The ‘New Normal’ and Me

Tramore Beach, Co. Waterford
Tramore Beach, Co. Waterford, November 1, 2014

Happy November All and thanks to everyone who took part, in whatever way,  in The Festival of Bridges which took over Social Bridge for the last few weeks. It was a great experience and I’ve come to meet all sorts of new people through it, which is brilliant.

Today has been like an interlude between finishing a book that you’ve loved and looking at the pile of books that are waiting to be read and which hold promise.

The day started very early indeed as the dogs were restless with the Halloween fireworks and the like. As a result I ended up being up before dawn and got to see the sunrise.

While out walking, I was thinking about the concept of the new normal which is so dominant these days. It tends to be used a lot in the context of grief and how we have to come to terms with ‘the new normal’ but it is also used in relation to lots of aspects of life.

It’s a notion that has long grated with me and I wasn’t able to put my finger precisely on why until today.

Basically, I think that the notion of  normal is very much a social construct that we build to give ourselves a sense of security. But really, our lives are changing all the time in a whole host of ways.

Trying to come to terms with a ‘new normal’ seems to me to be as futile as puppy Stan chasing birds on the beach. He runs and runs and they soar up into the sky and leave him looking stunned and frustrated every time. Sometimes, he even loses sight of what he’s doing and races into the sea after a gull that takes off over the ocean as soon it it spots him on the rampage.

Lessons of Life!
Lessons of Life!

Why not think of life as ever-changing moments which are there for us to experience, learn from, endure, enjoy?

There sun will never rise  on November 1, 2014 again. It was a magical time here on the coast of Co. Waterford ~ an energetic awakening to the importance of seizing the moment.

Garrarus Beach, Co. Waterford on November 1, 2014.
Garrarus Beach, Co. Waterford on November 1, 2014.

What’s your feel about the  concept of the new normalespecially in the context of  coping with grief?


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:

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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 #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:




Festival of Bridges #6 ~ Slave of the Bridge

This powerful contribution to The Festival of Bridges comes from Willow, whose enthralling blog can be found here.

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Every night  she crosses the bridge betwix life  and death.

Carrying the  tormented souls that are of  hope bereft.

Her  shadow like its owner  empty and lost gently follows.

She looks  for life and love for she has none, her heart and soul are nothing  but hollow.


The moon looks on and gently weeps as she, her lonely vigil keeps.

Misery  and desperation are tangible in the air.

Colours  she craves colours, rest she craves rest and the warm of another  body

She craves colour and warmth and  above all sleep, this is  her life not her hobby.


Demon hands reach through the slats of the bridge searching for souls, they do not want  hers it is long gone!

They scratch at  her heels  they pull at  her ankles they hurt her but worse they hold her  back and drag her down so she never sees the sun!

Pour lost  soul there is no hope left  for her, nightly  she stumbles on alone tortured and held  by invisible rope.

Pray  for her, plead  for her as she in torment wails, she is condemned to this for eternity, no chance of escape for her, no hope.


The Festival of Bridges runs until October 31st and I would be delighted to receive a contribution from you. Simply email me on I look forward to hearing from you. 













Festival of Bridges #4 ~ Rooms with a View

Today’s heartfelt contribution to The Festival of Bridges comes from Joanne, who writes most eloquently about the way in which bridges have been a significant thread weaving through her life, which has strong Irish-American connections.   She has just bought a new apartment and her email starts with the role of a bridge in that regard:

What sold me on the place I’ve bought is the view.  I’ll have this unencumbered view of the Verrazano Narrows Bridge from my living room and bedroom windows of my new apartment, beginning next week.  And the Verrazano, which connects Brooklyn to Staten Island, will be celebrating its 50th birthday next month.

Living Room View
Living Room View

Funny, over the years, I’ve collected some artwork, mostly landscapes, and without deliberately setting out to do so, I’ve ended up with about six or seven paintings and prints of bridges, some famous and some not.

I have a print that my parents bought when they first married  here in New York City in 1934. It shows a stone bridge over a stream and a tiny cottage beyond. My mother told me they bought it because it reminded them of Ireland and they were both so homesick for Co. Kerry.

When I was very small, I used to gaze at this print and make up stories for my dolls about it – what was on the other side of the bridge, who we might meet, who lived in the cottage, where the rowboat would take us, etc.

A subconscious theme that has followed me throughout my life: What will happen if I cross that bridge?

Many thanks, Joanne, for a beautiful bridge-related insight into past and present and may you have happy, happy days in your new abode.

The Festival of Bridges runs until October 31st and I would be delighted if you would send YOUR contribution from wherever you are in the world. What’s your take on ‘bridges’ and which ones are significant in your life? 

Simply email me with words, images, music ….. to I look forward to hearing from you. 

Festival of Bridges #3 ~ Mystical

Andrea Stephenson’s blog Harvesting Hecate is one of my new finds of this year and it is a haven of peace, creativity and the most lyrical writing you can imagine.

Here is Andrea’s quirky and thought-provoking contribution to The Festival of Bridges. 

I see bridges as quite mystical, a kind of border from one world to another, with their own elemental guardians.  So, I was quite amused to see that this very small wooden bridge in one of our local parks, had its own set of sentries, guarding the way…


The Festival of Bridges runs until October 31st and I’d be delighted to feature your ‘take’ on bridges of any kind ~ be it through words, photographs, art, poetry …..

Simply email me at with your contribution/s. 

Festival of Bridges #2 ~ Heart-Heart

Today’s contribution to The Festival of Bridges brought me to a complete standstill and brought tears streaming down my face. It comes from Joan, who has the blog Earthabridge. Joan is the woman who wrote the post that I identified as the highlight of my blogging career a few months back.

Here is the email Joan sent in relation to The Festival of Bridges:

Ingram Bridge
Ingram Bridge

This is Ingram Bridge on #3 Highway, the Crowsnest, where it crosses the Kettle River between Rock Creek and Midway, British Columbia, about a kilometre north of the international boundary.

After my mother died in 1993, I fell apart. I abandoned my job and my home and moved here, to a little blue trailer just on the other side of the bridge, behind the snag.

I made business cards titled ‘At Ingram Bridge,’ set up my computer, and began to write.

The trailer was on a corner of the ranch where my mother had grown up, near the ranch house where her brother still lived. I went there to heal, in an obvious but unconscious attempt to be near her still. I learned several years later that it is also the spot where my brother had taken her ashes, to send her home.

Many, many thanks, Joan, for sharing this very special bridge with us. I suspect it will touch many, many hearts.