By Tom Aherne

The death has taken place of Josephine (Josie) Keane, née Mulcahy, Ballyine, Carrigkerry, on Sunday, March 14, in the wonderful care of the staff at St Catherine’s Nursing Home, Newcastle West, predeceased by husband Tim. In accordance with government guidelines a private family funeral Mass took place on Wednesday, St Patrick’s Day at 11.30am in St Molua’s Church, Ardagh. Burial took place afterwards in the local cemetery. We extend our sympathy to  sons John and Thos, daughters in law Karina and Betty, grandchildren, great grandchildren, nephews, nieces, relatives and friends. May she rest in Peace.

The death has taken place of Michael Hanlon, Ballyneety, Shanagolden, and formerly of Coole Road, Glin and O’Connor Park, Ardagh peacefully on  Wednesday, March 17, at Milford Hospice, Limerick. Predeceased by his parents Julia and Patrick, sister Mary, brothers Tom and Denny. His Requiem Mass was celebrated at Saint Colman’s Church, Kilcolman at 12 noon, on Saturday, March 20, followed by burial afterwards in the local cemetery. We extend our sympathy to his  daughter Caroline, son in law Patrick, granddaughters Courtney and Casey, sisters Sheila, Joan, Margaret and Nora, brothers Dermot and Pat, nieces, nephews, other relatives and a large circle of friends and neighbours. May he Rest in Peace.

A number of people from Ardagh village and beyond  are presently in University Hospital Limerick. We wish them and all who are sick in hospitals, Nursing Homes and in their own homes a speedy recovery to good health.

When the Covid -19 restrictions are lifted work will commence on the Carrigkerry Playground which is not deemed necessary work at present.  It will be a nice addition for the young children of the village to enjoy themselves when completed. Later on the same site it is intended to place a miniature replica of the Campaign House, which was located close by before being demolished.

The Con Greaney programme broadcast on West Limerick 102 FM on Saint Patrick’s Day has received a lot of positive comments, from at home and overseas. A nice selection of Con’s favourite songs was included during the 90 minutes, which was produced and presented by Shirley O’Regan. Gabriel Fitzmaurice, who helped to unearth Con’s talents, and present them to a wider audience, recalled their times together and recited a poem he composed in tribute. Shirley recited Tony Malone’s  tribute song and Michael Allen’s poetry tribute. Ger Greaney, his grandson, gave the family perspective of Con and his lifestyle and  Tom Aherne traced his journey through life. For people who may have missed out on the programme, they can catch it on podcast, on the radio Facebook platform.

The Cheltenham Racing Festival  was dominated by the Irish last week winning 23 of the 28 races. Gerry O’Neill the former jockey from the Old Mill, and now Bruff resident recalled his win there in last week’s Limerick Post newspaper. In conversation  with David Raleigh, he recalled his win on Chance Coffey in the Coral Cup on March 15, 1995. Gerry who retired in 1998, is still involved with horses, and  used attend the festival most years up to the arrival of the pandemic.

The Con and Anne Kirby Memorial Stake commences at Limerick Greyhound Stadium on Saturday, March 27. It is sponsored by JP and Noreen McManus and €20,000 prize money will be on offer, with €10,000 for the winning greyhound and associated club. All the Limerick GAA Clubs will be allocated a greyhound for the event, which will be run off on Saturday nights.

Saint Kieran’s GAA club are promoting the Limerick GAA club draw for 2021.The entry fee for the ten draws is €100, and €21,000 will be given out in prize money each month. The first prize is €10,000, 2nd prize €3,000, 3rd prize €2,000, and 27 additional prizes of €500, €250, and    €100. To join contact the local St Kieran’s club members in person, or online through the Clubforce App with direct options available. The club will receive 50% of all membership received which is vital for the running of it over the year. The first draw will be held on Saturday March 27.

The Ardagh Development Association and Saint Kieran’s GAA joint weekly lottery   draw took place on Monday, March 15. The numbers drawn were 11, 12, 19, and 23, and there was no winner of the €4,800 Jackpot.  Congratulations  to the five lucky dip winners who received €40 each: Oisin Ryan, Coolacokera, Mairead Ellis, online, Maurice Hartnett, Ardagh, Shane Ambrose, Dunganville, Tom and Marion O’Connor, Lisbane c/o Stephen Kennelly. Next Monday night’s jackpot will be €4,900. People can play online using club force on the club’s Facebook page, with 6pm on Monday evening the deadline. The tickets are also on sale at the usual outlets, and all support will be appreciated.

Creeves Celtic  held their split the pot draw at Hanley’s Food store  Creeves, on Monday, March 15. Congratulations to Ross, Nuala, and Noel O’Donnell, who won €124. 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.

The next West Limerick 102fm 50/50 draw, will be held on Friday, March 26. The tickets cost €2 and they are available from volunteers, in local shops, (including Moloney’s Carrigkerry, and Denis Greaney’s Shop Ardagh) or from the radio station. All support will be appreciated as finances are tight due to lack of fundraising. The radio station is off limits to members of the public at present, with only volunteers allowed access. When restrictions are lifted all will be very welcome to visit and get involved in programming. A number of exciting new programmes are in the pipeline for later in the year. The station can be contacted at 069-66200 if people have news of interest to the West Limerick area.

                                 Patneen Ahern Remembered                 By Tom Aherne

2013 is the 25th anniversary of the passing of the master fiddle player Paddy Ahern (affectionately known as Patneen) from Glenagore, Athea; He died on Saturday 26th November 1988 aged 87 years old. I compiled the following tribute to him about 10 years ago which I would like to share with our readers. Traditional music has been played for centuries all over Ireland. It has been handed down from father to son, mother to daughter, and from neighbour to neighbour, for Irish music is a living tradition. Since the dawn of time people have enjoyed making and listening to music. We are fortunate in Ireland to have a very rich tradition of instrumental music.

It is a most enjoyable pastime with much fun generated at the many sessions that take place, on a regular basis all over the country. Somebody once said music resembles poetry, -‘in each are numerous graces, which no methods teach and which a master hand alone can reach.’ Today the fiddle is one of the most popular instruments for playing traditional music in Ireland. Over the years we recall many famous fiddle players, such as Michael Coleman, Johnny Doherty, Padraig O’Keeffe, Sean Maguire, Denis Murphy, Seamus Connolly, Paddy Glackin, Martin Mulvihill and Johnny Donegan.

West Limerick has also produced many top class exponents of the fiddle and bow over the years, too numerous to mention here. An expression you often hear nowadays is ‘if the cap fits wear it.’ It was the name of a recording by fiddle player Kevin Bourke back in 1978. The expression brings to mind memories of the man with the cap in musical circles, in our locality Patneen Ahern, from the Glenagore/Knockfinisk border in the parish of Athea. He came from an area rich in music and he dedicated his long life to the promotion of fiddle playing.

Paddy Ahern from Glenagore was born in 1901 the eldest of five children. He had three brothers, Con Mick and Dan, and one sister Catherine, who died at a young age. His father was Patrick and his mother was Ann Madigan from Rooskagh. His grandmother was a woman by the name of Woulfe, from Athea, whose brother was a teacher there in times past. A very interesting link with his past relations was his great-grandmother, who was a woman by the name of Coll from Bruree. She was probably a relation of Eamon De Valera and they met up when Paddy’s great  grandfather was in service around that locality.

Paddy went to Carrigkerry National School where his teacher was Master Halpin and he was a keen scholar, being especially good at Maths. It was all walking in those days and the two miles plus journey was done morning and afternoon in all types of weather. When school days were completed along with his brothers and friends he entered service with farmers around the West Limerick area. His social life centred around the Village of Carrigkerry where his music was highly regarded and valued.

Paddy Inherited his music from the fine fiddle player ‘Jackson’ and he could trace back his relationship to the great man who was a legend at playing and composing music. Paddy’s ability to read and write music and to play the fiddle and tin whistle, helped him greatly to develop into a master musician and to be regarded as one of the best fiddle players of his generation. His collection of Irish traditional tunes was enormous, and many were from O’Neill’s Collection of music, which was the good musician’s bible at that time. He could play away all night without repeating a tune. In the early days of the century he was in his prime, playing for gambles, raffles, dances, weddings, socials and wren nights. His name was renowned not alone in Limerick but also in adjoining counties.

His distinctive style of music attracted a host of top class musicians who wanted to claim the honour of playing with the master of fiddle and bow. Down the years he taught many pupils the art of fiddle playing at his cottage overlooking Ahern’s Glen.  They included Sean Lynch, Glenagore, George Walker, Rooskagh, Tom Ahern, Knockfinisk and John and Mike O’Sullivan, Carrigkerry. They are now scattered to the four corners of the World and to Heaven above, but his music has been transferred and still lives on. His style of penning down a tune was unrivalled at the time considering that he had very poor eyesight. It is true to say that he kept the Céilí music going when it was not fashionable or rewarding and that he left a legacy of his music and good musicians after him to carry on the tradition.

Timmy Woulfe, from Athea (who has done great work teaching and collecting dances over the years), has great memories of Paddy which he shared with me at the time. Timmy recalled many visits to Ahern’s house in Glenagore over the years. Colm Danaher and he would attend music sessions there along with many others from the locality. A gentleman by the name of Lynch, who was a bank manager in Newcastle West, was amongst the callers. Paddy was regarded as an icon by the people, who came from far and wide to play with him and also to hear him display his great talent. Timmy said ‘He had a rake of music and tunes, which many others had never heard of and he was always on the lookout to collect more new tunes. Timmy recalled writing out Cooley’s Reel for Paddy on one occasion. A warm welcome awaited all who came to his house, and tea and refreshments were always served.

Paddy is still remembered by the older generation around Athea, twenty four years after his death. He would attend Irish Nights arranged by the local Comhaltas branch and other events around the Village. Timmy recalled a Radio recording that featured Paddy which was held in Kelly’s Hall and Mick Lynch’s Bar. Ciarán Mac Mathúna visited Kelly’s Hall to record material for his Radio programme ‘A Job of Journeywork.’ The Hall was packed and the noise levels high, making recording near impossible. The crowd went wild when Paddy commenced his performance, stamping their feet and urging him on. To help the recording Dinny Kelly, a player from Knocknaboul, shielded Paddy from the crowd by opening his overcoat wide and turning his back to the crowd.

In frustration Ciarán left by a side window for the sanctuary of the pub and the enjoyment of a few drinks. The late Seán

O’Ríada made a recording one fine summer’s day at Mick Lynch’s which Paddy attended. A famous fiddle player John Kelly from Carrigaholt in Clare took a shine to him and the two spent a lot of the day playing together. Timmy concluded by saying that Paddy Ahern and Con Greaney were the two outstanding talents that came from the locality. They were generous with their time and music and singing was their fulfilment in life. They were blessed with great talent, but both remained modest and unassuming and a credit to their parish.

Paddy Ahern was always referred to as Patneen or Padneen in local circles. He was humorous and full of wit and many stories were told about him over the years. One of his famous sayings was that he could play the fiddle as good as Geraldine O’Grady (the famous violin player) if only he had her fiddle. He was asked on one occasion if he could play a certain tune. His reply was swift saying if it was in the book he could play it. Paddy never married, similar to the great Sliabh Luachra fiddle player Pádraig O’Keeffe. The latter always called his fiddle, ‘the missus’ because he thought so much of it. It was much the same with Paddy as he was always minding his fiddle, and being very careful where he left it.

A couple of more stories that come to mind are as follows: – He was at a wren party on one occasion and enjoying himself to the full. It was to finish up at a certain hour of the morning to allow the owners of the house to tidy it up and to get a few hours sleep. The leader of the wren boy group had a job to get Paddy out, but after some persuasion he got him out and pointed him in the direction of his home which was only a short distance away. When the leader had the house sorted out and all things put back in place he also headed for home. He received a big surprise when he lifted the latch and walked into his own kitchen, to see Paddy sitting on his armchair and fast asleep in front of the open fire.

On another occasion Paddy was in Stack’s Bar, Carrigkerry after collecting his pension. He was playing a few tunes for those present when one person asked for a loan of his fiddle. He played a few tunes and was inclined to boast of his ability as he handed back the fiddle. Paddy and a few others were discussing the merit of his playing a while later. Paddy’ sight was failing badly at this time and he turned to the person next to him, unaware that it was the fiddle player. ‘Take no notice of that family’ said Paddy ‘they are only a crowd of blow holes.’

My own memories of Paddy are mainly from the 1960s and the wren parties he attended at Kennelly’s house in Glensharrold. He was in advancing years at the time, but he was still very much sought after for his expertise on the fiddle. A driver was always sent for him, as he had no means of transport. He would sit near the fire and play away to his heart’s content. The slant of his cap and the head shaking as his foot kept time are visions I still retain after close on fifty years. He would keep the floor going for long periods, with rousing polka sets, siege of Ennis, foxtrots, and waltzes.

His only reward would be a few pints of porter and plenty of food to eat. Paddy had a habit of falling asleep and when he awoke rested would play on with renewed vigour. At one party the dancing continued late into the following morning until Paddy fell asleep. As he awoke from his slumber, he came out to the back yard to answer a call of nature. Rubbing his eyes that January evening as the dusk was falling, he looked to the sky and declared. ‘It’s a grand morning thank God; it’s breaking fine and clear.’

Paddy Ahern died in the Regional Hospital Limerick on Saturday 26th November 1988 aged 87 years. His remains were removed to Athea Church, and the burial took place in the family grave in Holy Cross Cemetery on the Monday. Musicians provided a guard of honour and traditional music was played at the graveside. It was one of the first times music was played there, and that would have made Paddy really proud.

Now close on a quarter of a century later it would be nice to see his memory recorded in some way in the parish. A memorial could be erected, or a music competition held annually to commemorate his name. A true son of Ireland, he deserves continued recognition for keeping the music alive, and teaching others to preserve our great musical heritage. I dedicate the following lines in his honour.

In Carrigkerry so fair, his music filled the air from June to May, through night and day,

Much music he taught, to all who were brought, and the tunes they sought, sure they were taught for naught,

He travelled the west, and played with the best, with fiddle and bow, he was always on the go,

His mind was at ease, from Glenagore’s heather breeze, with the jigs and the reels; sure, the music filled his needs,

Paddy is now at eternal rest, under a headstone three miles west, he should be forever blessed, as he was simply the best.