By Tom Aherne

Due to the Level 5 restrictions the parish churches are closed for mass, but open for visiting. The mass in Ardagh  can be viewed on the Ardagh/Carrigkerry Facebook page, and the mass in Carrigkerry can be heard on the Radio at 107fm. There are a number of weekly contribution boxes still in both church porches awaiting collection. Distributors who want to collect them are asked to contact the parish office on Wednesday/Thursday at 069-76678.

The final  Limerick GAA Club draw for 2020 was held on Saturday January 30, and announced on Limerick Live 95 fm sports show. Congratulations to Margaret Carroll from the Saint Kieran’s club who won €250.The club will be promoting the 2021 draw as well. It will run on the same lines as last year, and it will commence on March 27.

Limerick Council has announced that it will open a greenway car park at the old Ardagh Railway Station in the summer, as soon as it completes stabilisation  works on the building. In the meantime people are being asked  not to travel beyond  their 5km to use the greenway. Greenway users have also being asked  not to obstruct minor roads, private entrances or farm accesses along the sections of the route currently open between Rathkeale and Ardagh.

I grew up to the singing of “The Old Bog Road” song, and during my lifetime have spent many hard but enjoyable days harvesting turf for the home fire. Following Bord Na Móna’s recent decision to end industrialised peat extraction after more than 80 years, calls have been made for a complete  ban on all turf cutting for environmental and health reasons. Rural dwellers have a deep emotional and cultural attachment to their bogs and look after them well.  When the years supply is cut the swart is filled in from the top foot or so that has been taken off before meeting the turf for cutting. This way only the height of the bog is reduced and the new ground continues year on year, to attract wildlife as nature intended.

Following research our learned professors, and scientists, claim  that burning turf causes more air pollution than coal. I and many others have a different view on the matter, and regard being able to cut our bog as a historic right. Our ancestors survived by cutting turf and harvesting it for home use and for sale, during the darkest days of our history. When our learned friends convince me that it is okay to continue with air pollution from air and road traffic, factories etc, in built up areas, compared to  the  few chimneys of isolated rural dwellers burning turf, I will listen to them. How many of them have stood on the open spaces of a bog and inhaled a lungful of the fresh heather air? Not too many I guess, preferring making decisions, from their air conditioned offices. The person on the ground (bog) is the keeper of the land and best placed to decide  how to take care of their bog, as they have been doing for countless generations. I will rest my case with a few lines from another old song:    

Put more turf on the fire, Mary Anne,

For the weather it is dreary and  cold,

Throw on a big sod, Mary Anne,

For we’re growing both weary and old.

People who have invested their money in prize bonds received a shock in the past few weeks, when the National Treasury Management Agency announced changes which will  impact the prize bond fund, which has been growing in popularity. Under the changes, the prize fund allocated to the bonds is to be cut, which will reduce the amount of prize money that consumers will be entitled to claim. The variable interest rate used to calculate the prize fund will drop from 0.5% to 0.35%. The NTMA has also announced that four prizes of €250,000 will be up for grabs in the last weekly draws in March, June, September and December. Previously, the last weekly draws in June and December offer two €1m prizes – the change will see €1m wiped off the top prize fund.

The weekly top prize of €50,000 will be unchanged, as will the other weekly prizes offering ten people the chance to win €1,000, ten €500 prizes and prizes of €50. The sale of prize bonds has boomed since the pandemic began, with people investing savings in the scheme. There was an increase of 92% in investments in prize bonds last year. A caller to Liveline disputed their announcement, and explained that over a year the prize money  was being cut by 6 million. This fact and their  changes will vex customers, many of whom invest not only to secure their cash, but also for the potential to win money. An individual can invest as much as €250,000 in bonds, offering a secured investment. Other savings products operated by the NTMA are also to face changes, and Savings Certificates, Instalment Savings, National Solidarity Savings Bond and Post Office Savings Bank deposit accounts are all being cut.

Adrian O’Sullivan was recently appointed as the new manager of the Dublin senior camogie team, along with Donie Fox as head coach. Adrian is from Ballynash, Foynes and the son of Mike the present West Limerick GAA Board Chairman, whose roots are in Ardagh. Though young in years Adrian has built up a very impressive coaching career in both camogie and hurling. In Inter county coaching (camogie) All-Ireland Minor A championship with Limerick in 2014 (first time ever) and intermediate championship with both Limerick and Kilkenny in 2014 and 2016. Senior county championships as coach in camogie with Thomastown (Kilkenny) in 2020 and in hurling with Clonkill (Westmeath) in 2019, and current UL Ashbourne Cup manager winning in 2019 and 2020. In Inter county coaching (hurling) – Coach of Kildare, 2016,17 and Westmeath 2019 under Joe Quaid winning promotion to division 1 of the NHL. Wishing Adrian a successful time with Dublin, except  when they meet Limerick.

Creeves Celtic  held their  split the pot draw at Hanley’s Food store, Creeves, on Monday, January 18. Congratulations to James O’Connor who won €121. The weekly  entry fee is €2, with €1 going to the club and the other €1 to be paid out in prize money each week. The envelopes to place your two Euro in plus details, are available at  Hanley’s Food Store Creeves,  and from committee members.  People can also sign up by standing order for €9 per month. The  draws will be held on Monday nights, and all support will be appreciated.