Drama Group Date Changes

Athea Drama Group unfortunately have had to reschedule performances this week will be postponed until next week. The new dates for Dancing at Lughnasa are Thursday 3rd, Friday 4th, Saturday 5th & Sunday 6th. There are seats available on all these nights. For all those who have made bookings we will be in touch to amend bookings. One of these nights will be our charity night. It has been decided that ‘The Irish Cancer Society’ will be our chosen charity for 2022.We will confirm date of the Charity night in the coming days. Proceeds from that night’s show will be donated to the charity, in memory of Oliver McGrath R.I.P.

Free Talk on Addiction & Mental Health 

Healthy Athea will be running an awareness night with former Limerick hurling legend Ciarán Carey.

This event will be a very worthwhile evening as he will be dealing with the signs of addiction in our community and better understanding of the signs and dealing with mental health issues.

It promises to be a very worthwhile evening. February 25th at Con Colbert Hall @ 7.30pm.

Membership now Open for 2022

County Fleadh for Athea

Athea has been awarded the Limerick County Fleadh Cheoil which will be held over the June Bank Holiday weekend. This is great news and a welcome boost for our village. The local Comhaltas branch will need a lot of help to run this huge event so a meeting to organise the Fleadh Committee will be held at the Top of the Town on Monday Feb 28th. at 8pm All support from clubs, organisations and individuals is welcome so please come along. If we cannot show that we have enough help run the event  we may lose it so a good turn-out on Monday next is vital.

ST. BARTHOLOMEW’S CHURCH, ATHEA

Mass Intentions next weekend

Sat Feb 26th 7.30pm: Jim & Ellie Kiely and their son Pat.

Sun Feb 27th 10.30am: James & Ellen Collins. Jeremiah & Marie O’Connor and Mary & Dan Carroll.

All masses are streamed live on https://www.churchservices.tv/athea

If you wish to book a mass etc., text/phone Siobhan on 087-2237858 or email the parish office at [email protected]

Ministers of the Word and Ministers of the Eucharist 

Sat 26/2     Mary McGrath / Margaret Ahern  Sun 27/2   Paul Curry / Yvonne Roche

Baptismal Information: Any parent wishing to baptise their child must have completed the baptismal course. Next course Tues Mar 8th – Please contact Theresa for further details 087 1513565

Wishing Fr. Brendan a very Happy 75th Birthday this week –  May he continue to be blessed with good health. Sincere good wishes.

The Way I See It

By Domhnall de Barra

When the wearing of face masks was first made compulsory in almost all indoor settings there were some people up in arms, complaining about it. Now that it will no longer be compulsory there are people again protesting that it is premature and puts vulnerable people in danger. Well, the person who said “you can’t please all the people all the time” got it spot on. The fact that it will no longer be mandatory does not mean that everyone has to stop wearing masks. I, for one, am going to continue to wear my mask where I think it is necessary, mainly because I don’t want to catch Covid but also because, if I did, I would not want to infect anyone else. There are certain people who are very uncomfortable wearing masks and that is understandable. Others, like myself, have no problem, in fact I find them warm on the face in cold weather. It is up to everybody to decide for themselves and take the common sense approach. My health is my own responsibility and it is up to me to take whatever steps are necessary to protect myself and others. It is great that we have reached this stage of a pandemic that has crippled the world for the past couple of years. Thankfully the number of people in hospital, and particularly in ICU is coming down every day so, though we are not yet quite out of the woods, the light at the end of the tunnel seems to be shining that bit brighter. Vaccination has played a huge part in getting us to this stage. I know there are still people who don’t want to take the vaccine and that is their own choice but that choice has consequences if they want to travel abroad or attend some gatherings. I have been taking vaccines for years to protect me from the flu in winter and I must say that, to date, I have seen no ill effects and, touch wood, I don’t know what it is like to have the flu. I remember when I was growing up and there were no vaccines. Every year there were flu’s, measles, mumps, chicken pox, scarlet fever, polio and TB. Polio was one of the worst and left many without the use of a leg. It was quite common to see children walking with the aid of an iron leg brace. TB was rampant in our parish in the ‘50s and ‘60s. I was a victim of it myself and spent many months in an isolation hospital in Tamworth where I saw many people die from the disease. Today, due to advances in medical science, children are vaccinated against all these maladies even though some people are still sceptical about it. On the whole I think the good that comes out of being vaccinated far outweighs the dangers of not being protected.

The ‘50s and ‘60s seem a long time ago now but to some of us it was like only yesterday. I have often commented on how lucky I was to have been born into a time that hadn’t changed much for centuries and then live through the greatest changes the world has ever seen. It was a very different Ireland in those days mainly due to the influence of the Catholic Church. Our whole lives revolved around it. It started every morning with our prayers and then on to school for more prayers before the day’s lessons started. Religion was one of the most important subjects and woe betide any boy or girl who did not know their catechism by heart. We had more prayers before leaving school and of course the family rosary was said every evening. The day finished with  prayers at bedtime. People would not dream of working on a Sunday or Holy Day of Obligation and went to confession and communion once a month. First Confession and Communion are now great celebrations but my memory of them is not as exciting. We prepared at school and had our lines off by heart so, on the appointed day we cycled down to Athea. That was probably the best part of the day because there was a great fall of ground from the top of Knocknaboul down to the village and we could freewheel at great speed all the way. To make the experience better we used to trap a piece of a cigarette box between the brakes and the fork of the bike so that a corner would go through the spokes.  When the wheel moved the fag box plucked the spokes, like a guitar plectrum, and when this was done at speed it sounded like a motorbike engine. So, we careered down the hill pretending we were on racing motorcycles and the village came all too soon. We were put into lines at each side of the confession box and awaited our turn. When mine came I entered and closed the door behind me. Suddenly I was in a dark confined space  that seemed very forbidding and upsetting. I could see nothing but I  could hear murmuring from the other side as the boy on the opposite side of the box made his confession. I kept going over in my mind the words I had been learning off for months until suddenly there was a sharp sound as the priest drew back the little shutter and a ray of light flooded in. “Yes” said the priest and I opened my mouth to say my well rehearsed lines but nothing came out. I was frozen to the spot and panic set in. I was brought to my senses by a shout of “do you want to make your first confession or not” so I hurriedly said “bless me father for I have sinned” and that it was my first time etc and finished with a list of “sins” like “I took the Lord’s name in vain, I cursed, I told lies , I was disobedient to my mother and father” etc, a list of sins I repeated at every confession for years after !  I got my penance of one Our Father and three Hail Mary’s and came out terrified and relieved at the same time. My ordeal wasn’t yet over because the following day was our first Holy Communion. On the morning I was dressed in a new suit with short pants, two sizes too big of course so that I would “grow into it”  I had a collar and tie and a white bow was knotted around my arm. In those days the boys wore white bows on their arms and the girls wore them it their hair. We took our place in the front seats of the church and went up in file to get Communion. When it came to my turn I stuck out my tongue as far as I could and the priest placed the host on it. I got up and returned to my seat but the host had stuck to the roof of my mouth and it wouldn’t budge. Now, we had been warned at school that under no circumstances were we to bite the host or touch it with any part of the body except our tongues. To do so would be a grave sin and would put our souls in mortal danger. I stayed on my knees with my head in my hands as if I was in fervent prayer but I was petrified that I would be cast into the everlasting fires of hell that had been so vividly described to us by our teacher. Eventually, after much probing with my tongue, the host moved and I nearly choked myself swallowing it. The sense of relief was overwhelming. There was no going to the pub or hotel in those days so we came back to the house for the breakfast which we were looking forward to because we had been fasting since 12 o’clock the night before. Before the food a few photos were taken with an old Brownie camera, like a little box held at the waist, to record the event. The photos from these cameras were of great quality and still exist today. Then it was off with the new clothes, on with the rags and the Communion day was over. We might get sixpence or a shilling from family members and neighbours but nothing like what young people get today. My only problem was that I had to go to Communion again after a month and I was a bag of nerves in case the same thing happened with the host. Of course it did but the panic wasn’t as bad and I knew if I waited long enough it would eventually shift. So, I can’t say that I remember with great fondness my first Confession and Holy Communion but they certainly were not forgettable. In contrast, today’s young people have a whale of a time and good luck to them. We have come a long way.