An Abbeyfeale Man’s View of Brexit – and other Feale-side News

Article by Abbeyfeale man in The Irish Times following Brexit vote in UK

Marian Harnett with a round-up of what's happening in Abbeyfeale. ©Photograph: John Reidy
Marian Harnett with a round-up of what’s happening in Abbeyfeale. ©Photograph: John Reidy

Peter Moloney is a visiting professor at Boston College history department and a native of St. Ita’s Terrace, Abbeyfeale. The following is his letter to The Irish Times following Thursday’s vote in the UK.

“While the UK has chosen leave in the EU referendum, voters in Northern Ireland and Scotland bucked the overall trend and voted remain by a margin of 10 per cent greater than their English compatriots.

Ominously, such a stark divergence in opinion between the Celtic countries and England means we may have witnessed the first step in the disintegration of the UK as we have known it for over 400 years.

Heavily Subsidised

In contrast, in 1975, it was the English who actually voted for the EC by a margin of 10 per cent greater than the Scottish and Northern Irish, who rejected the authority of the London government to act on their behalf, resented yet another foreign government controlling their lives and rebelled at the prospect of heavily-subsidised foreign farmers undercutting domestic farmers.

Incredibly, that vote even registered the rare achievement of uniting most Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland against membership!

So, what has happened in the meantime to cause this dramatic Celtic transformation?

There are several factors.

First, in 1975, the Northern Irish and Scots saw the EC as a threat to British regional development aid. Back then, the EC had no regional development policy of note.

Deep Pockets

Fast forward to 2016 and the EU now runs a comprehensive regional development fund with deep pockets, investing billions of pounds around the entire island of Ireland and in the most deprived parts of Scotland.

Before 2020, Northern Ireland alone was due to get over twice the per capita EU regional development funding of England. Over the same period, Scottish and Irish farmers would have received three times and five times, respectively, the per capita compensation of their English counterparts from the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

Second, since the 1970s, both Scotland and Northern Ireland voters have fought for, and won, limited autonomy, devolution, and their own national parliaments within a more flexible UK structure. Consequently, today, they enjoy a more autonomous and equal relationship with London.

Devolution Process

Counter intuitively, the EU has actually facilitated this devolution process. Before British membership, devolution provoked fear of disintegration in London. However, within the EU, London recognised that both it and the regions were united within a common European project, making domestic devolution less risky.

Moreover, thanks to the EU’s deliberate engagement with regional political parties, both Scottish and Northern Irish parties actually gained political legitimacy and boosted their own local profile. This was an unforeseen positive consequence of membership.

Third, in Northern Ireland, where the Belfast Agreement of 1998 remains the guarantor of the still shaky co-operation between unionist and nationalist communities, shared EU membership of the UK and the Republic played a positive role.

Neutral Venue

As partners in Europe since 1973, the daily and routine contact between Irish and British representatives in a neutral venue helped build the kind of trust lacking for decades and allowed both countries to engage as equal partners.

Of course, the massive injection of EU peace-building money into Northern Ireland since 1995, approximately £1.3 billion to date, can only have helped too.

Fourth, the most successful Brexit argument, immigration control, failed to swing the Celtic voters. This is partly because the issue is not as provocative outside of England.

Historically, the Scots and Irish have been forced to seek work abroad themselves for so many generations that the word “immigrant” there provokes a much more empathetic response there than it does in England.

Finally, many of the Irish and the Scots voted for the Remain camp on Thursday because, unlike their English counterparts, the present Celtic generation has become fundamentally more comfortable with the notion of belonging to at least two distinguishable cultural or political identities.

Identity Mix

If you start from the position of willingly accepting that you can be both Scottish and British, then it is not as awkward to add a third tier, European, to this identity mix. Devolution has certainly helped this process. In contrast, English and British identities are often seen as one and the same in England, where the Scottish and Irish notes of the British symphony are often drowned out.

In Northern Ireland, the specific sectarian divide muddies this theory somewhat but dual identity still holds for many there. For the Catholic population, who would reject the British label, this dual identity includes affinity with Catholics in the Irish Republic, a fellow EU member, not to mention the traditional religious link with Rome as an accepted “foreign” authority structure.

Given these transformations in Scotland and Northern Ireland since the 1970s, it is hardly surprising that the Celtic cavalry overturned their 1975 voting deficit with the English on Thursday. However, their ultimate failure to prevent the UK from stumbling over the Brexit cliffs of Dover will make for an awkward and unstable future within the British union.”

Remembering Zoe on July 3rd

A Family Fun Day will take place on Sunday, July 3rd at Fr. Casey’s GAA Clubhouse, Abbeyfeale. Guaranteed fun with Underage Blitz’s, Dog Show, Bouncing Castles, Kiddie’s Disco, Face painting, Obstacle courses, Arts and Crafts and Novelty events.  These are just some of the activities laid on for all the family, like
any community event it relies on the support of the community to help make it a success so please show your support and come out and enjoy the day. 
Gates open 2pm.

Wacky Pink Day Huge Success

Scoil Naomh Pádraig, Knocknasna, held a “Wacky Pink Day” in aid of the Mid Western Cancer Foundation on Thursday,June 23 last. All pupils, parents and grandparents along with members of the local community were invited to attend. The day entailed a 5 km walk around the vicinity of the school escorted by local agricultural contractors “Kennellys” with some pink ice-cream and pink treats afterwards. Over €800 was raised and it will be going towards improving services for oncology patients in the University Hospital Limerick. Certificates were given to pupils, parents and Margaret Broderick (long serving grandparent of the school) for the wackiest outfits! Huge thanks to Twohig’s SuperValu, Eurosaver and O’Donoghue’s Spar for sponsoring all the ice-cream, goodies and decorations. Sincere thanks to everyone who donated so generously and a special word of thanks to Maria Woulfe for the leading the organisation of this successful event. A great day was had by all.

Abbeyfeale’s Singing Club

West Limerick singing club monthly singing session take place on the first Friday of every month in the Ramble Inn Bar, Abbeyfeale.The next session will take place on Friday July 1 at 9.30pm. All are welcome to come along and join in the singing, tell a story, or just listen to the performers.

Congratulations On Taking Pledge

Well done to the six young men who pledged to avoid drink and other addictive substances until they reached the age of 18 during St. Mary’s Boys N.S. end of year Mass last week.  They were Aodhán Cotter, Daniel Woulfe, Sam Quigley, Mark Roche, Liam Broderick and Shaun Dillon.


The inaugural Queen was selected at the Abbeyfeale Horse and Pony Races on June 19 at Relihan’s Inch and is Abbeyfeale’s Nadine Smith who was representing Annette’s Boutique. Nadine will now be an official entrant to next year’s Rose of Tralee.  Nadine is a student of dentistry with UCC and will shortly be travelling to Nepal with UCC’s Dental Outreach.

Viking Boxing Club

Training on Tuesday and Thursday nights in the old Flamingos with entrance next door to the back entrance of The Coffee Pot on Colbert Tce.  Contact Noel 087 4360339.  All age groups welcome.  We are hoping to hold our first annual Tournament at our base in Colberts Terrace on Sunday, July 24 and will have further details next week.

Craft Fair

The Farmers’ Market held each Friday in the Square hope to hold a craft fair in conjunction with the Market on Friday, July 15 next.  Anyone interested in taking a stall please contact the Market on 087 6866450.

Faith Camp

St Ita’s Catholic Camp for boys & girls aged between 5-12years takes place from Tuesday, August 2 – Friday, August 5 in St. Mary’s N.S. from 10am -3pm.  Cost €40 for first child & € 20 per additional child in family. Activities include Art, drama, Music, Sport, faith teaching. Tel Martina 087 27 88 834 Lorraine 086 37 65 751 for more information and registration form. One of the camp staff, Fr Patrick, will preach next Sunday, July 3. A retiring collection will be taken up for the Faith camp.

Recovery Haven Says Thanks

Recovery Haven – the Cancer support group in Tralee – wishes to acknowledge with gratitude the Wednesday’s Clubs fundraising afternoon tea dance on Sunday, June 12 which raised over €1000 for the house. Many thanks.

Sagart Pilgrimage To Lourdes

A five day pilgrimage to Lourdes will travel to Lourdes on September 22 and return on September 27.  Further information from Canon John O’Shea or Fr. Joe Foley.

Charity Cycle

PRO Maria Woulfe has been in touch with the news that Abbeyfeale Cycling Club are having their first charity cycle on Sunday, August 14 in aid of St Gabriel’s School in Limerick. There will be two routes, 60km and 110km taking in all the surrounding parishes. We are having a launch night on Friday, July 15 in Leen’s Hotel where Patrick O’ Donovan, Junior Minister for Sport will be present.

Remembering Zoe Relay Run To Dublin

Runners wanted for a once in lifetime experience.  The Remembering Zoë Relay run to Dublin for Make a Wish Foundation will take place over the August bank holiday weekend July 29 – July 31.

Day 1: Abbeyfeale – Castleisland – Killarney – Macroom – Cork City – Fermoy – 170km. Day 2: Fermoy – Mitchelstown – Cahir – Clonmel – Kilkenny – Carlow – 161km

Day 3: Carlow – Castledermot – Newbridge – Naas – Rathcoole – Leopards town – 120kmIf interested in taking part or helping in any way on Day1,2 ,3  or on the 3 days please let us know.

Abbeyfeale Summer Camp 2016

West Limerick Resources is running a Summer Camp for 6 to 12 year olds on July 11-14 in the Further Education and Training Campus Abbeyfeale (Old Tech).  The activities include sport and games, art & craft and a bus trip to Free Range Kids Outdoor Activities in Croom.  This camp is free to families in receipt of a social welfare payment.  Registration is essential.  Application forms are available at Reception in The Further Education and Training Centre and must be returned by Tuesday June 28.  For more information, or to check if you are eligible, please contact Mary at West

Tidy Towns Competition

The Tidy Towns Committee would like to inform everyone that the judging panel for the Tidy Towns Competition are expected to visit Abbeyfeale within the next few weeks and we ask that everyone do whatever they can to help brighten up the town through cleaning, painting and displaying of plants and flowers etc. Anything that would help the town be seen in a better light would be such a help.