To all our readers, columnists, advertisers, contributors and the shops who sell the newsletter free of charge. May the coming year bring you all you desire. The first publication of the New Year will be on Tuesday, January 5th.

Knockdown Vintage Club recently held a raffle in aid of The Symptomatic Breast Unit and €2,000 was raised. This was presented to the unit on 15/12/20. Many thanks to everyone that made this possible by sponsoring prizes or buying tickets or helped in any way.
Left to right
Carol Noonan, Mairead Langan and Ann Deignam (Breast co-ordinator at the Symptomatic Breast Unit, U. H. L.)and Margaret Culhane.

Athea & District Credit Union

The Credit Union will be closed from Thursday, December 24th and will re-open on Tuesday, January 5th. 2021.

Thank You

Athea Community Council members  would like to say a huge thank you to Haulie & Ian  Liston and Sean Mullane for erecting the Christmas Street Lights for us free of charge. This is a lovely gesture of goodwill on their part and we appreciate it greatly. It has been a very trying year for us as we have had no income since March due to not being able to have our Lucky No’s Draw. Hopefully 2021 will be a better year for all.

Graveyard Collection

The envelopes are being delivered to all houses in the parish at the moment. As the Credit Union will be closed for the holidays they can be dropped through the letterbox at the Community Council Office.

A Year like no  Other

By Domhnall de Barra

End of another year in sight and I suppose we won’t be sorry to see the back of it. Charles Dickens novel, A Tale of Two Cities, opens with the lines “it was the best of times; it was the worst of times” and nothing could describe 2020 better.  Little did we think as we started the year  that a virus that was causing trouble in China would soon engulf the world and plunge us into a pandemic the likes of which we had never before experienced. Hindsight is a great thing and, looking back, we probably could have done more at the beginning to stop the virus from spreading in the country. Two things stand out for me; allowing the Italian supporters to come to Dublin even though the rugby match itself had been cancelled due to the high infection rate in Italy and allowing people from Ireland to go to the Cheltenham racing festival where there was every chance of people getting infected and bringing it back home. Northern Italy was one of the hot spots at the time and that is the home of Italian rugby To be honest, we had no idea when we entered the first lockdown in March that the situation would get so much out of control and still be a problem at the end of the year. I thought we would weather the storm in a couple of months and, come summer, would be back to normal again.  As the year went on other mistakes were made, mainly urging people to holiday at home instead of going abroad leading to the coining of that awful word “staycation”. People brought the virus with them to every corner of the country leading to more lockdowns and restrictions. To be fair to the government, they tried to help all those who were affected financially by the pandemic but it was still a disastrous year for  many, especially in the hospitality trade, some of whom will never trade again. My own business was reduced to a fraction of what it should be but I am lucky in the sense that I am at that stage of my life when I have very few overheads  and I am not totally dependent on the revenue from the business to survive.

One decision affected me greatly and that is the shutting down of golf courses. I could not see the logic in it as it was one of the safer pursuits with no social contact and plenty of exercise in the open air. It provided an outlet for us at a time when it was needed but the powers that be thought otherwise.  My complaints are trivial, I know, compared with the fate of those who had to bury loved ones without the normal funeral routines or had to restrict their visits to hospitals and nursing homes. They are the ones who paid the heaviest prices and I can only say; “there but for the grace of God go I”. But what about the best of times. A lot of good has come out of this disaster. Families have discovered each other again and created a different way of life for themselves. We have learned how to live without the pub and also to take care of our neighbours. It has forced us to realise who are really important in this world; not the celebrities, stars, business moguls and so-called leaders but the frontline workers who put their own health on the line to help others. We take them for granted too much, not realising the importance of the work they do and we definitely do not pay them enough. On the few occasions I have been in hospital I was blown away by the care administered by the nurses and staff in the wards. How they do it, day in, day out, is a true indicator of what a vocation really is. I also think that we have become nicer to each other and more willing to lend a helping hand. It is something that we do when facing a common enemy and, make no mistake about it, Covid 19 is the most formidable enemy we have faced in our lifetimes.

We are now facing a further lockdown because when restrictions were relaxed some people took advantage and ignored all the medical advice resulting in a surge in the daily number of infections There is, however, light at the end of the tunnel with vaccines ready to be rolled out in the coming days. It is not going to happen in a hurry but we can now look forward to a time when most of the public will be immune and the virus will die out.

One thing is for sure; life will never again be the same as it was before. Perhaps we can learn some lessons and appreciate what is really important in this life. Christmas is not the same but, if we are sensible and follow the guidelines, we can look forward to better times ahead  with an opportunity to once again greet our families and friends from overseas  as we used to and give each other the hugs that we so miss at the moment.

Another plus during the year was the performance of the Limerick hurlers who captured the All-Ireland title in style. Hurling gave us some of the greatest sporting moments with displays of skill and athleticism that were mind-blowing. It is hard to believe that these hurlers were actually playing on cold, wet and windy winter days instead of the height of summer. Hurling is without doubt the fastest and most skilful field game in the world. As for the football, the less said the better. It continued its decline with boring exhibitions of maintaining possession at all costs. On several occasions I switched off the TV because the fare was so bad. If the GAA do not do something soon I am afraid that Gaelic football will only be a memory.

This column allows me to have my say once a week and  I hope that I have offended nobody during the year. I take this opportunity to thank all who have contributed to this newsletter throughout the year; the columnists, Club PROs, advertisers, the shops that sell for us and you, the readers, for continuing to make it possible to have our very own little paper on the shelves in Athea and the surrounding area.

Have a safe, happy and holy Christmas and, hopefully a return to some semblance of normality in the New Year.