America on my Mind

Today has been a  day when I’ve felt like I have one foot in Ireland and the other in America. I feel a bit like that everyday as over half the visitors to Social Bridge are from the United States and  my email, which is deliberately set with AOL, brings me all the latest US news, temperatures …..

While I don’t have American friends here in Ireland, I am very close to a number of people in America and, of course, Ireland is a country which has so many connections with America over history and many, many Irish people have emigrated to the States over the generations with lots of American companies setting up here in Ireland.

I must say, though, I was a little surprised to be greeted by  July 4th window art down at our local SuperValu supermarket here in Tramore this morning. It really added to the sense of connection between our two countries.

It’s always hard for Irish people to estimate how much American people think about Ireland but there is no doubt whatever that Irish people are very tuned in to America across all spheres of life.

Today, I was thinking a lot about the many, many people who emigrated to America, especially to Butte, Montana, from Co. Waterford when the Copper Mines went into decline here in the late 19th century.

Old Mining Works at Tankardstown, Copper Coast, Co. Waterford
Old Mining Works at Tankardstown, Copper Coast, Co. Waterford

I looked across the Atlantic Ocean this evening and felt like American hands were reaching out to touch mine.

Garrarus Beach, Co. Waterford
Garrarus Beach, Co. Waterford

I also feel eternally grateful for the great literature, poetry, music and film that America has brought to my world.  It’s been a long journey of immersion and this song from Kris Kristofferson was one which captured my imagination as a young teenager. I listened to it over and over and over ….. longing to be travelling across America:

And, of course, there have been so many great sporting heroes from America who have touched my soul, especially wonderful tennis stars like Billie Jean King, John McEnroe, Pete Sampras and the amazing Venus and Serena Williams ….

Serena Williams of the U.S. confers with her sister, Venus Williams (L), in the women's doubles tennis gold medal match against Czech Republic's Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka at the London Olympic Games, August 5, 2012.   REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth (BRITAIN  - Tags: OLYMPICS SPORT TENNIS)
Venus and Serena Williams

It’s still July 4th in America as I write this post and I wish you all a very, very happy day and thank you for being so inspirational, open and warm-hearted:

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

ee cummings

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 #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.