Sorry for missing last week’s issue. We had a problem with our host but we are back online again. We will try to keep going during the current lock down but we need help from you all with articles, photos etc. We would particularly like to her from some of you who live outside the region, whether in other parts of Ireland or overseas, with your views and observations. Stay safe.  Domhnall

Jerry Brouder, Gale View, with some of the bodhráns he has made recently. Jerry is fast making a reputation as one of the best bodhrán makers in the business.

Letter on Proposed Mast

A notice was put up last week on the wall of the Garda Station here in Athea by Eircom (Eir) looking for planning permission to erect a 21 metre (70 ft) high telecommunications structure with antennas, dishes and other equipment at the back of the Garda Station. This mast would be a complete eyesore in the village (50ft high) and at this time with the Corona Virus epidemic we have enough to do to protect our health without worry of any health implications that could be associated with any communications mast. I will be objecting to the planning myself and if any other people or organisations would like to object they can do so by contacting Limerick County council within a 4 to 5 week period, but the sooner done the better.

Thanking you.

Yours sincerely

John Matthews

Temporary Closure of CE Scheme

As we go to press, we have just learned that the CE Scheme (formerly known as the FAS Scheme) will close due to the recent decision by the government to go to level 5 restrictions in the fight against the Corona Virus. It is happening at a good time of the year because grass cutting has ended and all that is left is keeping the streets and parks clean and brushing up the leaves. In the absence of the scheme it is up to everybody in the village to make sure that the area immediately outside their own premises is kept neat and tidy. It will only take a couple of minutes each day.

St. Bartholomew’s Church, Athea

In keeping with Level 5 guidelines all mass services are now broadcast online. Mass times will remain the same as follows:  Thursday morning 10.30am, Friday & Saturday evening at 7.30pm and Sunday morning at 10.30am.

You can access the mass in the following ways:

View on our webcam service via the following link

Tune in on local church radio – there are a small number of these radios still available, please contact Siobhan on 087-2237858.

Listen to mass in the church car park area via the outside speaker system.

Funeral services will be private and up to 10 mourners can attend.

Mass Intentions this week

Friday 23rd Oct Joan Woulfe (1st anniversary)

Sat & Sun 24th/25th Oct Private Intentions.

Church Opening Hours

The church will be open daily to the public for private prayers (in keeping with current restrictions) from 9am – 1pm (except when there is a funeral service taking place).

If you need to book an Anniversary mass, a wedding date, a baptism date or get a mass card signed please contact

Fr Brendan on 087-2600414 or Siobhan on 087-2237858.

Once again we thank you most sincerely for your patience and understanding.


By Domhnall de Barra

They say you don’t question your own mortality until one of your contemporaries dies. It was brought home to me this week when my boyhood friend and neighbour, John Ward, passed away. John, or “Johnson”, as he was affectionately known by his mates, and I grew up together in the middle of the last century. We met at the creamery one morning and he invited me to come down there the following afternoon for a game of handball. The creamery in Cratloe had a good back wall and a concrete yard so it was ideal doubling as a ball alley. From then on we did the usual things together like playing football, handball, fishing etc. John’s parent’s, Larry and Hannie had a lovely house across the road from Healy’s Forge. Like many houses at crossroads it was a great meeting place for neighbours and many is the game of cards we played there in the winter nights. The more seasoned card players would let us in for a couple of games and tolerated us but that did not stop us getting an ear bashing if we failed to follow a lead or “hit” one of our partners. We became good enough after a while and ventured further afield. At that time, it was the custom, coming up to Christmas to run a “raffle” or a “gamble” in a house to make a little money for the festive season. I forget which was which but one had card games only while the other had cards in the room and set dancing in the kitchen.  You paid your shilling, or whatever it was at the time, and had a chance of winning a goose or turkey. One woman I knew had a game each year for a pair of woollen socks she knitted herself!   John and myself preferred the ones that had the dancing for two reasons. Firstly, some people were loathe to allow young lads to take part but I was able to play the accordion and was always welcome. Secondly, where there was dancing there were girls of our own age and, like all healthy young men, we always had the eye out for the “shift”. On one occasion, at a house in Knocknasna, we both, unknown to each other, had our eyes on the same girl. I had been playing for a set while John was chatting her up where she was making sandwiches in a back room. As I finished off the set he was called into the room to make up a table for cards and I asked the girl to dance. After the dance we went out to a nearby hay shed for a bit of a “court” For years later John referred to that night as “the night Barry stole my woman”.

Sadly, like most of our generation, we had no option but to take the boat to England. John went to London and I went to Coventry so our paths did not cross for a long while except maybe briefly at some Christmas when we were home at the same time. In the early 70s we returned to Ireland and renewed our friendship. We both drank in Dan Gleeson’s pub and played darts  together on his team. John was a very good darts player and we had many memorable nights. One in particular comes to mind when we were playing a Listowel team one of the best around at the time. The lads who played  the first three legs were beaten 3 – 0 so we were up against it. We played out of our skins, winning the three games and levelling the match. In the decider we played against their best two and we won with John finishing on his favourite double; double 6.  Later on he ran a very successful pub of his own in Abbeyfeale at a time when the pub trade was very good. I played music in his dancing lounge on a regular basis for many years. John eventually got out of the pub business and turned to farming and cattle dealing. He had an association with the local cattle mart and was known as a very astute judge of animals. Our paths did not cross as much in recent years. John gave up drinking and I was away a lot with Comhaltas.  Sadly he fell into ill health and spent many years in and out of hospital. At the end of last year I met him at a funeral and I promised him I would call to the house where we could reminisce about old times. I thought I had plenty of time and then the virus hit so I never got to fulfil my promise. It is something I will regret to my dying day because I should have done it straight away instead of putting it on the long finger. Sadly, time ran out for John but he has left me many great memories of a time when things were a lot tougher than they are today but they were also much simpler. We always had something to do and I will always treasure his great friendship. John was, above all, a gentleman whose popularity in the locality could be gauged by the large crowds of people who lined the streets of Abbeyfeale as his funeral cortege passed by on his final journey to Reilig Íde Naofa.  Sincere sympathy to his wife Mary and all his family. May he rest in peace.

Funerals have changed completely since the advent of the virus. It is no longer possible to have funeral homes open with large crowds filing in to sympathise with the mourners and Masses are restricted to family members, basically. People pay their respects by leaving cards and messages and by forming guards of honour by the funeral procession. Part of me thinks this is a good thing. While we may want to show our sympathy to close friends and neighbours, it spares people the ordeal of standing, shaking hands, for over two hours. I have been through this ordeal many times myself and, a lot of the time, I was shaking hands with people I did not know. Likewise I have often gone to a funeral of a friend who lived far away and had to shake hands with all the mourners whom I had never met before. When somebody dies it is a very traumatic time for the family and I think they need time together, as a family, to comfort each other  and help each other to get through a very trying time. The last thing they need is hundreds of people descending on them to shake their hands and utter words of sympathy. Perhaps, when the virus is finally defeated, we will take a different approach to how we say goodbye to neighbours and friends. I, for one, would welcome it.