From San Francisco to Waterford

Back in 1983, I was fortunate enough to spend three months in San Francisco as a Graduate student at the University of California in S.F. While there was plenty of study, I managed to find lots of time to visit Golden Gate Park which was close to where I was staying and at the weekends I used to walk down to the Bay and treat myself to coffee and cake at The Cliff House.  Believe it or not, I didn’t take one photograph while I was over there.

Years on, I was browsing in Jackson’s antique shop in Waterford and happened upon two postcards in a box on the counter. They whisked me back to those surreal months and the places I had fallen for: Golden Gate Park


and, yes, The Cliff House:


I’ve had the postcards stashed away for ages now but questions about their history have played around in my subconsciousness.

One of the cards is very legible and was sent from 1206 Florida Street, San Francisco to 59 Lower Yellow Road, Waterford, Ireland.


It doesn’t surprise me that the stamp has been removed from the postcard as foreign stamps had great appeal even in my childhood. The fact that it was 1 cent for the stamp suggests, from my research, that the card was sent sometime between 1919 and 1952.

Here in Waterford, a trip to take a look at  59 Lower Yellow Road the other day brought something of a surprise. Here’s how it looks now:


Number 59 is to the left as we look at the building which is now Calvary Waterford Christian Church and prior to that it was a pub. I’m still in the throes of trying to find out if and when it was a residence of the Nolan family.

I was rather taken by an old postbox on The Lower Yellow Road and had visions of Mrs Nolan perhaps posting letters to San Francisco from there, though a visit to the Post Office might have been necessary.

Old Post Box on Lower Yellow Road, Waterford

The view of Lower Yellow Road from No. 59 looks like this:

Lower Yellow Road, Waterford

So many questions ~ so many memories ~ and what of 1206 Florida Street in San Francisco? Perhaps somebody will help me fill in the gaps at both sides of the Atlantic.

Meanwhile, one has to wonder if many postcards are being sent from San Fran to Waterford these days or is it all Skype, texts, Facebook and the like?




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.
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
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
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
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
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 


When a Mermaid Opens her Purse

It was through blogging that I met Clare Scott, who has the wonderful blog, The Mermaids Purse.  We only live a few miles from each other and share a passion for nature and the sea.

While I’ve long been admiring Clare’s artwork on her blog, it was only on Saturday when I went to the opening of her art exhibition in Waterford, that I saw the true depths of her talent and creativity.

I could only chuckle to myself as I got dressed up (by my standards) to go to the opening and met Clare in a very flattering ‘little black number.’ We had never met before dressed in anything but outdoor gear ~either layers and layers of jumpers and jackets or functional swimsuits and rainbows of towels.

Clare Scott at the Exhibition Opening
Clare Scott at the Exhibition Opening

The art exhibition ShellSTONESilkBONE lures one into a world of texture and colour. Not suprisingly, the sea and the seashore feature strongly but through eyes which have clearly been captivated by the gorgeous detail of seaweed, stones,  shells …..

Clare’s ability to capture texture and bring one into folds and layers is breathtaking. I simply loved what I can only describe as ‘silk drapes’ with the light playing on them. And, this drape theme is also found in some stunning paintings of bedrooms ~ I am still haunted by one of a room in a hostel in San Francisco where the net curtains look like they are still moving after being gently twitched.

I simply couldn’t go home after seeing ShellSTONESilkBONE, which is being staged at Aoife’s Cafe and Gallery opposite historic Reginald’s Tower in Waterford City. I made my way to Garrarus Beach which is the place I most associate with Clare. With a feeling of sisterhood, I felt I should take a photograph of Garrarus as it looked while the exhibition was demanding Clare’s attentions.

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


ShellSTONESilkBONE runs until June 30th and is guaranteed to draw you in and soak you with new perspectives on what you may have thought was a familiar world. 


Sunday Morning Connections ~ Gatherings from Ireland # 312

Festival of Colour, Creativity and Connection
Festival of Colour, Creativity and Connection

I’ve been rather surprised that no one has submitted a song or, indeed music,  of any description to the Festival of Colour, Creativity and Connection here on Social Bridge over the last few weeks.

Songs are all about connections to me and  ever since I mentioned Kris Kristofferson at the weekend that Winter-time started here in Ireland, he’s been more and more on my mind.

Kris Kristofferson brings me back to my teenage years in the 1970s and, most of all, I associate him with sitting on an oil heater in the drawing-room of the Bank House in Drogheda, playing his Greatest Hits, over and over and over and … again.

Listening back to the songs over the last week or so, they make me feel like Kris Kristofferson  was my introduction to the roller-coaster of emotions that are associated with  growing up, loving, leaving, losing, living …..

I must have played Me and Bobby McGee a million times visualising myself in that van with the wind-shield wipers slappin’ time … and contemplating the words: Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose …

I don’t think there’s been a Sunday morning since those teenage days that I haven’t had thought of  Sunday Morning Coming Down. More than anywhere, it hit me when I ventured out on my first day in America – San Francisco  ~ a Sunday, January 2, in 1983.

I’d love to hear what songs/music have extra-special connections for you?