Past and present members of Athea Drama Group in the Community Hall on Sunday night








The Way I See It

By Domhnall de Barra

I was on the golf course in Newcastle West on Sunday morning when Billy Crowley, one of my playing partners, got a message on his phone to say Oliver McGrath had passed away.  I knew he hadn’t been well but it still came as a great shock that at the age of three score and ten he would never again grace the fairways of  Newcastle or the stage in Athea. I have known him a very long time but, being six years older than him, it was in later years that our paths really crossed. Three decades ago Athea Community Council were looking for ways of raising funds and we discussed the possibilities of staging pub plays as they were doing in Abbeyfeale at the time. Amina Parkes thought we should resurrect Athea Drama Group which hadn’t been active for a good few years. Amina and I were given the go ahead to reform the group so the first person we needed was Oliver McGrath. He was a very prominent actor and producer with a drama group in Listowel at the time but, when Amina approached him, he put his faith in us and, as they say, the rest is history. He took people who had never been on the stage before and turned them into actors. When Oliver spoke, people listened and he got the very best out of us. He would work us hard in rehearsals but, when the curtain came down and we repaired to one of the local hostelries, we had a whale of a time. We would have a few (?) drinks and the songs would flow into the small hours of the morning. The night would not be complete until Oliver gave his rendition of “Red Haired Mary”  a song he made his own. Looking back on those times makes me realise just how happy we were at that time and there is no doubt in my mind  that we wouldn’t have been so if it hadn’t  been  for Oliver’s input. He gave us the confidence to go on stage and the tools to do the job. That is why Athea Drama Group became such a hit with the public and why it continues to play to full houses year after year.  As an actor he was simply superb and as a director he was able to give us the benefit of his skills and experience. He was a stickler for detail and every stage setting and prop had to be authentic. He had other talents as well. As a young man he played football with Athea and was nick-named “Hopper ¬ after the great Hopper McGrath. He was also a good golfer and when I formed Athea Golf Society he was one of the first to join and more than once appeared in the winner’s enclosure. In his professional life he worked with the farming community advising them on the best ways to maximise their returns. He did this in a very down to earth, friendly manner especially on the radio where, as Dr. Kieran Murphy put it at the hall on Sunday night, “you would think he was leaning over a farm gate, having a chat”.  He may not have lived as long as he might but he had a full life and leaves a big legacy to today’s generation of actors who must honour his memory by keeping the show on the road and continuing to bring the joy of the play to all into the future. Our sympathies to his wife Mary and family. Our loss is great but theirs  is so much more.  We won’t see his likes again so, farewell Oliver – exit stage left!

Sunday also saw the passing of another man in Athea who was taken before his time. Pat Collins of Templeathea had been ill for a while but it is difficult to comprehend why some people are taken and others are left. I first met him when I did a bit of work for his father Paddy many,  many years ago. He was only a young lad then but he grew up to be a fine quiet gentleman and a great family man. Himself and his wife Mary used to bring their daughter Alanna into Noreen’s playgroup in Abbeyfeale and it was easy to see how devoted they were to her. Our thoughts and prayers are with Mary and Alanna at this sad time and our sympathies to the extended families.

The scaffolding is up on the bridge to enable the cleaning and painting works to begin. The bridge itself is a one way system controlled by traffic lights. They are causing a bit of a delay, especially in the morning and evening when traffic is at its heaviest but it is only temporary and we need to have a bit of patience. There is one thing I have noticed about most of these automatic traffic lights and that is that there is far too long a time between the red light coming on at one side and the green light on the other. It leaves minutes with traffic stopped on both sides. This encourages some people to break the lights and have a go. This is dangerous, especially with traffic coming in from the Glin road as well. Maybe the interval between changes could be shortened just a little but please don’t take chances. The last thing we want is an accident there.


Readers:                                                    Sat Sept 4th: Tom O’Keeffe  Sun Sept 5th: Linda Hunt

Eucharistic Ministers:                            Sat: B Ahern , M Donoghue   Sun: Y Roche , M Hunt.

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

The Church is open daily for private prayer. If you wish to book an anniversary mass, a wedding or get a mass card signed please contact Fr. Brendan on 087-0562674 or Siobhan on 087-2237858.

Baptismal Information Any parent who wishes to baptise their child must have the baptismal course completed – for further details please contact Theresa on 087 1513565. Next course date: Tues 14th September.