during his distinguished 40 + years as a priest across a number of Parishes.


So what’s so unusual? Well the convention in Louisiana and Mardi Gras particularly, is that personnel on the floats throw various coloured beads – necklaces, with what seems to be, a limitless range – type’s, designs to the onlookers. Indeed the public clamour as the floats pass to see how many beads they can catch! It was very different to any other floats I have ever been on and was a brilliant encounter with so many expectant adults and children waiting for arrival of the Floats. As you can imagine the Americans do everything in style and with great panache. We travelled the few miles or so ably escorted by Police from Central downtown, along with a contingent of the Sherriff’s Department and at one point State Troopers were involved. Everything for all eventuality seemed to be accounted for.

It was an amazing spectacle and is available to see (if you wish to)

Thank You

A huge thank you to all who contributed so generously to Daffodil Day in Athea last Friday. It was a huge success with over €1,500 raised between the Coffee Morning at O’Riordan’s Pharmacy and the work of Gretta Enright and Ann O’Keeffe who stood out in the cold last Friday morning selling daffodils to raise funds for a very worthy cause.

Local helpers travelling to Lourdes:
Eoin Sheahan, Meadhbh O’Donovan & Aidan Curry
With Fr. Brendan Duggan & committee members

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.

West Limerick Mental Health Association

Are having their AGM on 2nd April @8pm. This is being held in Maple Lodge Day Centre, Newcastlewest. We are a Voluntary organisation that aims to promote positive mental health and well-being in Limerick County. We deliver a range of mental health promotion activities throughout the year. We are always eager to welcome new members, so please join us on the night. All are welcome. No previous experience is necessary. Any queries please ring 068-31019. Refreshments  available.

Athea Tidy Towns

Our AGM took place on Tuesday March 19th at the Library. Chairperson Lal Browne welcomed everyone present to the meeting and praised the committee for the efforts throughout the year. Damien Ahern gave a report of the previous year’s activities and projects that are currently at planning stage. Treasurer Henry Moran provided us with a break-down of our accounts and opened the floor to any questions. The current officers then stepped down and the election of officers took place. Lal Browne was re-elected as chairperson, Henry Moran was re-elected as Treasurer and Damien Ahern was re-elected as secretary. However it was noted by the officers that these positions were held since 2012 and it is hoped to assign assistant officers in the coming weeks to ensure the long term sustainability of the group. The meeting ended with a slideshow of photographs from projects undertaken in 2018 and a quote from our lifetime president Thady Hunt ‘Good things happen when you have good people involved’

Tickets are now on sale for our upcoming fashion show on Wednesday April 17th at the Con Colbert Hall at 8pm. Tickets can be purchased from Collins’ Shop and O’Riordan’s Pharmacy or from any member of the committee. Ticket would make an ideal gift for Mother’s Day!!

Our heritage plaques continue to be erected at various sites throughout the village. Once complete, there will be 20 points in total. Work will begin shortly on producing the accompanying map which will be made available at local outlets and on our facebook page – Athea Tidy Towns.

We would like to express our thanks to Councillor John Sheahan who has donated €10,000 to Athea Tidy Towns towards the cost of purchasing new signage for each entry road leading into the village and other projects. This is a huge benefit to our group and once complete will create a nice impression as one enters the village. Designs are currently being considered and we look forward to having these signs erected before the upcoming County Fleadh.

Our group has also purchased some ‘Anti Fly Tipping’ signage which will be erected on each road leading into the village aiming to discourage littering on our roadsides.  These signs are in both English and Irish and will hopefully grab attention!

The Team Limerick Clean up will again take place on Good Friday. Supplies will be distributed at 9am at the hall. It is hoped a representative from each area will take part in the litter clean up on the day. Bags of litter can be dropped at the hall or collection can be arranged. For further information please contact Damien on 087 9042477

Thanks to the CE workers who are currently preparing Holy Cross Graveyard for the erection of three Benches near the new altar. These will be a welcome addition to the graveyard.

We are currently looking for some top soil for an upcoming project in the village. If you wish to donate some, please contact any member of the committee. All donations greatly appreciated.

Planning for our local competitions is at an advanced stage. We have 5 categories in total as well as an overall winner. To date we have secured sponsors for 3 trophies; Jim & Liz Dunn in honour of their daughter Pippa,  Chris & Rachael Grainger of Athea PC and The Casey O’Brien cup in honour of the Casey & O’Sullivan families of Lower Athea sponsored by Brigid, Hugh & Casey O’Brien & Kay O’Sullivan/Flynn. We are very grateful to our sponsors to date. We have three trophies remaining so if you would like to sponsor one, please contact any member of the committee as soon as possible.

A Time of Renewal

by Domhnall de Barra

Spring seems to have arrived at last (hope it isn’t a false dawn!) and there are signs of life around the countryside. With more daylight in the morning, the birds are starting their chorus earlier filling the air with beautiful music. My back garden is full of birds, mainly because we feed them through the winter months, who never seem to take a rest. They are constantly flying to and fro gathering food or material for a nest which they will fill with eggs in the near future. They are a joy to behold and I can’t help but envy them their freedom. Trees and bushes are budding and they too will add to the beauty of the area when they are covered in glorious foliage.  Spring is a time for renewal and hope after the dark days and bad weather we have just experienced. We are all infected with new enthusiasm and a hope that the future is brighter than the past. The windows are thrown open and the “spring cleaning” begins. Room after room is pulled apart and thoroughly cleansed of the dust and cobwebs. Walls may get a facelift of paint or wallpaper and we generally feel much better when it is done. The earth is now ready for planting so the spring work can begin. In olden days it was a time for going to the bog and getting the garden ready. There was also the job of “scouring” dykes to make sure the water was running freely and that drains on the land were not blocked. The old drains were made with stone and were very good but , in the middle of the last century, clay pipes were manufactured and they became the material for making drains all over the country. They were easy to lay, a narrow trench in the ground, but they were very brittle and easily broken. In hindsight they were probably the worst material pipes could be made from. Up to that time there was no heavy traffic in fields and meadows. The horse and cart was the only means of transporting fertiliser, hay , straw etc and as they could only manage so much weight they did not do any harm to the pipes below the ground. Times changed and the horse was replaced by the tractor and trailer that could carry far heavier loads and made impressions into the soil causing the pipes to burst  and stopping the flow of water. This left the land worse than before the draining was done and eventually all those drains had to be redone. A lot of corners were cut by unscrupulous contractors as well. There were very good grants for drainage at the time so there was a lot of work about. All the drains were supposed to be filled to the top with small stones or chips but sometimes there was only a camouflage near the surface to fool the inspector. If the stones were there the water would get through even if the pipes were broken. Things changed and the new plastic pipes were introduced and the inspections became more thorough so there was a great improvement. As well as scouring the dykes, all the growth along the ditches was cut back and they were left in a tidy state. Much of this work has been neglected in recent years and it is not uncommon to see briers and bushes overgrowing onto the land. There are environmentalists that say this is the way it should be and that we should not  interfere in any way with nature but we depend on the land for food both for animals and ourselves and every available square yard is important.

The biggest crop in the garden was the potatoes or spuds as we called them. Tuning taobhfóds to make the ridges was a back-breaking job and you could be guaranteed a good night’s sleep after a day digging the sods with a spade. A good spade was most important for this work as it was for another job – stripping the bog. In certain bogs there was a lot of growth near the surface with roots reaching down into the peat. Pushing a spade through this was difficult to say the least and, unless you had good edge, it could be nearly impossible. Yes, the work in the springtime was hard and even if you were tired and wanted a good night’s sleep you might not be able to as this is also the time for cows calving and they don’t operate a 9 – 5 policy.  No, most calves are born in the middle of the night and they need constant supervision. Life was tough  long ago but it was also very rewarding when the work was done, the calves ready for market and the place looking neat and tidy.

Spring also heralded the start of the fishing season. Back in the day, fishermen made a living out of fishing for salmon along the banks of the Feale in particular. These were often men who had spent the winter in England working on “the beet”   At the time there was a shortage of labour in the sugar factories so they recruited men from Ireland to cross the water and work for a few months turning beet into sugar. A good contingent from here did this every year. They might be home for Christmas but more often than not the campaign ran into the month of January. Anyway, many of these took up the fishing rod and spent their days along the banks of the river trying to catch the elusive salmon. There was a great price for salmon at the time so there was great joy in a household when a man returned from the river with a fish tail sticking out of his bag. Now, times have changed. There is no more scouring dykes; the mechanical digger has taken over, stripping sods are but a memory, again down to the invention of the turf machine and the salmon are so scarce in the river now that they are not worth being fished.  Yet we still welcome the spring, the sense of renewal it brings. and rejoice in its beauty, As Matthew put it:

Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: 29 yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one.