The Way I See It

By Domhnall de Barra

The threat of AI (artificial Intelligence) is bigger than  most of us think and could effect us in so many ways. We may think that we are smarter than machines but in actual fact we are not. This can be proved by using a simple calculator. Enter a seven digit number and multiply it by another high number. The calculator will give you an instant result, which will always be correct, while the human brain hasn’t got the capacity to do so, at least not as quickly. In these  days of mass communication we have no idea if the voice we are talking to or the person we are messaging is a human being or a machine. We should take the warning from some of those who worked on developing AI seriously when they have fears for its use into the future. We use it all the time. When we pick up a phone and ask “Siri” for something we are using a form of AI.  Modern cars will react to voice controls and are able to scan all the traffic around and alert us to potential danger. They can even drive themselves without any input from a human being. It is now possible to replicate someone’s voice to the extent that it would be impossible to know which is real and which is not. Images can also be produced with perfect copies of people and objects. It would be  great help to those out there who thrive on distributing false information if they could have a video of someone actually saying something that is completely manufactured. This is not confined to a small minority, governments constantly spread false information and propaganda in the interest of “national security” so be very careful in future when receiving emails and messages on social platforms. What you see might not be what you think.

I had the sad experience of watching Limerick Minors being mauled by Kerry on Thursday night. It was a big comedown from the highs of the victory over Tipperary but, then again, this was Kerry where underage football is a kind of religion and there is a definite gulf in class. I think Limerick are far better than they were on Thursday night. Once Kerry came at them, following a period of twenty minutes where Limerick were on top, they looked like rabbits caught in the headlights of a car and once their heads went down it opened the door for the lads from the Kingdom who took full advantage. It brought me back to my days playing football for St. Ita’s College in Abbeyfeale. For some reason we played in the Kerry Colleges League, not the Limerick one, so we were pitted against teams like the CBS in Tralee who would have half the Kerry Minor team on it. Our best player in those days was also a Kerry minor, Billy Doran from Lyreacrompane, but the rest of our team, though talented in their own right, were no match for the Kerry lads. We were regularly on the wrong side of heavy defeats and it did our confidence no good. We did, however improve and eventually we defeated St. Michael’s, Listowel, a match in which I think I played my best football scoring 1-3 on the day. The Limerick lads may be down now but they too will learn from their defeat and I am sure, if the game was played again, they would give a far better account of themselves. Anyway they deserve our praise and   thanks for giving us a great boost this year, especially our three local representatives who made names for themselves in the green jersey.

The local elections in the North are being hailed as a great success for Sinn Féin, which it was, but it is not the result I had hoped for. Yes, Sinn Féin gained seats and became the largest party but they took the extra seats from smaller, middle ground parties and not from the DUP who held onto what they had. This is not good for politics and is heading towards a huge divide between one extreme and the other with nobody having influence in the middle. We can see how bad that is by looking at America where the left and right  are at polar opposites and there is no room for moderation. If Sinn Féin had taken seats from the DUP it would have given a very different message but the fact that they didn’t now means that there is little chance of the assembly being restored in the near future.  Whatever the DUP say about the Northern protocol being the problem, I have a feeling they do not want to take part in the assembly with Michelle O’Neill as First Minister. There will now be renewed calls for a border poll but the time is not right for that yet and I fear the majority of people in the North would vote to stay in the UK for purely economic reasons. We can only watch and wait.

The latest proposals to “save the planet” involves re-wetting boglands and other lands that have been drained. This is coming from the very same body that gave grants to farmers, a few decade ago, to drain these very lands and use them for productive farming. It is bad news for places like Athea where most of the land used by farmers fits into this category. Following the advice to open dykes, drain lands, clear away ditches and hedgerows and use fertiliser is now seen as being the wrong thing to do. It seems that more and more animal species are in danger of extinction because their natural habitat has disappeared.  Of course it is sad to see this happen but has every living thing a right to be there forever? Should we still have dinosaurs and mammoths wandering through the countryside?  Trying to turn back the clock may be more difficult than it seems. If we go down the route suggested, Athea will become a wilderness  like many other rural areas in the western half of the country. Small farmers will be a memory and, with a reduction in the population schools and shops will not be needed. Not a good prospect to look forward to.  It is very easy to come up with figures and statistics but there has to be a balance and it is up to our government to make sensible proposals that will help the environment and also keep people on the land, otherwise we might all have to go back to living in caves. At least, if that happens, there will be plenty wild animals to hunt – oh no, I forgot, it will be illegal to kill them!!

Pat O’Neill will be walking from Killarney to Athea this week travelling from Killarney to Abbeyfeale on Friday 26th, and travelling from Abbeyfeale to Athea on Saturday 27th in memory of his friend James Collins who was a native of Athea. Pat is inviting people to join him on the walk ‘Running Up that Hill’. Anyone wishing to join Pat on Saturday are asked to meet at the Square in Abbeyfeale at 10am. An Oak Tree will be planted at the River Walk in Athea at 1pm on Saturday on completion of the walk.

St. Bartholomew’s Church Athea

Intentions for next Saturday May 27th 7.30pm:

Mary Dalton & Sr. Liam O’Sullivan. Mick McCoy.

Thomas Broderick & John Pyke. Margaret O’Connell.

Ministers of the Word:            Denise O’Riordan & Mary McGrath.

Ministers of the Eucharist:      Mary Hunt & Mary Sheaha

All mansses are streamed live on https://www,

Baptisms on the 4th Saturday of the month at 2.30pm. Baptism course on Tues June 13th at 8pm.

Parish Office: Mon-Fri 11am-1pm. Call 087-3331459, email [email protected]

Parish Clerk’s Collection will take place next weekend May 27th .

Envelopes in your box of envelopes or available at the doors of the church. Thank  you for your continued support.

Sum of Money Found on the grounds of the church after the First Holy Communion last Saturday – further detail contact Hannah Mai Collins 087 2883095

Bishop Brendan will be visiting the parish next Thursday May 25th for the Confirmation Ceremony at 1.30pm .


Athea National School pupils on their Holy Communion Day