Nicole O’Sullivan who recently graduated from IT Tralee with a first class honours degree in Health and Leisure with Massage pictured with her parents Sandra and Noel.

Church Gate Collection

The Church gate collection for the Christmas Street Lighting will take place on Saturday 16th & Sunday 17th November at both masses. Street lighting is expensive, with bulb replacements, erection and ESB costs that continue for the whole year,  but it is really worth having it to brighten up the village during the Christmas period. Your support, as always, would be very much appreciated.

Athea Utd Soccer Awards Night

The schoolboys and girls, Awards Night will take place on Friday night week,  22nd November, in the Top of the Town at 9:30pm. Music entertainment on the night will be provided by DJ Pat O’Donnell. Sure to be a great night for all involved.

St. Vincent de Paul Collection

The Annual St. Vincent De Paul collection will take place on Saturday, November 30th & Sunday, December 1st at both Masses. Your support would be appreciated.


A huge well done to all our wonderful young singers who competed in Glin and all qualified for the Munster Finals of Ceol an Gheimhridh.
All these young ladies are under the guidance of our local Singing tutor Catherine Broderick Murphy.
Classes take place in the Library on Thursday evenings at 6.45pm. New members always welcome.
English Singing (Faoi 11)
1st Caoimhe Ní Eacheirn, CCÉ, Áth an tSléibhe
2nd Máirín Ní Fhiaich, CCÉ, Áth an tSléibhe
English Singing (11-14)
1st Adelle Ní Shúilleabháin, CCÉ, Áth an tSléibhe
Amhránaíocht as Gaeilge (11-14)
1st Cáit Ní Chonchúir CCÉ, Teampall an Ghleanntáin, attends our classes in Athea

Growing up with Gay Byrne

By Domhnall de Barra

The passing of Gay Byrne last week brought to mind the great changes this country went through during his broadcasting lifetime. He was, without doubt, a master of his profession and the many tributes paid to him by colleagues and the general public were well deserved.

To say that we grew up with him is not far from the truth because when RTE began, back in the middle of the last century, Ireland, and rural Ireland in particular, was in a very different place. I remember the first TV we got. It was in black and white and was only on for a few hours a day at the beginning. It wasn’t that new to me because I had been to England during the school holidays and had seen my aunt Nora’s television but the rest of my family were enthralled by it. It was a bit like the BBC at the time with very stern looking newscasters and continuity personnel speaking in very “proper” voices. These became the first real celebrities and people like Charles Mitchell were looked up to around the country. The content of the programmes was harmless, to say the least, with great emphasis on a holy Catholic Ireland.  The influence of the church could be seen even in organisations like the GAA. At hurling finals the ball would be thrown in by the Archbishop. And “Faith of our Fathers” was also sung. At that time, in this area, 99% of the people were Roman Catholic and went to church for Mass on Sundays. Indeed it was a big occasion when people dressed in their best clothes and men had a shave, probably the only one of the week. The priest had his back turned to the congregation and said the Mass in Latin. We couldn’t understand a word of what was being said but some people had missals which had the Mass in English. The size of the missal was in direct proportion to the affluence and social standing of the owner. I got a small one that didn’t look too impressive but it had all the translations in it and that did the job for me. Women had to have their heads covered and men the opposite. They also sat in different sides of the church. We called them the men’s aisle and the women’s aisle and though there was no hard and fast rule about it, it was a brave man who would venture into the wrong side.

Priests had a lot of power in those days and some of them frightened the people with sermons about sins and occasions of sin that would land them in the burning fires of hell forever if they weren’t careful. Sins of the flesh were particularly frowned upon to such an extent that anything to do with physical contact, even between husband and wife, could not be spoken of. Women would even be ashamed when they became pregnant and try to hide the fact for as long as possible and these were the married ones! The poor unfortunates who became pregnant outside of wedlock were thought to bring shame on the family and many of them were packed off to convents and workhouses. If normal sex wasn’t spoken about there certainly was no mention of homosexuality. Not only was it a terrible sin but it was also a crime at the time so those who, through no fault of their own, were born that way had to be very careful and most of them lived a life of misery and denial.

There was also a lot of poverty around at the time. The years following World War 2 were lean ones with very little industry in the country which was denuded by emigration. This was the country that RTE came into and for a while it mirrored the state of the nation. Then came the Late Late show and, for the first time, topics that up to then were taboo, were suddenly being discussed. By today’s standards they were harmless enough but were a huge breakthrough at the time. Some people didn’t like it, one politician famously said that there was no sex in Ireland until the Late Late Show, but the vast majority of those who watched religiously every week were delighted with this newfound freedom of expression.

People were also getting more educated due to the foresight of a Limerick politician, Donagh O’Malley who made secondary education free for everyone. The world was changing fast and Ireland had to change with it. Once the change started there was no stopping it and now we are one of the most liberal nations in the world. Many would contend that we have gone too far but isn’t better to be like that than to condemn pregnant girls to slavery and deprive them of their babies and cause mental anguish and persecution to those of us with a different sexual persuasion.?

Yes, Gay Byrne was king of the airways, a product of his time who wasn’t afraid to push the agenda that bit further all the time and he brought many hours of happiness and enlightenment to his audience.

The week of his passing was filled with tributes to him but, as I was listening to it all I thought; why on earth did they not do that while he was still alive?  It wasn’t as if he died suddenly, he was ill for quite some time, so there was ample time to arrange a programme in his honour. We shouldn’t have to wait until people are dead  to speak well of them, that is why a programme like Eamon Andrews’ “This is your Life” was so important. It gave people a chance to celebrate the life and times of people who mattered while they were able to appreciate it. It is too late when they are gone.