The Good Friday Agreement of 1998 was a fundamental part of the Peace Process in Northern Ireland.
I simply cannot let a Good Friday go by without giving thanks to every single person who was involved in bringing that Agreement about.
There was a time when it seemed like the Island of Ireland would never see the level of peace that prevails today. It is something that we should never, ever take for granted and it is also something which should be viewed as a beacon of hope by those who are subsumed by pessimism about ongoing violence.
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.
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.
#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.
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.
#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 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.
THE BRIDGE BUILDER
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
I didn’t call this blog ‘Social Bridge’ for fun. However, I think I may have been too serious about the name way back then. I have to laugh now at the extent to which Google has shown me that people think the blog may relate to bridge, the card game, played more for fun and meeting partners than anything else!
Well, I’d like to have another go at explaining what Social Bridges mean to me and I would give anything to hear about the social bridges ~ either personal or public ~ that spring to your mind.
For me, Social Bridges are people, places, ideas, events that connect people to each other or that connect aspects of an individual’s own life.
From the very outset, the personified and public ‘Social Bridge’ that stood out for me was Senator George Mitchell who played such a role in bringing about peace in Northern Ireland. That peace means the world to me and thousands and thousands of other people.
I suppose it’s fair to say that I never stop thinking ‘social bridges’ in terms of my own life. There are just so many that have huge significance ~ poetry, tennis, daffodils, The Bridges of Ross in Co. Clare, and tiles, yes, tiles!
I was just about to wash the tiles on our kitchen floor when I found myself thinking of the tiles I saw just last weekend in historic St. Carthage’s Cathedral in Lismore here in Co. Waterford.
As I looked at the tiles in the Cathedral, I couldn’t but think of the visit I paid to my late father’s home in Kilrush, Co. Clare around this time last year.
I had long been hearing about the tiles in the house and as I sat there talking to the lovely woman who had bought the house from the family, I felt as if my feet were walking across a bridge of generations that spanned nine decades or far, far more.
Social Bridges are where people meet, be it in person, online or through the paths of time.
What, who are where are the Social Bridges that mean most to you?