News – 04/06/2020

by Domhnall de Barra

Contact:  [email protected]                          Phone: 087 675 8762

This week we have articles from Jer Kennelly (Knockanure Notes), Peg Prendeville (Knockdown News), Marion Harnett (Abbeyfeale Notes), Tom Ahern (By Carrig Side) and Kathleen Mullane (Kathleen’s Corner).  There are also some classified ads.

Well known local photographer, Liz Murphy sent me the following piece about Connie O’Sullivan, Lower Road, one of the finest gentleman I have ever encountered. I am grateful to Liz for sharing this with us and wish Connie all the best in the future.

Connie O Sullivan, Peace Commissioner, Athea, Co. Limerick.

He has been a dairy farmer for 72 years since he was 18, and is turning 90 this year!
He loves making the hay, and has his own way of turning it that he has perfected over all these years.
He continues to love farming and driving his tractor and, surprisingly, he has never owned a car!
Despite the problems of this lock down year, he informed me it was one of the very best years ever for making the hay!



3rd Anniversary

In loving memory of a dear wife, mother and grandmother

Penny Woulfe

Late of Templeathea, Athea.

Who’s anniversary occurs on 4th of June

I don’t think most children know today what an apron is.

The principle use of Mom’s apron was to protect the dress underneath

because she only had a few.

   It was always because it was easier to wash the apron than dresses and aprons used less material.      But along with that it served as a potholder for removing hot pans from the oven.

It was wonderful for drying children’s tears, and on occasion was even used for cleaning out dirty ears. From the chicken coop the apron was used for carrying eggs and sometimes half hatched eggs to be finished in the warming oven.

Chips and kindling wood were brought into the kitchen in that apron. From the garden it carried all sorts of vegetables.

When unexpected company called it was surprising how much furniture that old apron could dust in a matter of seconds.

It will be a long time before someone invents something that will replace that old time apron that served so many purposes.

They would go crazy now trying to figure out how many germs were on that apron.

I don’t think we ever caught anything from that apron- but LOVE.

Too well loved to ever be forgotten by your loving husband Thady and family.


A poem in the Knockdown News, by Peg Prendeville, about the late Jack Higgins’ lorry, brought back memories to me. Just like Jack, my father had a lorry which was full of turf during the week but on Sundays became the “Mass Lorry”. People jumped on at every crossroad, and other places as well, to get a lift to the church. No talk of health and safety in those days but sure nobody ever fell off or got injured in any way. Our sympathy to the Higgins family on Jack’s passing. May he rest in peace.

I tuned in to the final Late Late Show on Friday night last and I’m glad I did. There was an interview with President Higgins who came across as a real statesman who understands the people of Ireland and wants the best for them. I had occasion to have dealings with him when I was President of Comhaltas Ceoltoirí Éireann and I was very taken with his sincerity, friendliness and command of language. He is one of the best speakers of the English language , which flows quite naturally to him. I thought, watching the TV, how lucky we were to have a leader of such stature in the Park. He follows two ladies who have also been exceptional in that role; Mary McAleese and Mary Robinson. As I watched him sitting there, I couldn’t help but make a comparison with the President across the Atlantic. One is very small in stature while the other is big but the small man cast’s a much bigger shadow. Donald Trump is a big glowering bully who has a minimal grasp of language and no diplomatic skills. He is an embarrassment to the American people every time he tweets or opens his mouth to speak. During the present protests throughout the states, he has threatened to send in the army. As he said “when the looting starts, the shooting starts”. The protests, in the main, have been peaceful but it is a fact of life that there are those, with no interest in the cause, who latch on to protest groups . They may be anarchists who want to cause political upheaval or those who have a grudge against the forces of law and order and grasp the opportunity to mount an attack on them. Then there are the looters who see a chance to steal goods from local businesses in the middle of the mayhem. They may be a small minority but they give the wrong publicity to what is a noble cause. Of course they should be dealt with as all criminals are; arrest and charge. Since when was looting a crime punished by summary execution? Never, but that is what President Trump wants the military to do; shoot them down. God help us all. Perhaps the voters will have their say and turf him out in November. He won’t be out of a job for long – circuses are always looking for clowns!

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Knockdown News – 04/06/2020

by Peg Prendeville

We’re at the end of phase one and hopefully will be entering phase two on Monday next. The advice then will be to still avoid unnecessary journeys wherever possible. You will be able to travel up to 20 kilometres away from your home as opposed to the 5 kilometre limit which has been in place. And up to 4 people may visit another household for a short period of time but everyone must keep at least 2 metres apart from people they don’t live with. Many people are doing their best to stick by the rules but there are chancers too. Hopefully things will not backfire and things will keep improving. Covid 19 has taught us all to slow down “and smell the roses.”

From next week some libraries will re-open but sadly not Glin or Abbeyfeale. Newcastle West and Kilmallock, Dooradoyle and Watch House Cross will offer a service of “Order and Collect” so browsing is still not allowed. I have been assigned to Newcastlewest for the time being. No doubt there will be more information in the weekend papers.

I was sad to hear of the death of Jack Higgins and have fond memories of going to Mass in Athea in the early 60’s in his lorry. So I penned this poem in his memory. Sympathies to all his family.


Jack Higgins’s Lorry

Jack Higgins has died, I just heard in the shop,

And my mind drifted back through the years

Back to the 50s and 60s – yes ‘tis true

When Jack had a different career.

Jack had a lorry put to a different use

Each Sunday morning in state

There he gathered the neighbours to take them to Mass.

He picked them all up at his gate.


Some came on bikes, some walked for two miles

But all would be standing and waiting

Then we would hear him start up the engine

While we looked on in anticipation.

Ever so carefully he’d reverse to the wall

Which was used as a step to get on

The men gave a hand to the women to board

Then the children were helped one by one.


The mothers and small ones were herded up front

And asked to hold on to the railing

While the men at the back ensured all were safe

As to Mass in Athea we went sailing.

Soon we had landed near Collins’s shop

And no one was left in the lurch

As each person was helped to jump off with ease

And walk up the street to the Church.


When Mass was all over and the shopping was done

We walked down the street past the bridge.

Turned the corner, passed the Ball Alley

Where Jack had parked by the hedge.

The banter was great as each changed their news

And discussed all the news at that time

We hung on to our parents in case we fell out

As we drove home ‘long the sweet Kerryline.


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News – 28/05/2020

by Domhnall de Barra

What we should be seeing this weekend. Entertainers on the gig rig in the square 2019

This weekend should have been the occasion of the County Fleadh Cheoil in Athea. It was a great success last year but little did we know that the world would be turned upside down within the year. It would have been a major boost for the local economy and an opportunity for us to celebrate and enjoy our native tradition culture. We can only hope that next year will see an improvement and the sound of fiddles, flutes, accordians etc will once again ring out around the village. The secretary of Comhaltas in Athea, Gráinne Ahern, is posting videos of live music over the weekend on the Limerick Comhaltas Facebook page so log on to bring back memories. Here are a few more reminders of last year’s event.

Session in full flow at the Top of the Town

This was taken at the Fleadh launch

Artwork supplied by Athea Tidy Towns for the Fleadh

Englishman, Ralf, who came for the Fleadh and worked with the committee over the weekend, having a well earned pint with his “landlord” Jerry Brouder

Fleadh Chairman, Francie Flavin, in good form  at the Top with johnny and Betty Cotter

This week we have contributions from Jer Kennelly, Tom Aherne, Peg Prendeville, Marian Harnett and Kathleen Mullane. If anybody else out there would like to sent an article or a photo, please do so. we are also available for anniversaries, thank you prayers etc. Just make contact at [email protected], call me on 087 675 8762 or drop them in the office in Athea.

This is a busy time of the year with the turf and silage cutting. I can’t remember a better year for the turf, the weather was so good. It is strange to see it being brought home already. The windmills have been a great blessing in some bogs as they provided good roads for access. The turf machines are also able to lay the sods close to these roads which makes the harvesting much easier. A big change from the old days of the sleán when some of the banks were a good distance from the nearest passage. Turf had to be drawn out with donkeys and ponies until the tractor made its appearance around the 1960s. With the passage of time we are going to lose much of the terminology associated with turf cutting. People won’t know what a sleán was or how it was worked. Around this area it was driven downwards into the bank but in other areas it was used horizontally. This was known as a “breis sleán” (hope I have the proper spelling!). The man who piked the sods away from the slean was said to be “branching”. Not many people outside the bog areas would know that. I remember one time when my son Danjoe broke his ankle playing ball in the back yard. He was taken to the hospital in Tralee to have it set. When we eventually got in to see him he had a smile on his face so I asked him what he was smiling about and he told me that while he was waiting in a cubicle he could hear the conversation between an Asian doctor and a patient in the next cubicle. As is normal procedure the doctor asked the man what he was doing when he sustained the injury to his ankle. “Branching turf” was the reply. “What were you doing, running, jumping, falling” asked the doctor a bit testily. “I said I was branching turf, were you ever in the bog you fool” came the retort from the man from Lyreacrompane. No wonder Danjoe was amused. “Stripping sods” were cut off before the sleán could be used and the first sods at the top were referred to as “bár fhód”(top sod). This sod could be light and stringy and there wasn’t much heat out of it but it was great for starting the fire. Of course turf has to be “footed” and some people “re-foot” (pronounced ray foot).  It would be a great pity if all these terms were forgotten and I’m sure there are a lot more i haven’t mentioned. If you know any please send them on.

Even though the competition has bee cancelled for this year, Athea Tidy Towns are out making our village look better. Great credit is due to these volunteers who give of their time on our behalf. I’m sure they would not mind if a few more people from the village joined their ranks. If there weren’t volunteers we would have a very drab life with no sports clubs, drama groups, community development etc. many hands make light work and there is great satisfaction in seeing your work come to fruition.

We were talking the other day about jobs we hated doing when we were young. Some didn’t like going to the well for water or bringing in the turf. I have two that I hated doing and they both have to do with hens, referred to as chickens nowadays. We always had hens, as most households did because of the eggs they laid and the meat the produce when past their laying years. We knew all the hens by name and they all had their own peculiarities. They usually laid the eggs in the hen house but occasionally one of them might get awkward and find a secret hiding place for her eggs. During the holidays we enjoyed everyday which wasn’t half long enough for us. I might be ready to go fishing, swimming or playing football when my mother would tell me to watch a particular hen who was “laying out”.  This might seem an easy task but the hen was smart and would soon know you were observing her movements. It became a battle of wits as she tried to avoid you. She wouldn’t use the nest while yo were watching so this task could take all day. A covert operation had to be mounted where you blended into the background and observed from a distance. Eventually she would lay the egg and your task was completed, but the waiting around, wasting valuable time was awful. The other job I didn’t like was cleaning the hen house. The droppings mingled with the rushes on the floor creating a kind of dust that could be suffocating. It was also full of lice and the smell was unbearable. It was a great fertiliser for growing potatoes but that smell would stay up my nose for days. Simple but happy days.


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