Today is the International Day of Older Persons and somehow it seems right that it coincides with the beginning of October.

I’m one of those fortunate people whose parents lived to great ages, eighty-eight and ninety-one respectively and today I feel a real sense of gratitude for having had such wise people by my side for so long.

Mother absolutely loved the writings of Doris Lessing and I think this quote from her about ageing sums up Mother’s views exactly:

The great secret that all old people share is that you really haven’t changed in seventy or eighty years. Your body changes, but you don’t change at all. And that, of course, causes great confusion.
(Doris Lessing)


As I went for my first swim of October today, I could feel Mother, with her lovely burnished gold hair, urging me one. She was a non-conformist, a rebel in many ways and was just as much of a water baby as I am. She never, ever changed and I hope that I can be just like her in that.

Burnished Gold at Garrarus Beach, Co. Waterford

Burnished Gold at Garrarus Beach, Co. Waterford

And, as for Father, well, this is the quote that  sums up so much about his whole approach to life:

You know what ages a man -boredom. 
(Macello Rubini, La Dolce Vita)


Boredom was a word that Father prohibited all his life. He felt that there was so much to learn and appreciate in life that boredom just didn’t have a place.

Today, I thought a lot about his love of photography and nature and felt him smiling as I sought to capture the waves of pampas grass that he helped me plant in our garden in 1995.

Pampas Grass

One of Mother and Father’s greatest legacies is that they taught me that ageing is something to be embraced and not feared and that older people should never, ever be categorised but seen as their own unique selves.


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Blog Names


Newtown Wood, Tramore, Co. Waterford

I’m absolutely fascinated by the names of blogs must confess that I can’t resist having a look at those that tickle my imagination.

I spent forever coming up with the name Social Bridge as I wanted to be just that: a connector, a linker. To tell the truth, I thought the concept of social bridge would take off like wild fire and get the whole world thinking along the same lines as me about people, places, events that have been, and continue to be, bridges in both public and personal life.

(The latest social bridge I was talking to was the ‘lolly pop lady’ who guides the small school kids across the road just round the corner from us. She always has a big smile and told me the other day that she reckons she gets more hugs than anyone else in Tramore. I stood there and witnessed quite a few and suspect she is probably right.)

Even though I’ve been disappointed, I still love the idea of social bridges and cling to the hope that its power as a concept will catch on and change the world.

The  Viaduct, Drogheda, Co. Louth

The Viaduct, Drogheda, Co. Louth Photo: Frank Tubridy

Today, September 30th, feels like a social bridge to me as we cross into October. September 2014 will never be here again; we had our chances with it and our experiences of it.

Crossing into October, I look forward to Autumn tints, chestnuts, lighting the fire, my birthday, seizing as many opportunities as I can to swim in the sea, planting bulbs that will present the first signs of Spring and identifying,  seeing, hearing about and  meeting all kinds of social bridges along the way.

So here’s to social bridges and their potential as we step into a new month and a whole new season!

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Sunset at Hook Head, Co. Wexford

Sunset at Hook Head, Co. Wexford

sunsets and dying
natural and bittersweet
some days end early


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How Much Time Do You Spend in Blogland?


I’m getting curiouser and and curiouser about people’s blogging habits and I have to say that I learned a huge amount from my last foray into this territory which related to Following. So, I’d be delighted if you would be sweet and kind enough to share your experiences about the amount of time that you spend in blogland.

Here are the key questions that interest me:

1. How much time do you spend in blogland in an average week? 

2. How much time did you spend in blogland last week?

2. How does that time divide in % terms re:

a. Writing Posts

b. Reading Posts

c. Interacting through comments

d. Working on your Site’s Appearance

e. Other/Please Specify!

3. Do you allocate specific time slots in your day/week for Blogging? 

I pilotted this little questionnaire on myself and reckon that I spend about 16-18 hours in an average week on blogging. Last week was a pretty typical week in blogging terms.

It looks like I spend about 40% of the time writing posts; 30% reading other blogs; 19% interacting through comments; 1% at other stuff, like investigating widgets!!!

I don’t have a very fixed routine for blogging activities but tend to deal with most email alerts re blogs early in the morning. Having said that, if I see that a blog is long and will require serious thought re comment, I put it aside for another time and refuse to delete it from my inbox until I’ve dealt with it.

Very much looking forward to your responses. (By the way, I didn’t use the Poll option as it didn’t seem to accommodate what I wanted to ask in the way I wanted to ask it!)





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Mothers and Fingers

I really came to see a myriad of connections between mothers and fingers this week when I managed to get a nasty abscess on the index finger of my right hand. I’ve been feeling absolutely lousy with it as the infectious ooze took hold and started to eat into my whole system.

Mother and Me

Mother and Me

The feverishness and pain, especially in the quiet of the night, made me long for my mother’s soothing voice, soft smile, quiet reciting of my favourite poems, loving touch, soft sponging of my brow as well as her urgings to at least try the bread ‘soldiers’ and beef tea that were her ‘invalid’ specials.

Motherhood and fingers are totally connected. That haunting moment when I first counted son Harry’s baby fingers and checked and double checked that there were ten ~ five on each hand. The wonderment at how they could be so, so tiny and so perfectly formed. His whole soft hand gripping just one of my fingers for comfort or to grab my attention.


Fingers Entwined

Even though I have yearned for Mother’s tenderness this week as I’ve fully grasped the role of the index finger in practically every activity of daily life, apart from my typing, I was glad that she didn’t have to endure the initial worry that the infection could get totally out of control.

There seems to come a time when you just have to grow up and spare the person who arguably loves you more unconditionally than anyone else ever can.

The week has also made me realise more forcefully than ever that the tiny baby fingers that I once held are now a strong man’s fingers.

But, as I think about that, I also recall Mother’s emphasis on how wounded soldiers in war want to feel their mother’s hands more than anyone else’s.


Posted in Connections, Losing Elderly Parents | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 25 Comments

Sporting Passion, Jersey, and the Ryder Cup

It would have been impossible for me to marry someone who didn’t have deep interest in sport. I just couldn’t cope with questions like: What on earth is a topspin lobor What the hell has an eagle got to to do with golf?

Well, I’m glad to report that I found ‘love’ on a tennis court and the guy who courted me and whom I eventually married was a keen sportsman who played about 6 sports at representative level and continues to have an absolute passion for sport in general.

Our honeymoon  on the lovely island of Jersey coincided with the Ryder Cup in 1991. When we arrived at the hotel, hubby  made a mad lunge at the television to be sure that it had all the stations necessary to see every shot of the competition.

Jersey was stunning, with its beaches, coastal paths, seafood restaurants on tiny harbours,  The Lavendar Farm, La Mare Vineyard, Jersey Pottery and, of course, nearby Sark Island with its feudal regime.

The Ryder Cup was played in Kiawah Island, South Carolina that year and really it was like we became bi-located once it got underway on the Friday.

Watching the Preview of this year’s competition with hubby last night, I got a tingle of excitement and a real sense of deja vu when when he said of Ian Poulter: Here’s your man!  My man in 1991 was undoubtedly Seve Ballesteros, who I had been fortunate enough to see in the flesh here in Ireland and who is without doubt the most handsome man I have ever laid eyes on. And what an inspirational golfer, not unlike Ian Poulter!

The 1991 Ryder Cup was unbearably close and we travelled home on the Sunday as the latter stages were unfolding. My parents had invited us for tea but weren’t in the least surprised when hubby shot passed them to catch the last few holes in which Europe were just pipped.

I can imagine that this could well be some people’s idea of absolute hell but somehow the Ryder Cup gives me a biennial reminder of the extent to which our marriage is built on a shared love of sport of all descriptions.

It’s all in the genes, as we both come from sporting families, and I could only smile when our son told me the other day of how he was shocked and horrified to be asked by someone: How many games are in a tennis match?

So, best of luck to the smiling Paul McGinley and his fabulous European team.  We’ll be watching!




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The National Ploughing Championships are underway in Ireland at the moment and it’s like the country has been taken over by ploughing fever.

In the midst of this, I’ve been thinking about people who have the courage to plough lonely furrows in the pursuit of a vision, very often at huge cost to themselves but ultimately for the betterment of society. How often do we look back and see how a now ‘famous’ person died in destitution, never to see the fruits of  his/her labours recognised and accepted as ‘genius?’

Horse Drawn Plough c.1900 Source:

Horse Drawn Plough c.1900

And, of course, the mere mention of ploughing always makes me think of this most evocative poem written by the great Seamus Heaney:


My father worked with a horse-plough,
His shoulders globed like a full sail strung
Between the shafts and the furrow.
The horse strained at his clicking tongue.

An expert. He would set the wing
And fit the bright steel-pointed sock.
The sod rolled over without breaking.
At the headrig, with a single pluck

Of reins, the sweating team turned round
And back into the land. His eye
Narrowed and angled at the ground,
Mapping the furrow exactly.

I stumbled in his hob-nailed wake,
Fell sometimes on the polished sod;
Sometimes he rode me on his back
Dipping and rising to his plod.

I wanted to grow up and plough,
To close one eye, stiffen my arm.
All I ever did was follow
In his broad shadow round the farm.

I was a nuisance, tripping, falling,
Yapping always. But today
It is my father who keeps stumbling
Behind me, and will not go away.

(Seamus Heaney)



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