Festival of Bridges #17 ~ Spanning Lives

This final contribution to The Festival of Bridges brings me back home to Waterford, courtesy of  Clare Scott, who blogs with such talent at The Mermaid’s Purse.

This is what Clare sent:

I was racking my brain for bridges but out of thousands of photos none stood out ….. Then yesterday I was asked to drive some of my fellow art students out to the Red Iron Bridge on the Suir in Co. Waterford. The Red Iron Bridge is north of the City of Waterford and just south of the new bridge which takes traffic around the city. The bridge has been closed for years now, the tracks rotten and rusted.

The Red Iron Bridge, Waterford City, Ireland Photo: Clare Scott
 It is a bridge that has drawn the young people of Waterford (not a few art students among them) for more than a few generations and its position near the city but spanning the river at an unbuilt-up spot probably makes it one of the few ‘wilderness’ spots familiar to otherwise urban youth.
To get there you take a tiny, muddy path up from a narrow road, near where the old railway track crossed it on a small ivy covered bridge. A couple of minutes of twisting through bushes and trees and past low grey walls tagged with graffiti brings you onto the tracks. You are immediately aware of the swirling brown water below and the places where the tracks are rusty. It makes me very nervous. 
The last time I was here, ten years ago, I climbed out over the railings to by pass the fence blocking the track to make my way to sit atop one of the pillars legs dangling and nerves slightly jangled. This time I left the stunts to the the younger people. 
This bridge along with the city bridge is iconic to Waterford people I think for the river in Waterford has taken more more than a few lives, some accidental, many not, and more than one soul has ended up at the feet of the Red Iron.
Looking at these photos it makes me smile that no matter where  you photograph young people it always seems to look like an album cover.
The Red Iron Bridge, Waterford City, Ireland
The Red Iron Bridge, Waterford City, Ireland Photo: Clare Scott

I would like to thank all those who have taken part in The Festival of Bridges over the last two weeks or so. I truly appreciate your contributions and the time and effort which you devoted to them. 

Festival of Bridges #15 ~ Irish-American Connections

The connections between Ireland and America are immense and I can’t but think of them when bringing you Rod Figaro’s contribution to The Festival of Bridges.

Rod is a professional photographer, based in New York, and you can find his excellent website here. Bridges feature a lot in Rod’s work and when I asked him about this he said:

As for my fascination for bridges, particularly the ones in New York, their sheer sizes alone can easily capture your attention, and one can never get used to that.

Here is the magnificent photograph that he sent me:

Brooklyn Bridge, New York
Brooklyn Bridge, New York

For years, as I’ve stood on the Promenade here in Tramore, I’ve felt that Brooklyn Bridge and America were what were glittering on the horizon at the other side of the Atlantic Ocean.  By sheer coincidence, we now have a bustling beachfront restaurant on the Prom, called Brooklyn, with the bridge logo!

Brooklyn Cafe, Tramore, Co. Waterford.

It would be impossible for me to leave Rod Figaro’s photograph of Brooklyn Bridge without highlighting the extent to which it is a bridge with a huge connection to poetry.  Here are a few lines from the great Walt Whitman poem “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry” which celebrates the exact spot where Brooklyn Bridge, which was completed in 1883, now stands.

The current rushing so swiftly, and swimming with me far away;
The others that are to follow me, the ties between me and them;
The certainty of others–the life, love, sight, hearing of others.

Others will enter the gates of the ferry, and cross from shore to shore;
Others will watch the run of the flood-tide;
Others will see the shipping of Manhattan north and west, and the
heights of Brooklyn to the south and east;
Others will see the islands large and small;
Fifty years hence, others will see them as they cross, the sun half an
hour high;
A hundred years hence, or ever so many hundred years hence, others
will see them,
Will enjoy the sunset, the pouring in of the flood-tide, the falling
back to the sea of the ebb-tide.

I sincerely hope that one day I will finally get to see Brooklyn Bridge with my very own eyes and meet Rod Figaro there to go on the photo-shoot he has so kindly promised.


The Festival of Bridges runs until October 31st. Submissions are now closed. 





Festival of Bridges #14 ~ Crossing Point

The Festival of Bridges moves back to Ireland this morning with a glorious contribution from Ed Mooney whose blog I discovered a few months back.

Ed, more than any other blogger I am aware of, is absolutely passionate about ancient structures and ruins of Ireland, especially castles, and I feel that his work is playing a huge role in keeping the history and magic of these wonderful places alive.

He sent me a photograph of a bridge at Leighlinbridge in Co. Carlow, little knowing that lovely Leighlinbridge has been the ‘midway’ stopping point in our family for years and years as we journeyed to and from Dublin. His hauntingly beautiful photograph brought me back to all the phone calls, in happy, sad, and ordinary times,  made from Leighlinbridge that raised the collective spirit of the family as they were about ‘coming home.’

Leighlanbridge_Carlow (1)
Leighlinbridge, Co. Carlow.

Here’s what Ed wrote about the photogrpagh:

I shot this a number of months ago down in Leighlinbridge. Initially my eye had been drawn to the Castle as I just love these old ruins. Sadly I was unable to gain access as it is on private property. So I went looking for images that I could get. After moving across the Barrow I knew I had to include the bridge and Castle in a shot as one would not have existed without the other.

The bridge was an important crossing point and a castle has stood here since 1181 to protect it. The current nine arch Valerian bridge was built in 1320 by Maurice Jakis, a Canon of Kildare Cathedral.


The Festival of Bridges runs until October 31st. Submissions are now closed. 

Festival of Bridges #13 ~ A Bridge Like No Other

I’ve been an avid follower of John Grant’s blog Meticulous Mick since it started a few years back. I love his photography and his way with words.

Here’s the stunning photograph and the deeply touching words that accompanied it:

Bridge_Challenge-1 (1)
The Butter Bridge

This bridge can be found in the pass of Rest and be Thankful, Argyllshire, Scotland and is known simply as the “Butter Bridge”. Completed in the mid 18th century as part of the old military road linking Dumbarton to Inveraray, it was heavily used as a drover’s route to bring cattle to the markets of the south.  The new road (A83) now crosses the river a little higher up, leaving the old single span bridge in peace. 

The bridge is set in stunning, wild countryside and with the gurgling river, whistling of the wind and bleat of the sheep, it is easy to just sit here and step back in time.  It is a bridge where one cannot simply pass, a stop is required. Time to reflect, time to rest and time to be thankful. 

For me this bridge holds something deep and personal too; this was the bridge we stopped off at the first time we sought out the place where my father’s grave lies. Around eighteen months later we would return, on our way to the Isle of Mull for a holiday with my sisters and their families. This trip allowed us to witness the elegant granite headstone now in place.

Fast forward another twelve months and we found ourselves at the Butter Bridge once more, on our way to a wedding. A very important wedding; our own.

Of course we have been back since, it is after all a bridge like no other for me.   


Festival of Bridges #12 ~ A Jersey Tale

The Festival of Bridges brings us to Jersey today, courtesy of Roy McCarthy whose blog Back on the Rock is a real favourite of mine.

Roy has a myriad of interests and is a writer. One of his books is the wonderfully named: A Jersey Midsummer Tale. 

Here’s what Roy sent, and as a person who both honeymooned in Jersey and holidayed there for ten years, I feel like I’ve been transported back to a place I absolutely adore.

The Jersey Eastern Railway opened for business in 1874 but closed in 1929. Here is a secluded little bridge, unknown to many, behind St Clement Parish Hall just before the former Le Hocq Station.

Photo: Roy McCarthy
It’s an easy leap of the imagination to imagine local people walking underneath the bridge 100 years and more ago as the train chugged on its way out towards Gorey.

  An extract from ‘A Jersey Midsummer Tale’.

They picked up speed as they skirted to the south of the sports fields and headed out into the St Clement countryside. At Samares two passengers alighted and two more at Pontorson Lane. The train was clattering along merrily now, along the embankment and through the Le Hocq Lane crossing, up through the cutting, under the coast road bridge before rattling down into Pontac Station.
The Festival of Bridges runs until October 31st. Submissions are now closed unless you have a bridge that you feel you simply HAVE to share. If so, send it on to me at jeatubridy@aol.com. I can never get enough bridges!!






Festival of Bridges #11 ~ Crossing

We have just moved into Winter Time here in Ireland and it feels like we have crossed  from light into darkness.

It’s at times like this that I find myself turning to poetry as it never fails to serve as a bridge to help me get from one mindset to another.

Red leaves
The Forest of Words

The poem that brought great solace today as the rain poured and the sun seemed to have turned his face away forever was this one:

from What the Light Teaches

Language is the house with lamplight in its windows,
visible across fields. Approaching, you can hear
music; closer, smell
soup, bay leaves, bread – a meal for anyone
who has only his tongue left.
It’s a country; home; family
abandoned; burned down; whole lines dead, unmarried.
For those who can’t read their way in the streets,
or in the gestures and faces of strangers,
language is the house to run to;
in wild nights, chased by dogs and other sounds,
when you’ve been lost a long time,
when you have no other place.
There are nights in the forest of words
when I panic, every step into the thicker darkness,
the only way out to write myself into a clearing,
which is silence.
Nights in the forest of words
when I’m afraid we won’t hear each other
over clattering branches, over 
both our voices calling.
In winter, in the hour
when the sun runs liquid then freezes,
caught in the mantilla of empty trees;
when my heart listens
through the stethoscope of fear,
your voice in my head reminds me
what the light teaches.
Slowly you translate fear into love,
the way the moon’s blood is the sea. 
Anne Michaels 
(Source: Staying Alive, 2002, edited by Neil Astley, Bloodaxe Books)

Festival of Bridges #10 ~ Sir Thomas

I was delighted to receive a contribution to The Festival of Bridges from Jamie Ryan, a Clonmel-based photographer whose website is here.

This is the photograph that Jamie sent:

Sir Thomas's Bridge, Ferryhouse, Clonmel, Co. Tipperary. Photo: Jamie Ryan
Sir Thomas’s Bridge, Ferryhouse, Clonmel, Co. Tipperary.
Photo: Jamie Ryan

Jamie describes Sir Thomas’s Bridge as:

My favourite bridge in town. Beautiful walkway in that area and you are always guaranteed peace and quiet. 

Sir Thomas’s Bridge has a long history. It is one of the oldest bridges over the River Suir, having been erected in 1690 by Sir Thomas Osborne to connect his estates on either side of the river.

Clonmel was ‘home’ to me for almost a decade from 1976-1985. Sir Thomas’s Bridge was the mid- point of many a walk or jog and I spent hours standing on the bridge watching the River Suir make its way towards Waterford City. Back then, I never imagined that I would end up marrying a man from Clonmel and that we would move down-river to Waterford and onwards to Tramore.

I just wonder, as I write this, how many people have stood on Sir Thomas’s Bridge since 1690 ( the year of the famous Battle of the Boyne) at key points in their lives ~ knowing what’s gone before but never for a moment foreseeing what it to come.


The Festival of Bridges runs until October 31st. If you would like to take part, please email your contribution to me at: jeantubridy@aol.com.




Festival of Bridges #9 ~ Someone’s Dad

I like to think that I’m not all that shockable but today’s contributor to The Festival of Bridges caught me off guard not just once but twice.

The contributor in question is Catherine Drea, who lives just a few miles from me here in Co. Waterford. She has just won the Photography Section in The Irish Blog Awards for the second year in a row with her delightfully creative and colourful blog, Foxglove Lane. Be sure to check it out as you are in for a huge treat.

I had been expecting a photograph from Ireland and more than likely somewhere in Co. Waterford but Catherine brings us to the other end of the earth, Australia, while highlighting its deep connections to Ireland. I was also stunned with the way in which the photograph she chose from her vast collection connected so completely with my interest in ageing and elderly parents. Here’s what she wrote:

My youngest lives in Sydney and I often wondered what the attraction was for our young people to head down under. Last year I finally made the trek and was bowled over by Sydney in particular. It is a stunning harbour dominated by the bridge on one side and the Opera House on the other. The situation is mesmerising.

I picked this photo for you Jean as it is called Someone’s Dad……This man caught my eye as like you I have a great affinity with older people and their stillness. The bridge constructed by the Irish and other immigrants who came here is a beautiful testament to their labour and now I know, Australia is awesome!!

Someone's Dad Photo: Catherine Drea
Someone’s Dad
Photo: Catherine Drea


The Festival of Bridges runs until October 31st. If you would like to take part, please email your submission to me at jeantubridy@aol.com. I look forward to hearing from you.

Cork, My City by the Lee

I would like to thank Joan Frankham for submitting this post to my Festival of Bridges. It relates to the beautiful city of Cork here in Ireland which is blessed with many, many bridges.

Retirement and beyond

I went for a stroll around Cork City today, and managed to get quite a few nice shots of the old buildings, the many churches, the hills on which the city is built, all looking down on the River Lee.   For those of you not familiar with Cork, the river Lee splits in two at the western end of the city, and flows in two channels, before meeting up again when it flows in to Cork Harbour.  These two channels form an island, and the city centre is on this island.   It can be very confusing for first time visitors to the city who do not realise there are two branches of the river, and making arrangements to ‘meet by the river’ doesn’t always work out!   By the way, there are over 30 bridges over the river (s) Lee around the city, and it takes about two…

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Festival of Bridges #7 ~ Bridges and Sighs

There are all sorts of bridges that make me sigh and I want to thank David Millington-Croft from the magnificent There is No Cavalry for mentioning the Bridge of Sighs in a comment at the start of this Festival of Bridges. 

Bridge of Sighs, Venice. www.artween.com
Bridge of Sighs, Venice.

I’ve spent most of the day thinking about bridges that make me sigh and also pondering on the word sigh. I’m taking it in a positive sense here ~ to mean bridges in a range of contexts that have touched my soul.  Here are my top five out of possible thousands!

#1 Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco ~ a bridge that won my heart in 1983 and is still carved there, especially when I see the sun rising.

Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco www.patricksmithphotgtraphy.com
Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco

 #2 Claude Monet’s painting of The Bridge at Argenteuil.  I associate this  very much with my late father and I was fortunate enough to see it in the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC in November 2010, just eight weeks after father’s death.

The Bridge at Argenteuil www.cmonetgallery.com
The Bridge at Argenteuil

3# Senator George Mitchell who played such a key role  in negotiating the Peace Process in Northern Ireland. Having lived through the years of the Troubles in Northern Ireland which claimed the lives of over 3,000 people, I am eternally grateful that those terrible, terrible years are behind us.

Senator George Mitchell www.wesa.fm
Senator George Mitchell

#4 Jack B. Yeats’ painting  ‘The Liffey Swim.’  This painting has huge significance for me as it hangs in The National Gallery of Ireland, a place which I visited very, very regularly throughout the 15+ years I lived in Dublin.  When I was leaving Dublin I bought a copy of the painting which lives in my study here in Tramore. The bridge in the painting is Butt Bridge which I crossed regularly, especially during my junior tennis days when I was catching the train to and from Drogheda which was home then.

The Liffey Swim by Jack.B.Yeats www.nationalgallery.ie
The Liffey Swim
by Jack.B.Yeats

# ‘The Bridge Builder’ by Will Allen Drumgoole.  This poem reminds me of the many, many older people who have built bridges for me over the years. I would like to think that I thanked them sufficiently for their kindness but I know full well that I didn’t.


An old man going a lone highway,
Came, at the evening cold and gray,
To a chasm vast and deep and wide.
Through which was flowing a sullen tide
The old man crossed in the twilight dim,
The sullen stream had no fear for him;
But he turned when safe on the other side
And built a bridge to span the tide.


“Old man,” said a fellow pilgrim near,
“You are wasting your strength with building here;
Your journey will end with the ending day,
You never again will pass this way;
You’ve crossed the chasm, deep and wide,
Why build this bridge at evening tide?”


The builder lifted his old gray head;
“Good friend, in the path I have come,” he said,
“There followed after me to-day
A youth whose feet must pass this way.
This chasm that has been as naught to me
To that fair-haired youth may a pitfall be;
He, too, must cross in the twilight dim;
Good friend, I am building this bridge for him!”


 Will Allen Drumgoole



The Festival of Bridges continues until October 31 and I would love to hear about bridges that make YOU sigh. Please email me with your words, images, music at jeantubridy@aol.com.