Lighting the candle in Lourdes for the Athea Parishioners, Peggy Casey, Bridie Murphy, Margaret Shine, Patsy Hayes, Mary B. Mullane, Bill Casey, Kathleen Mullane, Thady Hunt, Mary Broderick, Teresa O’Halloran, Fr. Duggan & Lisa Hunt

Athea Annual Day Trip

The Annual Athea Day Trip will take place on Tuesday, July 16th visiting Derryglad Folk and Heritage Museum, also shopping time in Athlone. Bus leaving Newcastle West at 7.45am via Templeglantine, Abbeyfeale, Athea 8.15 am Carrigkerry, Ardagh, Rathkeale, Adare, South Court. For further information contact Marie Wrenn 087-7674832

Joan Fitzgibbon 087-986-5005.

Cousin Fest

Re-union of Woods/Quills at Batt’s Bar on Tuesday, July 16th at 7pm. All are welcome.

Living with the Animals

By Domhnall de Barra

One thing I have noticed recently is the scarcity of flies and insects. Usually, at this time of year especially in calm weather, the air around us is full of all types of  flying creatures who are, for the most part, harmless. A fast drive in a car would result in the death of hundreds of these through collision with the windscreen leaving stains that are very difficult to remove but, even though there are still a few who get caught, they are vastly reduced in numbers. The common house fly and bluebottle are also getting scarce and the poor bumble bee is almost extinct. It must be the result of the lack of wild flowers and plants that have also almost disappeared. Modern ways of farming and the use of chemicals, not to mention the use of slurry on the land have succeeded in killing off the plants that gave  life to many small creatures. If the natural habitat is gone so are some of our most common species. Growing up we learned to live with animals of all sorts. Back in the day, before the advent of silage, meadows of hay were never cut until July. Every meadow was full of wild flowers and plants that attracted the attention of bees, flies and insects. The bees spread the pollen and generated new plants and nature was balanced.  Doors were always open at the time so the house was also full of flies, butterflies, spiders, “daddy longlegs” and creepy crawlies of all sorts. Little black beetles came in with the turf and they gave us great amusement when they  raced across the floor when we were saying the rosary. A wasp might make his way in but was quickly hunted down with a rolled up newspaper and he was lucky if he got out alive. It was a pity really because we feared the  sting he could give us but never though about the good work he was doing in the animal kingdom. The honey bee got better treatment when he ventured indoors and was usually ushered out alive. Bigger animals also invaded such as hens and ducks  and of course the place was always full of cats and dogs. These dogs and cats were not pets; they had to work for a living, the dogs herding cattle and sheep and the cats keeping down the rats and mice that were also in abundance. Some people today would say that the treatment of these cats and dogs was cruel especially in how their young were dealt with. They bred naturally and at regular intervals produced litters of  pups and “puisíns”. They could not all be kept so the vast majority were put into a bag and drowned in a nearby stream or in a barrel of water. It seems harsh now but in those days it was practical and necessary. And everybody understood that. Some farmers kept a sow for breeding bonhams. The litter was a very important part of the family finances so the sow had to be well minded. When it came near time for her to farrow, she was brought into the kitchen and bedded down by the wall. The smell was less than pleasant but the housework went on around the sow as if she wasn’t there. It was usually only for a day or two and as soon as the bonhams were born she was returned to the sty  and life returned to normal. Today, some people try to attribute human emotions to animals and try to treat them as human beings. By trying to do so they can unwittingly be the cause of creating cruelty to those they are tying to protect.  Activists raided a fur farm a few years ago and “liberated” thousands of minks who ran off into the wild. These may be portrayed as cuddly furry little creatures who would be happy in the wild but they are not. The mink is one of the most savage animals alive and is one of the few who will kill just for the pleasure of it. If a mink gets into a hen house he will kill every bird there, not because he needs to eat them but it is just in his nature. So, the animal rights activists, by releasing the mink, caused the unnessary slaughter of thousands of other creatures who had no defence to a predator who was not in his natural habitat. There are also those who keep “toy dogs”.  These small animals are dressed up in human attire and kept in flats and mainly city homes. They may be seen peeping out of handbags belonging to so called celebrities. They have birthday parties for them and even arrange dates with other dogs. One lately had a very elaborate wedding ceremony for the wedding of two dogs dressed in wedding outfits. I think that is very cruel to animals who are natural outdoor creatures and enjoy nothing better than the freedom of open spaces. It was fairly simple for us. We were told, and believed, that animals were put on the earth for man’s use and benefit so it follows that they would be used as such.  They were hunted and killed for the meat that sustained the families and some of the pelts were used to make clothes and tents. Larger animals like horses and oxen were used as beasts of burden and it was the natural order of things. As time went by, animal farming became more intensive and large numbers of cattle, sheep, goats etc were used to provide an income.  Some people now see this as wrong. I saw a poster lately with the message that farmers were taking away the “babies” from cattle leaving them traumatised. Vegans  want us to stop eating meat altogether so that we will not need to kill any more animals. There are even those who hold the opinion that we should all move to large towns and cities and leave the countryside to the animals altogether.  The reality is, however, that the animal kingdom is not a nice place where they all frolic and play, and live happily ever after. It is a kingdom with one rule: the survival of the fittest where one species will continually kill and eat another. We must treat our animals well and look after them but trying to make humans of them will not work.