Con Colbert Street all lit up for Christmas

Holy Year Cross in Knock Athea on a snowy day.

Graveyard Collection

Envelopes can be handed in to Athea Credit Union which is reopening on January 5th., or the Athea Community Council Office.

St. Bartholomew’s Church, Athea

Mass for the Epiphany of the Lord (6th January) will be celebrated on – Tuesday evening at 7.30pm and on Wednesday morning at 10.30 am.

Mass Intentions next weekend                 

Saturday Jan 9th 7.30pm                Joseph O’Connor. Timothy O’Donoghue. John Murphy.

Sunday Jan 10th 10.30am              James (Jimmy) Dalton – First Anniversary

All masses are live streamed on the Church Services TV network via the following link

Church opening

The Church is open daily from 9.30am – 2.30pm for private prayer and to visit the crib.

Prayer in the time of the Corona Virus (by Fr Brian Grogan SJ)

Dear God, in 1879 the Apparition at Knock gave hope and courage to the people of Ireland in difficult times.

We ask that Our lady may now protect your beloved people from the Corona Virus.

May its victims be strengthened by the spiritual support of the Christian community and restored soon to full health.

We also pray for the medical personnel who deal with the virus.

This we ask in confidence through Christ Our Lord, Amen.

Our Lady of Knock pray for us.

Saint Joseph pray for us.

Saint John the Evangelist pray for us.

Back to the Future

By Domhnall de Barra

Happy New Year to you all. Even that sounds a bit strange the way things are at the moment when we have no idea what tomorrow will bring. If someone had told me, when we faced the first lockdown back in March, that we would be in a worse situation at the start of 2021, I don’t know how I would have reacted.  I thought it would last for a couple of months at the most and we would be back to normal by the Summertime. Hindsight is a great thing and it is now very easy to blame the government for opening up the country too early but they had a very difficult choice to make at the time and, if we all did as we were supposed to do, maybe we wouldn’t be in the position we are now. Certain sections of the community decided that they knew better and refused to wear masks or maintain social distancing while others continued to party like there was no tomorrow, especially over the Christmas period. Their actions have resulted in a catastrophic rise in the number of cases, people in hospital and ICUs. We hear these statistics on the news every evening but behind these numbers are real people. Those who died are fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters and the sad thing is that  their deaths  were entirely avoidable. The selfishness of some has resulted in too many broken hearted families and, least we think the misbehaviour was only in the cities and big towns; it is not. It is right here in our own community. I passed a house the other day that normally has three people living in it but there were eight cars parked outside. Now, you don’t need to be  Sherlock Holmes to work out that the government advice given a few nights before that was being totally ignored by those visiting and mixing in this house. This is not an isolated incident, as anecdotal evidence would suggest, so there is no need to point the finger elsewhere –  we are to blame ourselves. I know it is difficult at times and we all get fed up of not being able to see our families and friends but, if we are ever to get off this vicious circle of lockdowns we simply must fall into line with the health experts’ advice. If we can knuckle down for a few weeks we can make a difference and, don’t forget, the longer we go on the more people will have been vaccinated and the nearer we will be to returning to normal life.

This is a great time of year for looking forward and backwards. The usual new year resolutions will be made and soon forgotten but lately we have had plenty of time to reflect on the past and ask ourselves some questions. One of those questions came to mind lately and it is “what is you biggest regret in life?”. I thought about my young days and what if I had taken a different path in life but I soon rejected that because I probably would not then have married Noreen and have the great family we enjoy. Though it was difficult at times I wouldn’t change a whole lot because I have had such a variety of jobs from teaching to working for the likes of Murphy’s and Wimpy’s in England. It would take far too long to list all the various positions I have held except to say that I met some great, and not so great, people in all of them. I will say that I have met far more intelligent men, labouring in trenches all over England, than government ministers I had to do business with when I was President of Comhaltas. So, what is my biggest regret?  It is the amount of time and money I wasted in pubs over the years. Now, don’t get me wrong, anyone who knows me understands that I like a visit to the tavern now and again and there is nothing wrong with that but I grew up in a time where there was far too much drinking, especially in England. People who were living in digs had no place to go in the evenings after work so the pub became a kind of second home. This led to long sessions of drinking that left some permanently broke and depending on the “sub” to carry on. Many of these men died young due to organ failure and the conditions they worked in. It was not as bad in Ireland because there wasn’t as much money in circulation. My father had a lorry in the years after the 2nd world war when there wasn’t any coal to be had and turf was in big demand. Lorry owners made a fortune at the time and could afford to spend long hours at the bar counter. I have many memories, as a young boy, of waiting in the lorry at night or sitting in the corner of a bar, supping Nash’s lemonade and eating Marietta biscuits waiting for my father and his friends to finish their session. I couldn’t wait to be old enough to smoke and drink and of course I didn’t. As soon as I started going to secondary school I took up smoking. There was a shop near the school that would sell a single cigarette for two old pence. If you were really stuck and only had a penny the proprietor would cut the cigarette in half with a blade. Soon after that I started to drink. There was a certain pub where we would be sold a half pint of Guinness or a bottle of “Time” beer. Today that sounds really bad but, back then, smoking was not thought to be harmful, indeed it was supposed to make you relaxed, and Guinness was good for you. So we got into bad habits at an early age and some of us went on to drink and smoke a way more than was regarded as normal. Being a musician did not help either as most of the gigs were in pubs and it wasn’t unknown for customers to leave a drink for you if they liked what you were playing. The fact that you were playing in the pub meant that you were entitled, as “staff”, to stay after hours and of course I did, sometimes until dawn of day. That is the one thing I would change because, apart from the health and financial hazards, it took away valuable time I could have spent with my family. We can’t, however, change anything that happened in the past but we can learn from our mistakes and pass on a bit of advice to those coming after us. I look forward to the day I will be able to have a few drinks, especially with my musical friends, and enjoying the great atmosphere that is typical of the Irish pub but you won’t catch me throwing it back ‘till all hours of the morning.

I want to complement Fr. Duggan, and his colleagues in Abbeyfeale as well, for the way they looked after the needs of their parishioners at Christmas time. The webcams have made a huge difference and I would say there are now more people attending Mass, albeit online, than ever before. This is one of the best things about social media and it is amazing how quickly some of the older generation have adapted to smart phones and laptops and are quite skilled at finding the site they require. One woman told me lately; “it is like having your own private Mass”. They are also great for having face time with family and loved ones so, 4-+  though they have other uses that can be harmful, they can be instruments for good in all our lives. Stay safe out there.

The Holy Well in Templeathea looking beautiful.

Christmas Tree and a beautiful display of lights at Barrett’s, Markievicz Park