by Domhnall de Barra

Peg and Jim Prendeville climbing Knock Fierna

This week we welcome back Fr. Brendan Duggan who happened to be on retreat in Rockwell when the shut down was introduced. he could have been in worse places for the duration

Opening of Parish Church
Athea Parish church will open for people to a6end Mass on Friday 3rd of July. The
Mass will be celebrated at 7.30pm. For the first three weeks of July there will be a
gradual opening up of the church with Masses celebrated on Tuesday and Friday
evenings at 7.30 pm and on Sunday & Thursday mornings at 10.30 am.
However, there are strict conditions to the re-opening. The maximum number of
people allowed to a6end is 50 and this figure includes the priest, sacristan, and
stewards. In reality we are looking at 40 parishioners a6ending. We are also
obliged to adhere to the two-meter social distancing rule.
Parishioners need to be aware that the obligation to a6end Sunday Mass remains
suspended. The practce before the lockdown of parishioners a6ending Mass on a
Saturday evening or Sunday Morning is not practical or safe in these circumstance.
We are suggestions that some people, come to Mass during the weekdays. Some
parishioners like to a6end Mass daily. We are asking these parishioners to a6end
just once a week for the time being.
If you come to Mass and discover that when you arrive that the maximum
number of people is already in the church, parishioners will be able to hear Mass
in the car park through the outside loudspeaker system which is at the Gro6o
side of the church. Holy Communion will be distributed at the Gro6o. Again the 2-
metre social distancing must be strictly adhered to while a6ending Mass in the
church car park.
To maintain safety and prevent the spread of the virus, the church will be cleaned
afer each Mass. In line with HSE guidelines, Parishioners are encouraged to wear
face coverings while in a confined area. This is the responsibility of each
What to do when you come to Mass
In recent weeks we have all had to make significant adjustments as to how we go
about our daily tasks. A6ending Mass will see significant changes and we ask you
to follow the instructions below. There will be only one entry point to the church,
that is the main door at the front of the Church. When you are entering the
church, remember to maintain the two-meter social distance. Stewards will direct
you to the hand sanitizing stations and then to your seats. The seats will be clearly
marked. In line with social distancing the seats will accommodate a limited
number of people. When families a6end together, they will be allocated one seat
to themselves. We ask you to cooperate with the stewards. At Communion time,
stewards will direct you to Holy Communion and at the end of Mass we are asking
people to exit the church gradually and safely. We advise parishioners who have
underlying health conditions not to a6end Mass. If all goes according to plan we
will increase the number of Masses open to the public. We expect a webcam to be
installed in the church in the coming days. When that system is up and running
parishioners will be able to join in all ceremonies from the church.

Summer Time

This was the week we looked forward to long ago because it was the first week of the summer holidays.  On the last day of school there was an air of excitement until we put the bags on our backs and ran back the road for home  as if we had escaped from prison. Children love going to school now but, in our day, it was a different story. I spent many, many years attending school and college and I have to admit that I hated every one of them, with the exception of “station” days, sports days and school outings. (The “stations” were held in the school so that people from the locality could attend Mass and pay their dues to the clergy). Cratloe School was a tall, grey forbidding building ran by teachers who believed in the saying “spare the rod and spoil the child”. It was rarely a day went by when we weren’t punished for some misdemeanor and I am convinced that some of the teachers took out their frustrations on us. You can imagine how we felt when we had two whole months ahead of us free from school and all that went with it. It was the time also when farmers started to cut the hay. Unlike today, nobody started cutting until July came around. There was no forced grass in those days; the only help it got was from farmyard manure that was spread in the spring. I can still hear the click-click-click of the horse-drawn mowing machine as we cautiously peered over the ditch. There was usually an older man , sitting inside the gap, edging blades that would be replaced every so often. Although there was such a thing as a one-horse mowing machine, the custom in this part of the country was to use two horses. They were fine strong beasts who never complained as they pulled the heavy machine all day. I loved watching the cut hay falling in swarths from the machine and lying neatly in rows. It was different hay in those days because it was mingled with wild flowers and plants that have been killed off in recent years by the use of artificial fertiliser. As kids we spent a lot of time playing in meadows, especially after the cocks were made and woe betide us if, in our boisterous play, we managed to knock one of them. There was another treat in store when the hay was being drawn in; riding on the “float”. The float was a flat haycart that could tip up to allow a cock of hay to be winched on board. We would find a seat behind the cock and ride back and forth all day, if the man in charge allowed us. Hanging around the meadow had other benefits. it was the practice at the time to bring the tea to the meadow so that the work would not be too delayed. The basket contained buttered bread, cuts of bacon and strong hot tea in a bottle covered by a woolen sock to keep it warm. We were never left out and there was something magical about that meal. You have never really tasted tea until you drink it from a bottle in a sock in the meadow or bog. ‘Twas easy please us in those days but we didn’t know the meaning of the word “bored”. Days weren’t long enough for us to do all the fun things we did in summer and we had to be called in as night approached, much to our great disappointment. By todays standards we were poor but we did not know that – nobody told us. We didn’t need money or possessions because our imaginations were rich with possibilities. Yes, being young in the summer holidays was great and we enjoyed every minute of it.

At last we have a new government and I wish them well in trying to get the country back on its feet after the ravages of Covid 19. There is much on the media about the appointment of ministers and the lack of representation from Limerick to Donegal and through Tipperary to Waterford. It may come back to haunt them yet because Sinn Fein now have a golden opportunity from opposition to make all the right noises and moves and mop up the votes of some diehard Fianna Fail and Fine Gael supporters who did not agree with the joining of the two parties in government or are up in arms about the overlooking of some of their TDs who would have expected to be handed a portfolio. they will however have to stop blatently flouting the health regulations as they did during the week when hundreds attended the funeral of Bobby Storey in Belfast. It must be galling for some people who have had to miss the funerals of their own loved ones to watch this display lead by major SinnFéin leaders. There cannot be one law for them and another for the rest of us.  Historic times indeed but the day may not be far off when we may see Sinn Féin in Government and our first female Taoiseach. Watch this space!!

Congratulations to Patrick O’Donovan and Niall Collins who were both given junior ministerial appointments during the week.