The Ahern family, Gortnagross at the School Centenary Celebrations

Tim Joe Riordan, Dirreen has his turf ready to bring home for the Winter

The Way I See It

By Domhnall de Barra

The past few years have been strange, to say the least. For the first time in our lives we experienced lack of freedom due to the Covid pandemic and had to totally readjust our way of life. Our social life almost disappeared and normal pursuits, like going to the pub, to see a play, go for a meal, the cinema or even to call in to the neighbours were denied to us. During that time some of us became addicted to watching daytime television programmes. I count myself amongst the gullible who spent hours watching what can only be described as pure rubbish, but what else was there to do?  I did, however, discover a few gems. “Last of the Summer Wine” is a programme based on the exploits of three elderly, retired men in Yorkshire who spend their days roaming around the locality and getting into all sorts of bother. It is simple but pure genius and can be watched over and over again. I have the advantage of knowing the area where it is televised but it could be based anywhere and still have the same effect. Another show I really enjoyed was a programme called Q I, a group of comedians around a table with Stephen Fry as the host who asks questions about science, obscure subjects and trivial knowledge to which the comedians respond in as humorous a way as possible.  Most of the subjects are really interesting and I, for one, have learned a lot from them. Quite recently I tuned into the programme again and Stephen was in his element. He is, without doubt, one of the cleverest men on the planet but he succeeds in hiding it well. On this occasion he spoke about the man who first invented the weather forecast. As a matter of fact, this man had two ideas he floated at the same time. One of his theories, about forecasting the weather was rejected out of hand as being impossible but his other theory about why Dinosaurs were extinct was accepted. That theory claimed that the reason dinosaurs disappeared was due to the fact that they were too big to fit in Noah’s Ark!!.  I know that many of you, like me, were taught at school that Noah built a mighty Ark to survive the great flood and put two of every living thing into it to ensure the continuation of the world when the rain stopped. It was, of course, from the old testament which mostly can be taken with a pinch of salt but, as young impressionable people, we believed it. It cannot stand up to any logical or scientific scrutiny but it was what we were supposed to believe.  Dave Allen was a comedian who had a programme on the BBC back in the middle of the last century. He was not a great fan of the old testament and regularly brought it into his comedy routine. Once he said, “Was Noah really a wise man? He brought two of every living creature into the Ark, a wooden structure, including wood lice”.  I worry about whole societies who build their lives around ancient religious scriptures and try to inflict them on the rest of us. Look at the Taliban and what they are trying to do to women in Afghanistan. This is all based on adhering strictly to a set of rules that were laid down so long ago that they have little relevance to today’s world and more enlightened reasoning. This might come as a surprise to many of you but there are still some people who believe that the world is flat!  God bless them.

I have written about the problems in our health service and I had no intention of returning to the subject but the closing of A & E services in Navan Hospital has tempted me to revisit this subject. Have the HSE learned nothing from previous mistakes?. They downgraded many hospitals all over the country, closing services that are now denied to many people because they do not have the capacity to deal with the demand.  There is no point in saying that people will be cared for in Drogheda and elsewhere because they cannot cope with the numbers they are receiving already. Surely it would be better to upgrade the A&E facilities in hospitals like Navan thereby taking the pressure off the “centres of excellence” rather than making a bad situation worse. Wouldn’t it be great if Nenagh and Tipperary hospitals had been upgraded instead of downgraded and would now be in a position to take the pressure of the hospital in Limerick. We have the same kind of thinking with regard to housing. The powers that be don’t want us building one off houses in the countryside, instead they want us all to live in towns where it would be easier to provide services. That policy has resulted in massive rises in house prices in these locations making it almost impossible for ordinary people to own their own homes. Fresh thinking and common sense badly needed.

The recent decision in the US to reverse the Roe v Wade case thereby taking away the right to abortion has serious consequences. The highest court in the land has rescinded a decision made by that body fifty years ago. Can laws be changed just like that just because the current members of the court were put there because of their conservative leanings. Justice is surely supposed to be impartial and those who administer it should never let their personal feelings interfere with their duty to the people. I am not going to get into the rights and wrongs of abortion, there are many on both sides with genuine feelings and misgivings but I think this decision opens the door to further reversals of former rulings. It may soon be back to the dark days when it was illegal to practice homosexuality and gay marriage would be unthinkable and what about birth control?  If these powerful people get their way women will have less rights than their sisters in the most radical of Islamic states. Many of the southern states are rejoicing at the result but then aren’t they the very states who fought a civil war to protect their right to own slaves?  The appointment of judges should have nothing to do with political parties but unfortunately it does. That is why Donald Trump rushed through his conservative appointees just before he left office. It is just another chapter in the story of the damage he has done to what used to be a beacon of hope for the world. I fear for the future unless some middle ground is reached.


Saturday Evening Mass July 2nd at 7.30pm.

Readers:                             Tom O’Keeffe & Jade McMahon

Eucharistic Ministers:     Margaret Ahern & Eilish Geoghegan

Weekday Mass Times this coming week: Tuesday morning 9.30am & Friday Evening 7pm.                                                                                                                   

Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and the Devine Mercy Chaplet on Tuesday morning.

Friday is the First Friday.

Recent Deaths:                                                                                                                                                                      We extend our sympathies to the families of the late Catherine (Kit) O’Connor, Gortnagross, Athea and John Hunt Jnr. late of Texas (ancestral home Athea).

All masses can be viewed online via the following link

Parish office hours:  (Mon – Fri) 11am to 1pm.

Contact Siobhán on 087-3331459 or email [email protected] – outside of these hours please leave a voice/text message. The next baptism course will be on Tuesday July 12th.

“The Fleadh Goes West”

With less than three weeks to go to Fleadh Cheoil na Mumhan 2022, we take a look at the fantastic line-up of events that are planned for Newcastle West.

Starting on Sunday, 10th July there will be a celebration of Aifreann na Fleidhe at 6.30p.m. in the Church of the Immaculate Conception with a mass composed by the late Garry McMahon. This will be followed later in the evening by the official opening of Fleadh Cheoil na Mumhan 2022 in the Longcourt House Hotel where there will be music, song, and dance into the early morning. Also on Sunday night, Seán Ó Muimhneacháin will take the opportunity to launch his book ‘The Cuckoo Sings in May.’

On Monday, events will kick off at 1.00p.m. with an historical walk through the town of Newcastle West starting from the Desmond Castle. If you fancy a rib-tickling evening of stories and laughter, then Cleary’s Bar is the place for you with a storytelling evening hosted by Frances Kennedy starting from 9.00p.m.

There is an incredibly special event planned for Tuesday afternoon in the Red Door Gallery at 1.00p.m., where Louise Mulcahy will share her lecture ‘The Liam O’Flynn Collection: The Legacy of the Master Piper’. Join Louise as she takes you on an exciting journey through some of the unique aspects of the Liam O’Flynn Collection including little-known original compositions, quotes from Liam O’Flynn’s handwritten notes, manuscripts, photographs, and rare field recordings. This promises to be a highlight of the Fleadh so be sure to check it out. A late addition to the programme of events is a whistling workshop hosted by multiple All-Ireland winner, Anita Bennis. Anita will teach you how to improve your tone, your breath control, and your range. Check out this unique workshop in The Silver Dollar at 8.00p.m. And for those of you looking to hear a verse or even sing two yourself, then stick around The Silver Dollar at 9.00p.m. for a singing session hosted by Con Warren. Wednesday will see the start of the competitions which play a huge part of Fleadh Cheoil na Mumhan. From 12.00p.m. on both Wednesday and Thursday at the Longcourt House Hotel, patrons will be treated to the crème de la crème of dancing talent in Munster with céílí dancing, set dancing and sean nós dancing on display until late in the evening.

On Friday, we will welcome the musician, singers & storytellers to the stage when the remaining competitions will take place in Desmond College and Gaelscoil Ó Doghair. Competitions will commence in both venues at 10.00a.m. If you still have some energy to burn by the end of the day, then be sure to head into the town of Newcastle West where there is sure to be an event to take your fancy. The Newcastle West Pipe Band will start proceedings at 7.00p.m. followed shortly after by a Wrenboy display showcasing the best of the strong tradition still alive and well in West Limerick to this day. The second singing session of the week will kick off in The Silver Dollar at 9.30p.m. – this time hosted by the wonderful Deirdre Scanlan of Monagea. Or if you find your feet are tapping and you can resist the urge to dance a few steps, then make your way back to the Longcourt House Hotel for a céilí with Donie Nolan. Admission is €10 and is payable on the door.Competitions will resume on Saturday morning at 10.00a.m. with an alternative activity for those not involved in competitions. The Newcastle West Farmer’s Market will take place as normal in the square offering a fantastic selection of arts, crafts, treats and the best of West Limerick produce. If you stick around the town until 2.00p.m., you will see a variety of talent as the Street Entertainment Competition gets underway. The culmination of the competitions each year at the Fleadh is the Senior Céilí Band competition which will take place at 6.00p.m. in Desmond College. Finally, in case you were not already wrecked from the week’s events, there will be an open-air concert on the gig-rig at Desmond Castle headlined by the mighty group ‘Fuinneamh’ starting at 7.00p.m. Anticipation is starting to build around the town for the festivities with many businesses dressing their shopfronts with bunting, instruments, dancing uniforms and the likes, all which help to bring the spirit of the Fleadh to the locals in the town. All businesses in the town are invited to follow suit and brighten up the town in the lead up to the Fleadh.

To keep up to date with preparations for Fleadh Cheoil na Mumhan 2022 please follow the social media updates on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram by searching for ‘Munster Fleadh’ or the hashtag #TheFleadhGoesWest.