At the launch of the Athea Hurling Club on Sunday last with the McCarthy Cup were Paddy Dalton, Conor Mullane & Tommy Carroll

Nellie Ahern and Eilish Geoghegan

John, Pat and Liam!





Death Notice

The death has occurred of Maurice R. Woulfe, Santa Fé, New Mexico and formerly of The Glen, Cratloe, Abbeyfeale, Co. Limerick. Funeral Service on Saturday, June 8th at 11.a.m. in St. Barthlomew’s Church, Athea. Internment of ashes afterwards in Templeathea Cemetery. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.

Afternoon Tea Dance

There will be an Afternoon Team at the Top of the Town, Athea on Wednesday, June 5th at 3pm. Music by Ger Connaghan and a raffle. Adm. €5.  For more information contact Peggy Casey 087-9416223, Mary T. Mulvihill 087-2708603, Máireád Langan 086-6407026.

Church Gate Collection

There will be a collection on Saturday 15th/Sunday16th June for Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children, Crumlin. Your support would be very much appreciated.

Athea Welcomes Fleadh

WHEN THE Hawthorn tree is in blossom, and the Cuckoo calls, it is time for the annual Limerick Fleadh Cheoil, which takes place over the June Bank Holiday weekend.  Athea is the venue this year, and an action-packed programme of events has been put in place for traditional music lovers by the host Comhaltas branch. A lot of outdoor events will be held and if the sun shines it promises to be a wonderful weekend. The county Fleadh has been held there eight times since 1975, and in 2001 it was chosen to host the event in a very special  year celebrating 50 years of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann. 2002 was the last time the pretty village by the Banks of the flowing Galey hosted the annual event.

The river that flows under the magnificent footbridge has been immortalised in song and story by many writers including the late Dan Keane. I quote the first verse from his composition titled The Galey.

By Rooska’s rugged regions the gleaming Galey rose

From marsh and heather mountain, it freely forward flows

To leave Glenduff’s black valley on its journey to the shore

As the glittering Glasha Bealtaine joins in  at Glenagore.

The plaque on the footbridge reads as follows

Athea Footbridge

Dedicated to the memory of Pope Paul 11


Opened June 10th, 2005 by

Most Reverend Donal Murray D.D.

Athea is a pretty little village nestling at the bottom of a valley at the north side of the high ridge of Dromada which runs westwards from the Ardagh direction. Only about two miles from the Kerry border. Athea stands at an important  crossroads,  where the road from Glin to Abbeyfeale crosses the road from Rathkeale to Listowel. The name Athea is generally taken to derive from the Irish Ath an tSléibhe, meaning “the Ford of the High Moorland”.

As well as being a village, Athea is also a parish. Up to comparatively recent times however, the parish was not  known as Athea but as Rathronan. Rathronan was a huge parish comprising, according to Lewis (Topographical Dictionary of Ireland), 18,153 statute acres. At the time Lewis speaks of (1837), 1,000 acres of the parish were under tillage. 5000 acres were meadow and rich pasture, and the remainder consisted of mountain pasture, plantation  and turbary. The land in the eastern portion – towards Ardagh – was Lewis states “of good quality being based on a substratum of limestone and produces  excellent crops under a good system of cultivation”.

We do not know when the village of Athea came into existence, but it appears on an estate map  of 1710. At that time, it would have been a very isolated village, situated in a wild and largely inaccessible  country. The road from Glin to Abbeyfeale, which now passes through it, had yet not been constructed, nor would it be for another 120 years or so. In fact, it was the building of that road that was to prove the principal factor in the development of Athea.

The famous Gaelic poet, Micheál Óg O’Longáin – whose father was a steward  to the Knight of Glin in the latter part of the 18th century – was born in County Cork, but, when growing up, returned for some time to his father’s  native district and opened a hedge school in the neighbourhood of Athea. Sixpence a quarter was the fee he charged his pupils; but they proved very bad payers, so much so that a very bitter and disappointed Micheál Óg penned this quatrain about them:

Miserable my business and poor and impoverished my calling

Teaching the young, and not well  do they pay me

I promise ye, every immature youthful boor in the country

That “twill be long before my likes comes among them again.

Athea was noted for its athletes and two won world-wide fame. Dan Ahearne established a World record in the Hop Step and Jump event and won numerous titles in America. His younger brother Tim, a sprinter, hurdler and high-class jumper, won an Olympic gold medal in the Hop Step and Jump event in London in 1908.

A focal point in the village is their community hall which is named after Con Colbert one of the executed leaders of the 1916 Rising.  He was born in Monalena, Castlemahon but he spent his youth in Athea. The President of Ireland Erskine Childers officially opened it on January 20th 1974.

Famous people associated with Athea include author Kevin Danaher who worked  for the Irish Folklore Commission collecting folklore and recorded it in ten books. Maighréad McGrath a renowned historian  who was at the forefront in promoting all Athea’s history. Domhnall De Barra a past President of Comhaltas Ceoltoirí Eireann, and a member of the present committee who are organising this year’s Fleadh.

Timmy Woulfe, a former school master, who has been involved in a positive way with most of the parish organisations. He is highly regarded in Set Dancing circles at present as a teacher and a collector of our past dances. He was a member of the Athea set dancers who won the All Ireland Senior Scór final in 1978, with his wife Nancy, Pat and Gretta Enright, Joe Murphy, Margaret Cotter, Tim O’Keeffe and Mary Barry. The following is the second verse of Pat Brosnan’s ballad about their win.

‘Twas the Scór competition of seventy-eight

Those dancers they practised both early and late

They won out the West and the County hands down

Then they went on to capture the big Munster Crown.

While the Fleadh Cheoil will be in full swing, Athea native Tom Moran will be  involved in an abseil down the Red Cow Hotel in Dublin. Tom has enjoyed an action-packed life, from growing up in Knocknagorna in rural Athea, to becoming the first publican in the country to pay over one million for the Red Cow Pub in 1988. Three years ago, a stroke caused Tom to sustain a fall whilst on holiday in Spain causing a significant injury to his head. He underwent a craniotomy and spent 6 weeks in an induced coma in Carlos Haya Regional Hospital in Malaga before being air-lifted back to St James Hospital under the care of neurologist Dr Colin Doherty. He spent  a total of 312 days in hospital and he has defied all odds and has made an incredible recovery.

Tom is getting stronger daily and is excited about the abseil with family members and friends. On  Sunday, June 2 to mark the 3rd anniversary of his near-fatal brain injury  he will abseil down the 9-storey extension of the family Hotel. Tom’s goal is to help the hospital that helped him to make a positive recovery, and his aim is to raise €200k to build a dedicated Brain Disease Resource and Research Centre at St. James’s Hospital.   He will be joined by his wife Sheila and children and we wish all a safe landing.

The village of Athea  at present has a lot to recommend it to visitors who will flock in their thousands to enjoy its musical heritage this weekend. They will be able to visit the Fairy Trail and admire the wall murals. The Tidy Town Committee recently erected 20  place name signs around the village, and beyond, which connect to make a lovely walk.

There is something about Athea as a venue for a Fleadh, as it has an atmosphere of its own. This is due in no small way to the hospitality of the local people who know what a Fleadh is all about and make the visitor feel at home. They are proud to host the near long week festival which attracts people from all corners of the county and beyond.  Enjoy the experience.

A Few Thoughts

By Domhnall de Barra

I am just back from a trip to Copenhagen for my granddaughter Mia’s confirmation. It was a great weekend for Noreen and myself as our whole family were together for the first time. The confirmation is quite different with only five teenagers receiving the sacrament. Each one is given their own time slot and treated individually and the reception afterwards was like a wedding. All the lads brought their instruments so we had a mighty session at Danjoe’s house until the small hours of the morning. The only set back was the travelling and the airport in Copenhagen on the way back in particular. It was crowded as the new section won’t be open for another month. It took 40 minutes or so to get through security and a further 35 minutes to get through passport control. Its a long time to be standing in a queue especially suffering the after effects of a party! Dublin airport, on the other hand, was fairly easy. It was worth it all though.

Because of my absence I didn’t get to vote on Friday so I wasn’t much good to any of the candidates who called to the house beforehand. Congratulations to our local men, John Sheahan, Liam Galvin and Francis Foley who were all re-elected. Fair play to them, they have done some great work in the area and are always available to help. They can all talk the talk but it is those who walk the walk who are successful.  It is a big change in West Limerick to see four Fine Gael candidates being elected. This was always a Fianna Fáil stronghold, in fact there was a time  when a dog running for them would be guaranteed success! I suppose this was due to the influence of Gerry Collins and his father Jim before him but times change as Sinn Féin found out to their cost. They took a serious hammering country wide and have to really take stock and decide  their best policies if they want to reach out to the voters in future. One good thing about the election was the absence of posters – great idea. Not so in Kerry. I play golf in Castleisland and both sides of the road from Abbeyfeale back are plastered with posters of Jackie Healy Rea. You are bombarded with a big set of shiny teeth grinning at you every hundred yards of the road.  If I was in that area it would put me off voting for him but I hear he topped the poll so the dynasty lives on. Another thing I would like to see done away with is door to door canvassing. It is an awful strain on candidates to try and cover a huge area seeking votes and I wonder if it really makes a difference. The only thing is, as it stands nobody can afford not do it because everyone else is. Would it not be better to have a series of meetings in local towns and villages where each candidate would get an opportunity to make their case and let the public decide who to vote for. The vast majority of people have their mind made up in advance no matter what they may say on the doorstep.


The fgamily of Noreen and Domhnall Barry of Cratloe gathered in Copenhagen for granddaughter Mia's Confirmation

Right:  The family of Noreen and Domhnall de Barra, Cratloe, gathered in Copenhagen for Danjoe’s daughter Mia’s Confirmation