Athleague and the Fleadh

I hope to attend the Roscommon County Fleadh in Athleague on Easter Monday. I remember being at the last one which I enjoyed. I also remember my friend Austin Galvin and me trying to listen to a set of tunes and a fellow nearly chewing the ear off Austin during it. It was only when the set ended that he finished his animated talk with: ‘That was great music wasn’t it?’ To which Austin replied: ‘It was I suppose and I’d like to have heard it’.   I have a particular affection for Athleague and its people. The names are nearly all still there: Keanes, Connaughtons, Waldrons, Cormicans, Finnerans, Snypes, McConns and Haugheys to mention but a few. Perhaps it is the fact that my father had such connections with the village, playing hurling there, as we all did later, and attending those September lamb and sheep fairs.    I watched the hurlers practise in a field that looked expansive at the back of the Church only to see it later as a very small patch indeed. I was confirmed there as part of the rotation with Creemully Church at the time. My earliest memory is of a ‘point to point’ perhaps out the Scardane road and Tom Pat Heaney, my Castlecoote neighbour, having a horse running with Johnny Rowan as jockey. It was a time when Canon ‘Barney’ Keane was the Parish Priest and had a passion for horses also. His man then, I believe, was Noel C. Duggan who went on to establish the big equestrian centre at Millstreet in Cork.    In later years I took the wet battery to Synpe’s to get charged and attended plays and concerts in Tiernan Hall and remember a gentleman singing with passion, at nearly every concert, ‘Mary Ann Regrets..’ Later still it was the Carnival marquee adjacent to the Hall. In the early seventies I spent a couple of good weeks with Gerry Galvin ‘plumbing’ Mrs. Keane’s bar and premises. Mrs. Keane is remembered with great affection by generations who frequented that fine establishment. We worked reasonably hard there, ate the best, swam in the mill weir, played darts, and drank a little as well, during that pleasant sojourn.    So when I return to Athleague, for the Fleadh, I’ll be going home and recalling happy days and memories among people I know well and respect highly. – Tony Conboy