News – 27/10/2020

Happy 90th & 89th Birthday with hugecongratulations to these two lovely gentlemen Connie and Patie O’Sullivan, Lower Road, Athea.
Wishing you both many more years of health and happiness.

Petition Against Proposed Mast in Athea

A petition sheet will be available for signing at Collin’s Shop and Griffin’s Butchers with regard to the proposed Eir mast which is to be located at the back of the Garda Station. Please sign if you have objections to this tall mast in the middle of the village before November 6th. These petition signatures will be forwarded to Limerick County Council and may have a big bearing on the granting of permission.

The Use Of Smart Phones

In today’s world, smart phones are  playing a big part in our day to day activities. No longer are phones just for making and receiving calls, they are mini computers and are capable of  connecting us to the world wide web. Increasingly more and more business is done on line and, in these times of lockdown, the Mass can be seen and heard in the comfort of our own homes. Young people have no problem operating smart phones, they grew up with them, but there is a large group of older people who need help getting to understand what to do. The way things are at the moment it is impossible to organise a formal class but maybe there is some other way of getting information to those who need it.

This virus will not last forever and, with God’s help, we will be back to some kind of normality but, in the meantime, if anyone has any ideas, please contact me, Domhnall de Barra on 087 6758762 or email me at

Golf and Bodhráns

by Domhnall de Barra

It is no secret that I enjoy a game of golf now and again so I might be a bit biased when I complain about the fact that it has been lumped in with other sports that are banned for the extent of the lock down. Once upon a time golf was a sport for the privileged few and it was almost impossible for the ordinary Joe Soap to get into a club but that day is long gone and it is now the preferred game of many in all walks of life. There are a couple of reasons for this: it can be played at almost any age and the handicap system gives everybody an even chance of winning.  It is not really about the winning though, it is about comradeship, fitness and being out in the open air for four to five hours at a time. You might meet a stranger on the first tee but by the eighteenth hole you will have discovered a good deal about  that person and, of course  you will have divulged a lot of information about yourself. Golf is also great for the mind. It teaches you to accept victory and defeat in equal measure. Today you may go out and hit some great shots, finding the greens in regulation and hitting the fairways and you come home feeling seven feet tall but tomorrow all that may change and you spend your time hacking out of the rough or trying to get out of the bunkers. There are no two days alike but if you can manage a few good shots and sink the odd putt you can leave the course in great form. The age profile in golfers has swayed in recent years towards the over 50s and especially the 65 plus brigade who are retired and find it a great help in passing the time. It is of great importance to the mental wellbeing of somebody who might otherwise live a lonely existence with little social contact. It is a non-contact sport, as somebody said to me lately, “when you are taking a swing at a ball there is nobody trying to hook you.”   You never get close up and personal with anybody else on the course and golf clubs have done their best to provide guidelines on how we can avoid catching the virus. We travel alone to the course just in time to tee off and leave it immediately afterwards. Hand sanitizers are located throughout and there is no touching of flagpoles etc.  Social distancing is observed but the very nature of the game means there is little chance of getting close to anybody. Physical contact such as hand shaking is not allowed and everybody is happy. Unfortunately the powers that be have decreed that all courses should close, despite the fact that there is no evidence of any transmissions from golfer to golfer. I will certainly miss it and I know of many who feel the same way. In allowing the GAA competitions to go ahead, the government line was that it was important for the people to have something to look forward to well, I think that the closure of golf courses will have a detrimental affect on thousands of men and women throughout Ireland. They got it wrong!


In last week’s edition we had a photo of Jerry Brouder with a selection of bodhráns that he had made. This was, traditionally, the time of year when bodhráns or “tambourines” as we used to call them, were made to be ready for the Wren Day. The Wren Day was a very important day in the social calendar of our forefathers as it presented an opportunity to collect funds that would be used for a wren party just after Christmas. There was great skill in making a good bodhrán. A good goat was selected and killed. The skin was carefully removed, treated with lime and buried in the ground for a length of time to remove the hair and impurities. It was then scraped and placed in water, more often than not in a nearby stream.  The rim was made from a length of wood about a half inch thick and about six inches wide. This had to be bent into a circular shape  by bending it over steam from a pot of boiling water. There was a skill in getting the pressure just right  to make as good a circle as possible. The skin was then stretched over the rim and tacked on. Excess skin was removed around the tacks and now it was time to put some finishing touches. Many bodhrán makers added flattened bottle tops to small slits cut at intervals around the rim. A few would be inserted in the slit with a nail through the centre and they would act like cymbals when the bodhrán was shaken.  A piece of wood or wire was attached across the open ended side of the bodhrán to make a handle and another piece of wood was whittled to make a short stick with two bulbous ends for striking the skin. The bodhrán was then stored in a dry place ready for action on St. Stephen’s Day. Later on it was easier to use a section of a wooden barrel or an old sieve for the rim. I was thinking of this when I was looking at Jerry’s workshop. Goats don’t have to die anymore because the skin has been replaced by synthetic material which is ready to be used.  The wood is shaped on a modern machine and nothing is left to chance. The type wood, the strength of the skin, the depth and size of the finished article, all decide what the tone of the instrument will be. Bodhrán players have different preferences and Jerry can cater for them all. There is also a sophisticated type of bodhrán  that has two rims, one inside the other connected by screws that can be tightened and loosened to move one of the rims against the skin to tighten it, a far cry from the days when they had to be heated at the fires of the homes visited on the Wren Day. Jerry’s bodhráns are in great demand and we wish him every success in the future.


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News – 20/10/2020

Sorry for missing last week’s issue. We had a problem with our host but we are back online again. We will try to keep going during the current lock down but we need help from you all with articles, photos etc. We would particularly like to her from some of you who live outside the region, whether in other parts of Ireland or overseas, with your views and observations. Stay safe.  Domhnall

Jerry Brouder, Gale View, with some of the bodhráns he has made recently. Jerry is fast making a reputation as one of the best bodhrán makers in the business.

Letter on Proposed Mast

A notice was put up last week on the wall of the Garda Station here in Athea by Eircom (Eir) looking for planning permission to erect a 21 metre (70 ft) high telecommunications structure with antennas, dishes and other equipment at the back of the Garda Station. This mast would be a complete eyesore in the village (50ft high) and at this time with the Corona Virus epidemic we have enough to do to protect our health without worry of any health implications that could be associated with any communications mast. I will be objecting to the planning myself and if any other people or organisations would like to object they can do so by contacting Limerick County council within a 4 to 5 week period, but the sooner done the better.

Thanking you.

Yours sincerely

John Matthews

Temporary Closure of CE Scheme

As we go to press, we have just learned that the CE Scheme (formerly known as the FAS Scheme) will close due to the recent decision by the government to go to level 5 restrictions in the fight against the Corona Virus. It is happening at a good time of the year because grass cutting has ended and all that is left is keeping the streets and parks clean and brushing up the leaves. In the absence of the scheme it is up to everybody in the village to make sure that the area immediately outside their own premises is kept neat and tidy. It will only take a couple of minutes each day.

St. Bartholomew’s Church, Athea

In keeping with Level 5 guidelines all mass services are now broadcast online. Mass times will remain the same as follows:  Thursday morning 10.30am, Friday & Saturday evening at 7.30pm and Sunday morning at 10.30am.

You can access the mass in the following ways:

View on our webcam service via the following link

Tune in on local church radio – there are a small number of these radios still available, please contact Siobhan on 087-2237858.

Listen to mass in the church car park area via the outside speaker system.

Funeral services will be private and up to 10 mourners can attend.

Mass Intentions this week

Friday 23rd Oct Joan Woulfe (1st anniversary)

Sat & Sun 24th/25th Oct Private Intentions.

Church Opening Hours

The church will be open daily to the public for private prayers (in keeping with current restrictions) from 9am – 1pm (except when there is a funeral service taking place).

If you need to book an Anniversary mass, a wedding date, a baptism date or get a mass card signed please contact

Fr Brendan on 087-2600414 or Siobhan on 087-2237858.

Once again we thank you most sincerely for your patience and understanding.


By Domhnall de Barra

They say you don’t question your own mortality until one of your contemporaries dies. It was brought home to me this week when my boyhood friend and neighbour, John Ward, passed away. John, or “Johnson”, as he was affectionately known by his mates, and I grew up together in the middle of the last century. We met at the creamery one morning and he invited me to come down there the following afternoon for a game of handball. The creamery in Cratloe had a good back wall and a concrete yard so it was ideal doubling as a ball alley. From then on we did the usual things together like playing football, handball, fishing etc. John’s parent’s, Larry and Hannie had a lovely house across the road from Healy’s Forge. Like many houses at crossroads it was a great meeting place for neighbours and many is the game of cards we played there in the winter nights. The more seasoned card players would let us in for a couple of games and tolerated us but that did not stop us getting an ear bashing if we failed to follow a lead or “hit” one of our partners. We became good enough after a while and ventured further afield. At that time, it was the custom, coming up to Christmas to run a “raffle” or a “gamble” in a house to make a little money for the festive season. I forget which was which but one had card games only while the other had cards in the room and set dancing in the kitchen.  You paid your shilling, or whatever it was at the time, and had a chance of winning a goose or turkey. One woman I knew had a game each year for a pair of woollen socks she knitted herself!   John and myself preferred the ones that had the dancing for two reasons. Firstly, some people were loathe to allow young lads to take part but I was able to play the accordion and was always welcome. Secondly, where there was dancing there were girls of our own age and, like all healthy young men, we always had the eye out for the “shift”. On one occasion, at a house in Knocknasna, we both, unknown to each other, had our eyes on the same girl. I had been playing for a set while John was chatting her up where she was making sandwiches in a back room. As I finished off the set he was called into the room to make up a table for cards and I asked the girl to dance. After the dance we went out to a nearby hay shed for a bit of a “court” For years later John referred to that night as “the night Barry stole my woman”.

Sadly, like most of our generation, we had no option but to take the boat to England. John went to London and I went to Coventry so our paths did not cross for a long while except maybe briefly at some Christmas when we were home at the same time. In the early 70s we returned to Ireland and renewed our friendship. We both drank in Dan Gleeson’s pub and played darts  together on his team. John was a very good darts player and we had many memorable nights. One in particular comes to mind when we were playing a Listowel team one of the best around at the time. The lads who played  the first three legs were beaten 3 – 0 so we were up against it. We played out of our skins, winning the three games and levelling the match. In the decider we played against their best two and we won with John finishing on his favourite double; double 6.  Later on he ran a very successful pub of his own in Abbeyfeale at a time when the pub trade was very good. I played music in his dancing lounge on a regular basis for many years. John eventually got out of the pub business and turned to farming and cattle dealing. He had an association with the local cattle mart and was known as a very astute judge of animals. Our paths did not cross as much in recent years. John gave up drinking and I was away a lot with Comhaltas.  Sadly he fell into ill health and spent many years in and out of hospital. At the end of last year I met him at a funeral and I promised him I would call to the house where we could reminisce about old times. I thought I had plenty of time and then the virus hit so I never got to fulfil my promise. It is something I will regret to my dying day because I should have done it straight away instead of putting it on the long finger. Sadly, time ran out for John but he has left me many great memories of a time when things were a lot tougher than they are today but they were also much simpler. We always had something to do and I will always treasure his great friendship. John was, above all, a gentleman whose popularity in the locality could be gauged by the large crowds of people who lined the streets of Abbeyfeale as his funeral cortege passed by on his final journey to Reilig Íde Naofa.  Sincere sympathy to his wife Mary and all his family. May he rest in peace.

Funerals have changed completely since the advent of the virus. It is no longer possible to have funeral homes open with large crowds filing in to sympathise with the mourners and Masses are restricted to family members, basically. People pay their respects by leaving cards and messages and by forming guards of honour by the funeral procession. Part of me thinks this is a good thing. While we may want to show our sympathy to close friends and neighbours, it spares people the ordeal of standing, shaking hands, for over two hours. I have been through this ordeal many times myself and, a lot of the time, I was shaking hands with people I did not know. Likewise I have often gone to a funeral of a friend who lived far away and had to shake hands with all the mourners whom I had never met before. When somebody dies it is a very traumatic time for the family and I think they need time together, as a family, to comfort each other  and help each other to get through a very trying time. The last thing they need is hundreds of people descending on them to shake their hands and utter words of sympathy. Perhaps, when the virus is finally defeated, we will take a different approach to how we say goodbye to neighbours and friends. I, for one, would welcome it.




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Athea Tidy Towns – 20/10/2020

By Damien Ahern

Our flowers have now been removed and the baskets are in storage for another year. The fine weather early in the summer helped the flowers to blossom and added colour to the street at a time when some colour and joy was needed. Thanks to all our volunteers who kept the baskets watered throughout the summer.

Work on the River Walk continues. Some bulbs were planted in the last few days and the arch was also erected on site. The arch is of a large size and will provide the perfect setting for photographs. The benches have also arrived and will be installed in the coming months. Thanks to our sponsors who have come on board to fund these benches. 

Unfortunately it is not possible to have our annual church gate collection this year. Instead, we will be setting up a gofundme page online and will also be placing collecting buckets in local establishments for the month of November. The Athea community have always been of huge support to us financially and we expect this year will be no different. Unlike other tidy towns groups we continued to erect our flowers and work on the River Walk during the Covid Lockdown. Your support is very much appreciated.

We were delighted to receive funding to erect a Public Water Bottle Refilling station from Limerick City & County Council. We are currently preparing Artwork for the water station and it is hoped this fountain will be erected in the centre of the village. Thanks to Councillor John Sheahan for providing funding towards the erection of the fountain. With a large amount of cyclists passing through the village, we expect the fountain will be well utilised. 

The Athea Voluntary Housing Committee must be complimented for the excellent paint job organised on their property on Colbert Street. The bright blue colour adds to our streetscape and fits in well with its surroundings. Thanks to our local artist Mary Teresa Hurley for recommending paint choices and the job well done by Noel O’Sullivan Painter.

Huge thanks to the FAS workers under the watchful eye of Jim Carmody who have been a huge support to our tidy towns efforts. The village always looks so well maintained and is a credit to all concerned.

We would like to offer our sympathies to our treasurer Henry Moran and the extended Moran family on the sad passing of Henry’s sister – Mairéad Lehane RIP. May her gentle soul rest in peace.


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