by Domhnall de Barra

This week we have notes from Abbeyfeale (Marian Harnett), Knockanure (Jer Kennelly,  Knockdown (Peg Prendeville), Carrigkerry/Ardagh (Tom Aherne) with Kathleen’s Corner (Kathleen Mullane with items submitted by Damien Ahern and Noran Sexton and a short article by Johnny Quaid.

Next week sees another step on our road back to normality. It is very difficult to see how local pubs are going to be able to survive if they have to limit customers’ time, maintain social distancing and provide substantial meals. We will have to wait and see. The opening of Churches for Mass will be greatly welcomed by the general public but the restriction to 50 people is a joke. The smallest Church I know is in Gougán Barra and even there 50 people would be a very small crowd. I do not envy priests who will have to stop churchgoers at the door because the 50 places have been taken.  Having said that, i have seen the regulations blatently broken at some funerals recently where big crowds attended the church service and the burial so I suppose the 50 will become elastic and stretch a bit.

Th CE scheme are busy at the moment keeping the grass cut and the streets clean. It pays dividends because, no matter where I go, people are commenting on how well Athea is looking and what a great place it is for voluntary work. It makes me feel proud o be a part of it so well done to the Community Council, Tidy Twns and all the other organisations who work to make Athea a better place for us all. Keep up the good work

Hannah Scanlon, another exceptional woman from Athea celebrating her 98th birthday this weekend. Must be the good Athea air! Happy Birthday Hannah! (Thanks to Damien Ahern for the photo)


A wild and wicked race!

by Noran Sexton

It’s a long way from Lower Athea to Norway but for London-born Helen Mullane the possibility of competing at one of Europe’s most prestigious, yet gruelling, dog-sledding courses representing Ireland was something she could never have imagined. Helen, who is the daughter of Leo Mullane, originally from Lower Athea, and Caroline Dunne from Cavan, was first introduced to dog-sledding during a holiday to Tromso, Norway where she got the opportunity to try out the sport. Then, after a hectic period of work in the film industry she decided to take a few months out to learn how to train dogs in Norway and found herself with a new career. Over the past five years, Helen has lived in Norway, Alaska and Sweden where she has worked with some of the world’s top dog trainers, or ‘mushers’ as they are known as.

Helen signed up for the arduous race known to many but completed by few, where she would single-handedly drive a team of huskies across 650km of wild, snow-capped terrain with temperatures plummeting to -30C. After an intense training regime, race day arrived last February, and Helen, accompanied by her twelve huskies, set off from the start line of the Femundlopet course in Norway representing Ireland. To survive, she took short periods of rest huddled with her dogs to maximise body heat. Sleeping arrangements during the race involved Helen sleeping on her sled bag and the dogs sleeping out front with their coats and some straw. Four days later, and in very challenging conditions, she completed the race in 19th position. Helen now has her sights set on partaking at one of the world’s most famous courses in Alaska.

Helen was recently the subject of a documentary on RTE Radio One called the Long Run where she spoke about completing the challenging race. She has also been busy publishing a book called “Nicnevin and the Bloody Queen” which will hit shelves in Ireland this August.



Going forward – A though to bear in mind.

by Johnny Quaid

We are all aware of the situations that arose at the first stages of COVID19 in this country regarding the government’s stance. The packed pubs in temple bar in Dublin city, the beaches mobbed even though we knew a virus was in our communities, the Italy v Ireland rugby match due to be played that was eventually cancelled but flocks of Italian supporters were still let in to the country and of course the Cheltenham races debacle.

We have many reasons to be angry and bitter towards our leaders and you have a right to be, no more so than a family that lost a loved one due to the coronavirus. However, we must not let this anger and frustration move forward with us as we are coming to the end of the lockdown. The so called “new normal” will be difficult enough to manoeuvre besides having that extra baggage of bitter emotions going with it.

We can only hope that we as a country can learn from our mistakes, because we did make them, and be critical enough that we are well equipped, physically and mentally, to be able for any situation similar to this arising in the future.

We can be sucked into a certain way of thinking about our approach to the pandemic. Negative, angry, resentful. We might not even realise we are in the middle of it until it is too late and your head is spinning, lying awake at night looking at the ceiling, stressed to the max. We can go the other way. Thankful we were not affected directly by the virus, our family and loved ones are safe and if your job is safe, incredibly positive outcome.

If you are to question the government or the local councillor/TD and expressing your dissatisfaction about the entire process, is understandable and quite frankly should be done. Like any business or corporation, people should be held accountable for the areas we could have done better.

“Positive Anything Is Better Than Negative Nothing”. – Elbert Hubbard