Happy 90th & 89th Birthday with hugecongratulations to these two lovely gentlemen Connie and Patie O’Sullivan, Lower Road, Athea.
Wishing you both many more years of health and happiness.

Petition Against Proposed Mast in Athea

A petition sheet will be available for signing at Collin’s Shop and Griffin’s Butchers with regard to the proposed Eir mast which is to be located at the back of the Garda Station. Please sign if you have objections to this tall mast in the middle of the village before November 6th. These petition signatures will be forwarded to Limerick County Council and may have a big bearing on the granting of permission.

The Use Of Smart Phones

In today’s world, smart phones are  playing a big part in our day to day activities. No longer are phones just for making and receiving calls, they are mini computers and are capable of  connecting us to the world wide web. Increasingly more and more business is done on line and, in these times of lockdown, the Mass can be seen and heard in the comfort of our own homes. Young people have no problem operating smart phones, they grew up with them, but there is a large group of older people who need help getting to understand what to do. The way things are at the moment it is impossible to organise a formal class but maybe there is some other way of getting information to those who need it.

This virus will not last forever and, with God’s help, we will be back to some kind of normality but, in the meantime, if anyone has any ideas, please contact me, Domhnall de Barra on 087 6758762 or email me at [email protected]

Golf and Bodhráns

by Domhnall de Barra

It is no secret that I enjoy a game of golf now and again so I might be a bit biased when I complain about the fact that it has been lumped in with other sports that are banned for the extent of the lock down. Once upon a time golf was a sport for the privileged few and it was almost impossible for the ordinary Joe Soap to get into a club but that day is long gone and it is now the preferred game of many in all walks of life. There are a couple of reasons for this: it can be played at almost any age and the handicap system gives everybody an even chance of winning.  It is not really about the winning though, it is about comradeship, fitness and being out in the open air for four to five hours at a time. You might meet a stranger on the first tee but by the eighteenth hole you will have discovered a good deal about  that person and, of course  you will have divulged a lot of information about yourself. Golf is also great for the mind. It teaches you to accept victory and defeat in equal measure. Today you may go out and hit some great shots, finding the greens in regulation and hitting the fairways and you come home feeling seven feet tall but tomorrow all that may change and you spend your time hacking out of the rough or trying to get out of the bunkers. There are no two days alike but if you can manage a few good shots and sink the odd putt you can leave the course in great form. The age profile in golfers has swayed in recent years towards the over 50s and especially the 65 plus brigade who are retired and find it a great help in passing the time. It is of great importance to the mental wellbeing of somebody who might otherwise live a lonely existence with little social contact. It is a non-contact sport, as somebody said to me lately, “when you are taking a swing at a ball there is nobody trying to hook you.”   You never get close up and personal with anybody else on the course and golf clubs have done their best to provide guidelines on how we can avoid catching the virus. We travel alone to the course just in time to tee off and leave it immediately afterwards. Hand sanitizers are located throughout and there is no touching of flagpoles etc.  Social distancing is observed but the very nature of the game means there is little chance of getting close to anybody. Physical contact such as hand shaking is not allowed and everybody is happy. Unfortunately the powers that be have decreed that all courses should close, despite the fact that there is no evidence of any transmissions from golfer to golfer. I will certainly miss it and I know of many who feel the same way. In allowing the GAA competitions to go ahead, the government line was that it was important for the people to have something to look forward to well, I think that the closure of golf courses will have a detrimental affect on thousands of men and women throughout Ireland. They got it wrong!


In last week’s edition we had a photo of Jerry Brouder with a selection of bodhráns that he had made. This was, traditionally, the time of year when bodhráns or “tambourines” as we used to call them, were made to be ready for the Wren Day. The Wren Day was a very important day in the social calendar of our forefathers as it presented an opportunity to collect funds that would be used for a wren party just after Christmas. There was great skill in making a good bodhrán. A good goat was selected and killed. The skin was carefully removed, treated with lime and buried in the ground for a length of time to remove the hair and impurities. It was then scraped and placed in water, more often than not in a nearby stream.  The rim was made from a length of wood about a half inch thick and about six inches wide. This had to be bent into a circular shape  by bending it over steam from a pot of boiling water. There was a skill in getting the pressure just right  to make as good a circle as possible. The skin was then stretched over the rim and tacked on. Excess skin was removed around the tacks and now it was time to put some finishing touches. Many bodhrán makers added flattened bottle tops to small slits cut at intervals around the rim. A few would be inserted in the slit with a nail through the centre and they would act like cymbals when the bodhrán was shaken.  A piece of wood or wire was attached across the open ended side of the bodhrán to make a handle and another piece of wood was whittled to make a short stick with two bulbous ends for striking the skin. The bodhrán was then stored in a dry place ready for action on St. Stephen’s Day. Later on it was easier to use a section of a wooden barrel or an old sieve for the rim. I was thinking of this when I was looking at Jerry’s workshop. Goats don’t have to die anymore because the skin has been replaced by synthetic material which is ready to be used.  The wood is shaped on a modern machine and nothing is left to chance. The type wood, the strength of the skin, the depth and size of the finished article, all decide what the tone of the instrument will be. Bodhrán players have different preferences and Jerry can cater for them all. There is also a sophisticated type of bodhrán  that has two rims, one inside the other connected by screws that can be tightened and loosened to move one of the rims against the skin to tighten it, a far cry from the days when they had to be heated at the fires of the homes visited on the Wren Day. Jerry’s bodhráns are in great demand and we wish him every success in the future.