As we all try to navigate this challenging COVID journey and dig deep to maintain our momentum, we are constantly exposed to negative messaging which does little to help morale. An example of this for me is this past week when I tuned in to the Joe Duffy Phone-In – this focused on and highlighted the deplorable situation that many of our elderly and vulnerable citizens found themselves in. They eagerly awaited their vaccine appointment only to be advised the day before that it was cancelled. This situation was due to the fact that Vaccine supplies had not been delivered- despite the best efforts of the respective medical teams. I listened to family members who so eloquently articulated the despair being experienced by their loved ones. Their glimmer of hope and lifeline to a new chapter was now extinguished.

In stark contrast some hours later I was driving my elderly mother (almost 99 years old) Hannah Scanlon to our local medical centre for her vaccine. As I waited in the car I couldn’t  but reflect on the fact that here we were in this small rural community in Athea where our parishioners were being treated locally and to schedule.

Athea community is so very fortunate to have such a progressive GP as Dr. Kieran Murphy and we all owe him a huge debt of gratitude for his outstanding service to all of us.  As the saying goes “It take a village to raise a child” so it also takes a team to achieve what is being accomplished by The Westbury Medical Centre – The COVID Vaccination Programme is being run like a well oiled machine and implemented with military precision – thank you to Breda, Mary-Ann, Margaret and the extended team for all your sterling work.

So whilst we can be bombarded with negativity and this can be overwhelming- there is always a reason to be

grateful – sometimes it is staring us in the face.

Thank you to The Westbury Medical Centre Team for a very worthy entry in my Gratitude Journal.

Take care everyone, stay safe and look out for the “Gratitudes” .

John Scanlon

St. Bartholomew’s Church, Athea

Mass Intentions next weekend

Friday March 5th 7.30pm              Margaret O’Donoghue (months mind).

Saturday March 6th 7.30pm              Moss Reidy. Sr. Cyprian Dalton (1st Anniversary)

Lenten Pack

There are still some Lenten Packs available in the church which includes a Lenten prayer card and the Trócaire box.

The Rosary, The Devine Mercy Chaplet and The Stations of the Cross.

The Rosary will be recited before mass on Friday and Saturday evening at 7.15pm and on Sunday morning at 10.15am. The Devine Mercy Chaplet will be said each Thursday evening at 7.15pm and the Stations of the Cross will take place each Friday evening at 7pm before the rosary and mass.

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

Church opening

The Church is open daily for private prayer. If you wish to book an anniversary mass, a wedding or baptism date or get a mass card signed please contact

Fr. Brendan on 087-0562674 or Siobhán on 087-2237858.

Diocesan Events

Following the success of our Laudato Si’ book club in January/February we are delighted to offer, in partnership with the Salesian Cosmology Group, a 4-week book club on Pope Francis’ latest encyclical Fratelli Tutti.

The book club will run from 7pm to 8pm over four Tuesdays from the 9th to the 30th of March.

You can register for the four sessions here:

Beautiful Lenten Garden Altar completed by Theresa O’Halloran at St.Bartholomew’s Church.

“I Don’t Believe It”

by Domhnall de Barra

Little did we think, this time last year, that 12 months on we would be in a level 5 lockdown with no sign of normality in the near future. We embraced the first restrictions thinking it was going to be all over in a couple of months and we would be back in business in the summer but, how wrong we were. The sad thing is; if we had done a year ago what we are doing now we would probably be like the Isle of Man and New Zealand. Hindsight is great vision so there is no point in the shoulda couldas, as they say in political circles “we are where we are” and all we can do is hope that the vaccine gets rolled  out fairly quickly and we can start to breathe a sigh of relief. Due to the lack of social activity over the past year we have all seen more TV than we normally would. It whiles away the long hours and gives us a bit of relief from the constant discussion on Covid statistics. There was a song one time that had a line “57 channels and nothing on” lamenting the type of programmes available on radio. Well, with all the satellite stations available to us at the moment, there must be closer to 1,057 stations and still nothing on. Skimming through the TV guides is, to say the least, depressing. Good shows are few and far between with a host of  repeats, poor films and the dreaded reality shows. The soaps still remain popular and I must admit to watching, on and off, Emmerdale, Corry, Eastenders and Fair City. The popularity of soaps can be attributed to our innate nosiness. We love  gossiping about other people’s business and soaps give us a fly on the wall role to eavesdrop on the characters who are meant to be like ourselves. They are cleverly constructed with plots that keep us hooked from one episode to the next but also in a way that you can miss out on a few episodes and fall back in quickly as if you never left. Sometimes they are downright silly and I find myself asking the question “what the hell am I watching this rubbish for?” but I have to admit that there is some very good acting with the exception of our own Fair City. If the cast of that soap were executed for acting they would die innocent. The writing too leaves a lot to be desired with bad lines spoken by unbelievably bad actors. I know it is all fantasy but to grab the viewers attention it has to be believable and if some of the characters acted in real life like they do on the programme they wouldn’t last five minutes. Then we have the newest trends in programme making, reality TV. This started with Big Brother where we watched a group of people sharing the same house. Since then there have been many different types culminating in the most ridiculous programme of them all, Goggle Box. This is where we watch other people watching TV hoping they will say something funny or outrageous. The mind boggles. All kinds of formulas have been tried like Dancing with the Stars, Dancing on Ice, Cook offs, Bake offs, Fittest Families, Best House etc. There is absolutely nothing they will not try to gain our attention. My pet hate is First Dates. It is quite obviously well stage managed and I think any person would want to be out of their mind to expose themselves on the national media like that. While I am having a rant I might as well mention another annoying trick they perform on us. That is the quiz for a prize at the end of shows like Today with Dáithí and Máire and  The Late Late Show.  A stupid question is asked on the lines of  “if you multiply 2 by 2 what is the answer, 4, 14 or 24. If you think you know the answer call ——”  This is not a quiz in the true meaning of the word but by doing it this way they comply with the law and somebody gets the prize of a lot of money. It is, however another money making racket. The lines called are premium lines which will cost in excess of €2 per text. If only a small section of those looking on decided to enter the competition text, there would be a huge surplus after the prize money is taken out. I suppose something must pay for the exorbitant salaries of those involved in making and presenting the programmes. There is no point in flicking through the channels, all you will find is a similar diet of mediocrity. I used to look forward to the news but now it is like Groundhog Day with the Covid pandemic dominating the content. There mustn’t be a specialist or expert left on the globe who has not been interviewed, asked the same questions and given the same answers. The politicians are the only ones who create a bit of entertainment. Hardly a day goes by but one minister or another says the wrong thing on air to the joy of the opposition who pounce gleefully on the gaffe for their own political ends. We have a government that seems to be divided along party lines with information being leaked to the press on a regular basis. By the time the Taoiseach or a senior minister makes an address to the nation, the contents of the speech have been in the papers and on the airwaves for a week. This, despite the fact that each minister has a team of advisers who should be capable of steering him/her on the right path but they continue with misinformation and facts that do not stand up to scrutiny. These advisers and spin doctors should all get the boot and let the minister and the department chiefs  get on with the business of governing. Politics in Ireland was mainly a two party affair up to recent years. Fianna Fáil and  Fine Gael, the civil war parties, led most of the governments but I have yet to see any great changes in policy when they swapped places. Politicians may want to do certain things when they come into power but it is the senior civil servants who really run the country. They know what will work and what will not so you might say “Yes Minister” is not too far wrong.  I know I am doing my Victor Meldrew impression this week but since I am going to be 76 in a weeks time I feel that I am near enough to “one foot in the grave” to get it all off my chest. Noreen’s father, Jack Hannon God be good to him,  once said to me that one of the advantages of being old is that you can say what you like. I am going to finish on an optimistic note though since we have enough doom and gloom. I am looking forward to getting the vaccine in the near future. It is our ticket to freedom and the key to unlocking our future. The children are going back to school, if on a phased basis, and I can see a gradual return to sports like tennis and golf by the end of the month. The protest in Dublin was disturbing and it is sad that people so readily buy into conspiracy theories that abound on social media. I fail to understand how apparently normal everyday people get sucked into these outrageous suggestions. I was watching some of the riots in Dublin on telly last night and I noticed one group that were wearing green t-shirts. There was a slogan about reptilians  (whatever that is) on the front but on the back it said “RTE sold there souls” . Notice the word “there” which should of course be “their”. It speaks volumes about the people who designed this garment that backs up the theories that there are babies being murdered in the children’s hospital so that staff in RTE can attain eternal youth from the stem cells.  You could not make it up but, alas, there are only too many ready to believe it. Some people  genuinely attended the gathering to protest about vaccination. Let’s get one thing clear; there is no such thing as compulsory vaccination – it is up to each individual to take it or not.  Everyone has the right to refuse but not the right to try and force their opinions on others. Forget about them –  we have to hold the line at the moment and if we give it our best shot for another few weeks we will reap the rewards in the summer time. Keep everything crossed –  the good times are a coming.