Roll on next year!
Committee members hard at work rolling up the carpet on Monday morning in the Sports Hall
Ralph (from England), Timmy Flavin, Patrick Langan, Jack Quaid, Con Fitzgerald,
Francie Flavin, Jerry Brouder & Jimmy Kelly

Well Done Athea

By Domhnall de Barra

After all the months of  planning and all the hard work, the Fleadh has come and gone. What a fantastic festival it was and a great lift for our community. From the time it started with the story-telling on Wednesday night to the final sessions on Monday it was a huge success. The story-telling was a new venture and beforehand we did not know how it would go but we need not have worried, it was well attended and the story-tellers, led by the renowned Frances Kennedy from Listowel, kept the large crowd spellbound and in stitches in equal measure. On Thursday we were in more familiar territory with the singing with Catherine Broderick but again this surpassed all our expectations. The place was full up but every singer got great attention and appreciation. No fewer than 32 singers performed from young girls of school-going age to auld codgers like myself!  Thanks to the Top of the Town also who provided food on both nights, free of charge. On to Friday and the prayers for good weather were heard. It was a lovely evening for the official opening in The Square and the Wrenboys exhibition that followed. Again a large crowd enjoyed the music, song and dance despite the attention of some very active midges. Sessions followed in the pubs into the small hours and a good time was had by all.

Saturday morning came and  the real test of the organising committee. Had we all the venues ready; were there enough stewards to control traffic, man doors, sell wristbands and programmes etc. ?  There was a frenzy of messages back and forth on whatsapp  but everything fell into place and all the competitions got under way. The rain kept off and this gave competitors an opportunity to practice outdoors before their competitions. It was great to see a piper playing down at the pagoda while a group got together across from the school. Everywhere  was full of musical activity and people were in a good mood.  The school, in particular was a hive of activity with musicians going up and down corridors looking for the rooms that held their competitions. Chaotic it might have seemed but it was organised chaos and everything went off smoothly. This activity was repeated on Sunday  which wasn’t as good weather-wise but it did not make much rain and there wasn’t a hitch. The céilithe on Saturday and Sunday nights saw the hall full of set-dancers enjoying the music of Striolán Céilí Band  and Taylor’s Cross, two of the best bands in the business.  So, the serious stuff was over and Monday morning was roll up the sleeves time and get all the venues back to the state they were in before the whole thing started. Many hands make light work and it was soon accomplished. The weather finally caught up with us on Monday afternoon and that put a damper on the street entertainment competition. Despite the bad weather two groups turned up and performed in two of the pubs instead of the street. When the judging was done the two groups combined for a lovely session which lasted well into the night. I relaxed a bit myself and had a drink or three while we had a mighty session in Batt’s Bar to finish up the festival.

It truly was a great weekend and the feedback from those who came from all over Limerick and other neighbouring counties was very positive. They could not get over how well the village looked (take a bow Tidy Towns Committee) and the friendliness and helpfulness of the Athea people. It is safe to say there was a buzz about the place that put everyone in good humour. The pubs did a roaring trade as did the shop and the foods outlets. The catering for the Fleadh was second to none provided by Colleen Reidy and Brown Joe’s.  Alas the chef at Brown Joe’s had an accident on Sunday afternoon which resulted in a broken leg. We wish him a speedy recovery.

Yes, it was a great weekend but this did not happen by accident. So many people put in so many hours preparing for the weekend. I won’t start naming names but I will say this. I have worked for Comhaltas for most of my life and have been involved in organising Fleadh Cheoil’s at County, Regional and All-Ireland level and I have never worked with a better team. They were so willing to work and nothing was too much for them from the time we started looking for ads for the programme to the clean-up on Monday. A sincere thank you to you all; you have done Athea proud.  Our sponsors too were more than willing to support us and made the holding of the event a possibility. They deserve our support in return.

A big thank you to all who helped in any way to make our dream a reality. Our dream was to put our village and parish on the map  and show what we are capable of doing. I think we achieved that and that music, song and dance will continue to flourish as a result

There is one person who should be thanked. His name is Ralph and he travelled all the way from London on a scooter to sample the Fleadh atmosphere.  Instead of wandering around he put on a high-vis jacket and worked as a steward all through the weekend. Thanks Ralph for being part of the team and we hope you enjoyed your visit to Athea.

A bit of a damper was the break-in at Margaret Carroll’s and Ned Gould’s. Unfortunately these  criminals are always in our midst just looking for an opportunity. We hope the Gardaí will be successful in bringing them to justice.

Friday evening trad session in front of the mural











Hurling club sponsor Tom O’Mahony MD of Maylim, London and his son with Fr. Brendan Duggan and Derek Byrne

Hurling Club Sponsor Billy Collins of Knocknagorna with Pat O’Sullivan, Mike Cunningham, County Coaching Officer and Paul Curry at the recent launch day.