Domhnall de Barra, Athea Community Council making a presentation to Dr. Kieran Murphy on the occasion of his retirement with Sean Liston (CFRs & Sub committee member) Lillian O’Carroll and Damien Ahern, Athea Community Council

Happy Retirement Dr. Murphy

On August 1st 1984 Kieran and Val Murphy chose Athea as their home and set up a GP practice in our community. Since the beginning, Kieran and his staff have taken us under their wings and cared for us all when we needed it most. As a community we are eternally grateful for all Kieran has done for us, and for his selfless commitment to the medical needs of our parish. A sub committee of Athea Community Council, made up of representatives of voluntary groups in the parish, was recently established tasked with planning an event to mark this important occasion. On Friday evening last, we were delighted to present Kieran with an invitation to a ‘Celebratory Tea Party’ which will take place in Spring 2022 at Con Colbert Hall, when it is safe to do so, allowing our community an opportunity to pay tribute to Kieran publicly. The invitation was beautifully designed by our own talented artist Mary Teresa Hurley. Thanks to Kieran, Val and family for all they have done for us, and wishing Kieran a long and very happy retirement.

A West Limerick Man in New York who helped me           By Fr. Brendan Duggan

Timmy Ahern from Rooska, Athea/Carrigkerry emigrated as an 18 year old to Wookside, NYC in the late 1950s. He set up a small paint shop in two blocks away from St. Mary’s Church, Winfield, whose Pastor Monsignor Peter Fox helped Timmy to start a business as a painting contractor. Timmy was deeply involved in the parish, which began in 1854 as a German enclave in Queens. Woodside became very Irish in the early 50’s. At it’s peak St. Mary’s had a school with 1200 children. Monsignor Fox was a great priest with many influential friends and I believe he encouraged Timmy in his career. In 1964 Timmy Set up Ahern Painting Company and it got bigger as he began to be contracted to paint the bridges of New York– Brooklyn Bridge 4½ miles long, costing $165 million over 3 years, Manhattan Bridge, Tribora Bridge etc. Timmy was on a roll and his turnover became over $300 million/year. He also, with his two sons and daughter Ann’s husband ran a construction Company building public Schools for New York City and State. Timmy never forgot Monsignor Fox and the encouragement he gave him. Timmy’s company was in 49th Ave, two blocks away from St. Mary’s Church which I worked in as a priest from 2007 – 2014, before I returned to Ireland.

I arrived in Winfield in 2007 as Curate (Associate Pastor). I also was a Missions Fundraiser. We had a yearly Dance in the Fall which brought in around $50 thousand. I had a journal which used to take in over $30,000 in Ads for $500, $200 and $100. I got to know Timmy, he knew I was an East Limerick man which was a help as he was from Rooskagh. I had no idea where Rooskagh was, I thought it was near Newcastle West, but I was surprised to find it near Athea, in a beautiful but rather remote hilly area. I wouldn’t like to travel it at night as there are many roads to “God knows where”. Timmy had two sons, Tommy Jnr. and Kieran and a daughter Ann who married Liam Hareney whom I got to know well as they all lived in Manhasset, Long Island, a rather posh area.

At one of our dances I had Kieran Ahern as our guest of honour and we raised $60,000 Dollars. Timmy had his bank manager give me $2,000 for an ad and some of his friends and suppliers shelled out $500 page ads (green coloured) . So Timmy was a good friend and a great supporter. Now I am coming to the interesting part. Our parish was poor. We had a lot of Irish families that came to us since we were Irish Priests. I was chaplain to the Irish illegal immigrants in Brooklyn and Queens so we had many Irish emigrants who came to our church in times of need. I dealt with suicides, county Associations, was a regular at the Irish Consulate in the City where I met what I call the Irish Aristocracy. These were the successful Irish in New York and I also met some of our important politician etc., so it was interesting at times.

Anyway our parish was rundown and a few jobs needed to be done, we had a nice gymnasium in the former school with a nice tin roof which some former foolish person painted over with lead paint. Now you all know lead paint is poisonous and it began to flake off. I was afraid some child would pick up some and be poisoned. We had the school and gym rented to a Jewish group running a special needs school for the city of New York and a yearly rent of $350,000 which kept the parish financially viable. It was urgent to repair the gym ceiling asap. I asked Timmy for a job estimate and after three attempts it would cost about $15000. Then he said he would do it for nothing if we could get it for a week, the gym closed. I asked two more Irish painters for an estimate and one guy wanted $30,000 and the next guy $35,000. It was up it was going. Timmy had a new cherry picker and his two men did a fast 48 hour job on cleaning the ceiling and finished the job on  the Friday of the Independence Day (July 4th) week. They painted the ceiling with a beautiful white paint supplied free by one of Timmy’s paint suppliers and costing a few thousand dollars. Val, my maintenance man, got a very long brush over 20 feet long with a small brush on top with which he dabbed extra paint on the parts of the tin ceiling which continued to shed some small pieces of lead paint down. This lasted for a couple of weeks as the painters had not completely cleaned the tin roof of lead. After about a month the job was perfect and beautiful. I reckoned it saved the parish about $60,000 as we had no cost for cherry picker or paint or workers who got at least $40 to 50 dollars an hour and insurance. A regular painter would have taken several weeks. Our bridge in Athea took 6 weeks. Timmy’s men were pro’s however, painting bridges.

Job no 2 involved the repair and rewiring of our Church’s wiring system. Our Church had 24 large chandeliers, each with 4 bulbs using an average of 500 watts or more. I immediately replaced the bulbs on each chandelier with 4 23W Leds. This lowered the electricity bill four fold. I found the Led bulbs were blowing due to the wiring being too old and also dangerous. I brought in a local Italian electrician to change the wiring. His two men changed the wiring in two of the chandeliers costing $1,500 per day. I went to Timmy for advice and he gave me his own electrician, a Filipino, to do the job. The Filipino electrician began at 9am after Mass and together with Val my young man, Don Houshech, the organist and myself, we worked all day until 10.30 and re-changed all the chandelier wiring and charged me $1,200. He even wanted to do it cheaper as he was Timmy’s man who was so good to him. The Church wiring job saved me at least $40-50 thousand. The other guys would have knocked about a month out of it and made plenty of dough.

To be continued next week…………………………………….



Timmy Woulfe, writer, historian, dance master, footballer extraordinaire has launched his book “As Tough as Tathfhéithleann”, a list of Irish words and phrases which were commonly used in the parish of Athea in the last century. This would make a great Christmas surprise for our ex pats.

The Way I See It

By Domhnall de Barra

It is the end of an era in Athea. On Friday last, Dr. Kieran Murphy put in his last shift at the surgery to start enjoying his well deserved  retirement.  Since his arrival in the village, 37 years ago, he has built up an exemplary practice and looked after the health of, not only the people of Athea but also the surrounding areas.  His popularity underlines his manner as a GP and the way in which he made everyone feel special. Consultation time could be any length, which sometimes meant that we spent a little longer in the waiting room than we anticipated, but the patient’s welfare came before any clock and he was always willing to go the extra mile. In my own case I can say that he turned my life around. About 14 years ago I began to feel unwell and, like many other men, tried to deny the fact that there was something wrong until I got a bad pain one night and I had to go and see Kieran. I expected to be told that I had prostate cancer but was relieved to discover that it was diabetes.. I had not exercised since I gave up playing football etc in my late twenties so he laid out a whole new regime for me which included walking every day. After about six months he said to me at one visit; “I will keep you alive for another 13 years ‘till I retire and somebody else can be looking after you after that”. At the time I thought I would never last that long but, true to his word, I am still around and, due to his care, I am over two stone lighter and as healthy as I have ever been in my life. I’m sure many of you have similar stories to tell. He has the ability to make you feel special and more of a friend than a patient. In many ways, his coming to Athea was the saving of the place. If the clinic wasn’t there we wouldn’t have the Chemist, a great addition to the village. It also acts as a business hub because people who come from the surgery to get prescriptions often call into the local shops as well and this ensures that we are not like other small villages where all commerce has ceased.  Athea Community Council set up a sub-committee to organise a farewell do where all the parish can pay their respects to Kieran but with Covid the way it is at the moment this will not happen until the New Year. On Friday evening last, a few of  us met Kieran after he finished work and made a small presentation to himself and his wife Val. The real presentation will take place at the parish do which I  hope won’t be too far away.  The good news is that the  clinic is continuing with Dr. Wallace from Glin joining the team.  I wish her every success and hope I don’t have to see her too often!!

The cost of insurance is a big problem in Ireland at the moment. There are many reasons why this is so but it is hard to look any farther than the legal fraternity and the courts who seem to think money grows on trees. Rewards for injuries suffered in accidents, some of them superficial, are far higher in this country than in others, especially our nearest neighbour. There was one case lately where a child who suffered  injury while being born, due to the negligence of the hospital, was awarded €30 million. I understand that the child will need life long specialist care and that a lot of money is necessary but that amount of money is far too much. At the other end of the scale there are those who have made a living out of falling in  business premises and claiming off the insurance. In most cases the figures agreed are not too high and the insurer settles out of court but then the premium goes up and the business is in trouble. There was one guy from Cork who was well known for falling down open manholes and tripping over loose cobblestones and making small claims which were settled out of court. When he was in Germany one time, he  saw an open  beer cellar door on the street and couldn’t pass up the opportunity. He claimed from the insurance company but found out that they had a different system there and he had to go to a small claims court. The magistrate asked him what happened and he explained that he had fallen down because the door was open.  He then asked him why he wasn’t carrying a white stick at the time. The Cork man was taken aback and protested that there was nothing wrong with his eyes to which the magistrate replied that in that case he had no excuse for not seeing such a big opening on the pavement and dismissed the case. A bit more of that type of justice here wouldn’t go amiss. The same applies to car insurance. The settlements here are sometimes  way out of proportion and of course we all pay for them. There have been changes in the laws recently that should cut the legal costs and settlements but don’t hold your breath waiting for the premiums to return to normal.

It is difficult to understand this new variant of Covid. It was discovered by the authorities in South Africa who alerted the world only for some countries to immediately put a ban on travel from there. It was a knee jerk reaction and very unfair as it now is obvious that it is already all over the world. Where do we stand? I am  one of the lucky ones who is fully vaccinated but I am now told that  I could contract the new variant and also infect others. We don’t know yet how severe it is going to be but we must all now be cautious. The wearing of masks by young children has caused a bit of a stir with some parents not willing to let their offspring  do so. I listened to some “experts” on the radio discussing it the other day and I was amazed at what I heard. One contributor  bemoaned the fact that children had not been consulted  before the regulation was put in place and that their civil rights were being ignored. How ridiculous can it get?  A bit of decent parenting is what is needed. This idea of letting children decide what is or is not good for them is a nonsense. Bring back common sense.


Mass Intentions next weekend

Sat Dec 11th 7.30pm:                  Bob Guiry and Kitty Hough. Paudie Mulvihill. Ellen Tierney.

Sun Dec 12th 10.30am:   Fr. Gerry Roche.

All masses are streamed live on

If you wish to book a mass etc., phone Siobhán on 087-2237858

Ministers of the Word and Ministers of the Eucharist 

Sat 11/12   Tom O’Keeffe & Mary Sheahan

Sun 12/12  Tom Denihan & Mary Hunt

Baptismal Information: Any parent wishing to baptise their child must have completed the baptismal course. Next course Tues Dec 14th – Please contact Theresa for further details 087 1513565

RIP Your prayers are requested this week for Mrs Mary Ahern, Coole West, recently deceased.

Christmas Mass Bouquet Cards are available in the church.