February 6th has a strong echo in my life as it was the day in 1967 that our family moved from Castleblayney in Co. Monaghan to Drogheda in Co. Louth. I was nine then and that was one of five moves that we made from when I was 3 to 18 years old. ( I also moved away from home when I was seventeen to go to College but that’s a different kind of moving.)

These moves were all within Ireland and were part of father’s job in the bank. Both he and mother had been in the bank from the early 1940s and had moved numerous times in their single days ~ their paths crossing when they were both based in Kilkenny City for a while.

As a kid, I found moving from place to place rather exciting and remember being full of excitement as I bade everyone in Castleblayney goodbye and watched all our belongings, which were packed in tea chests, being loaded into a huge big removal van.

Bank House, Castleblayney, Co. Monaghan
Bank House, Castleblayney, Co. Monaghan

There’s no doubt that all the moves brought us very close together as a family ~ we only had each other until we made new friends. Going to new schools was daunting, especially landing there in the middle of term and having to get to grips with new teachers, new sets of rules and and, of course, all the existing pupils who tended to be curious about any newcomer.

Apart from family, tennis was the other anchor that made moving manageable. Tennis courts are the same size no matter where you go and the rules of the game are the same. It was always such a relief to get sorted in a tennis club and be able to feel at home hitting forehands and backhands like always!

We never knew how long we’d be staying in any one place ~ it ranged from 10 months to 8 years ~ but it was pretty certain that a transfer was never too far off. This never stopped me from putting down roots and getting incredibly attached to places but there was always that feeling of being a little bit on the sidelines.

St. Patrick’s Day always made me feel this ‘outsidedness’ more than any other. I can vividly remember watching St. Patrick’s Days Parades from our Bank House window in the middle of Drogheda and feeling that I simply didn’t belong in the town. To this day, I’ve never be a part of a St. Patrick’s Day Parade! Perhaps, this year I’ll get stuck into our local one here in Tramore, which is the place I was born and the place to which I eventually returned full-time in 1991.

More than anything, all the moving as a child, brought it home to me how every single place has lots and lots to offer; new people, new landscape, a depth of local history. Much of this can be taken for granted by people who have always lived in the same place but through new eyes it can be a whole new adventure.

The Viaduct, Drogheda, Co. Louth.
The Viaduct, Drogheda, Co. Louth.

It certainly doesn’t surprise me, after all this, that it is very often people who are ‘blow ins’ who blog or write about the wonders of places.

Are you a person who moved around as a child or did you spend your childhood in the one place? 



Ace of Hearts ~ Five Photos/Five Stories 1

Ace of Hearts

There’s always a story behind how couples get together and I took this photo as it reminded me of this day in 1982 as it was the day that hubby captured my heart.

We had known each other through tennis for a good few years but a few weeks before the Tramore Open Tennis Championships that year I discovered that my brother with whom I normally played mixed doubles wasn’t going to be around so I boldly asked Adrian if he would partner me.

We didn’t hit it off on the tennis court; in fact we were a disastrous combination as our temperaments are totally different. Thankfully, we were beaten very early on in the week but I managed to scramble into the final of the singles.

I was up against a very tough opponent and said to Adrian that if I lost I’d be delighted if he would come for a swim in the sea after the match to cool me down.

I was absolutely annihilated and turned to him after the defeat and said: How about that swim?

It was a gorgeous sunny day and we drove down to the beach and ran into the waves.  I took it that he was a water baby like me as he seemed perfectly at home in the ocean.

After the swim, we passed a little seaside shop that had a kiddies’ machine outside with sweets and beaded bracelets in it. I’ve always had a thing about beaded bracelets so being the gentleman he is, he handed me the coin for the machine and lo and behold a brightly coloured bracelet fell into the slot.

We headed back to the tennis club for the presentation and there was a definite sense of romance in the air.

We saw little of each other for for quite a few months after that and I went to America for three months at the beginning of 1983. I sent him what I thought was a well-chosen postcard.

Soon after I got back from the States,  I met him down town in his car one lunchtime. I sat in and asked him if he’d got my postcard. He gave me a disgruntled look and showed me the torn up shreds of the postcard which were in the side pocket of the car door. He said something like: ‘I thought you would have done better than three lines on a postcard.’ 

We’re still chalk and cheese but will be married 24 years next month. Yes, I still have the bracelet; and, no, he’s certainly not the water baby I thought he was.  In fact, I don’t think he’s been for a swim in the sea since this day 33 years ago.

I’d like to thank Willow for nominating me for the Five Photos Five Stories Challenge.

Here are the rules for the “Five Photos Five Stories” challenge: “Post a photo each day for five consecutive days and attach a story to the photo. It can be fiction or non-fiction, a poem or a short paragraph and each day nominate another blogger for the challenge.

My first nomination for the challenge is Lauren over at Baydreamer


No Ordinary Sunday ~ Part 2


July 12, 2015 is winding to a close here in Ireland and it’s tinged with a sadness which I feel every year as Wimbledon ends. It has been a brilliant two weeks ~ and already I’m dreaming of next year.

I was hoping to see Andy Murray win and when he was out, then Roger Federer was my next hope but alas ….. Brings me back to years I sobbed over Billie Jean King, when son Harry was inconsolable over Lindsay Davenport.

And while Roger was losing, the Waterford hurling team were being edged out by Tipperary. My heart bled as the team played their hearts out and we now have to face the famous ‘back door’ and meet Dublin in the knock-outs instead of sitting pretty in the semi-finals. This is serious stuff for me, as you can see, and it will take a while to deal with it.

Sport is a great teacher; always has been. It’s all about highs and lows, winning and losing. Most of all, it’s character-forming and shows the importance of talent, dedication, teamwork, physical fitness, mental agility, strategic thinking and passion.

So, as always, I return to Rudyard Kipling’s great poem, If, as it never fails to bring calm and perspective about both sport and life.

No Ordinary Sunday


Stan and I had the beach to ourselves very early this morning when the tide was out and all was calm.

However, it was like the sea was full of anticipation for the flood of sporting energy and passion that is just waiting to flood this special Sunday afternoon.

My beloved Waterford are playing Tipperary in the Munster Hurling Final in Semple Stadium in Thurles ~ throw in at 4pm ~ and the ‘boys’ have headed off with the mandatory sandwiches and bananas. Only problem is that hubby is mad Tipperary and son (like me)  is Waterford to the core and both are lunatics when it comes to supporting their teams. At least, one of them will be happy when they return! Let’s hope it’s the younger lemon!

Looking out for Waterford!
Looking out for Waterford!

Meanwhile, there’s the mega matter of the Wimbledon Final that’s almost upon us. My heart is skipping beats already and hoping, hoping, hoping that the brilliance of Roger Federer will shine through with all his grace, glory and greatness.


The Secret Ingredient

I’ve been thinking a lot about ‘confidence’ over the last while ~ really since this bag was given to me and became the bag for my swimming gear.

Confidence 2

Every time I look at it, and that’s about ten times a day, I ponder more and more about the relationship between confidence and money.

I would like to believe that confidence has nothing to do with money but I simply can’t and it’s all because of a little boy with immense talent for tennis from a very poor area whom I sort of ‘adopted’ many years ago.

I got to know him when he was about seven. He had beautiful blue eyes and a head of tousled blonde curls. He was waif-like but his hand-eye co-ordination was amazing and he was incredibly speedy around the court.

I knew that he had oodles more ability than the vast majority of kids his age but was also aware that his background was going to militate against him when it came to competing in tournaments.

He came on in leaps and bounds with practice and loved the racket that had once belonged to my brother.

Every time I look at the ‘confidence’ bag, I think of the day I brought him to a tournament in Dublin to give him a run against some of tennis kids of his age.


Before he even got to the court, I could see that he was intimidated by the posh surroundings and the cliques of players who were dressed in great style. He played his little heart out and lost about  6-2 6-3 to a highly ranked player.

The awful part was that no one talked to him or made him feel remotely at home. In fact, he felt so totally uncomfortable and overwhelmed  that he said he couldn’t face playing in any more tournaments like that one.

He was one of  many highly talented kids I’ve known who fell by the tennis wayside. Perhaps, I was overly innocent in thinking that he could overcome the obstacles and grind his way through, even though was like a fish out of water.

Or perhaps, he was was just too sensitive and wasn’t able to ‘Act as if it were impossible to fail,’ as Dorothea Brande suggests.

I often wonder what became of him and hope against hope that he remembers those childhood tennising years with a sense of happiness and that he learned lessons from them that enabled him to realise his potential in life.

What do YOU think about confidence and its relationship to socio-economic circumstances? 



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

Love All


I’ve been giddy with excitement over the last while waiting for Wimbledon to start and certainly haven’t been disappointed today with lots of great matches and, of course, the perfect excuse to indulge in scrumptious strawberries and cream.

I simply can’t imagine living in a house that wasn’t tennis mad. Hubby and I met through our love of tennis and son, Harry, is a total addict as well.

This is the fortnight of the year when there are no issues whatsoever about the remote control, which can be such a pain in the butt for the other 50 weeks!

So, don’t be surprised if I’m a little giddy over the next two weeks!

Roger Federrer's Colours!
Roger Federrer’s Colours!

Blogging Down the Years

Thoughts of  the unfolding of years are among the Decemebery things that come round every year for me like berried holly and fresh mistletoe.

As I was out walking yesterday, I was thinking of how so much of own’s life can be encapsulated by thinking of the defining events, images, memories associated with particular years in each decade.

This brought me to:

1964 ~ I was seven and we had just moved to Castleblayney, Co. Monaghan. That was a whole new adventure and it was the last year in which all five of us (Mother, Dad and us three kids) were together as a family as my sister headed off to boarding school in 1965.  Being insulated by a warm, warm family is what stands out most as well as the arrival of our very first television in time for Christmas.

Running Free Photo: Frank Tubridy
Running Free
Photo: Frank Tubridy

1974: I did my Leaving Certificate in 1974 by which time we were living in Drogheda, Co. Louth.  It was a year of turmoil in quite a lot of ways and the Troubles in Northern Ireland were a huge worry.

I had placed all my hopes on pursuing a career in tennis but a serious wrist injury put all that on hold.  I had deferred taking up a university place in the hope that summer surgery would rectify the problem but by the December it was clear that a career in tennis was out of the question. That was the year I began learning to drive and it was also the year that my sister and I were re-united as she came back ‘home’ to teach in the school that I had just left.  It was all a bit of a social whirl with big sis as ‘chaperone!’

The song I played over and over in 1974 was this one:

1984: This was a year in which I was still reeling from the death from cancer of my long-time boyfriend from cancer in 1981.

I was ensconced in Trinity College, where I had embarked on a PhD on the experiences of people with physical disabilities in Ireland and I was also very busy working as a researcher on an exciting EU project in the Midlands about the  integration of people with disabilities into society.

Tennis was back on the agenda and I simply adored being able to compete again after all the missed years.

Weather-Beaten Photo: Frank Tubridy
Photo: Frank Tubridy

1994: Undoubtedly the highlight of 1994 was pregnancy and anticipation of motherhood.

That was a year in which I was working in two areas I love: teaching and research and was able to work from home base here in Tramore.

Tramore Bay
Tramore Bay

 2004: This marked the last year that my parents were in good health but they loved spending time with our son, Harry, who was very close to both of them from the moment he was born.

This was a time of major juggling between work and ferrying 9-year old Harry to all sorts of sporting activities.

A major highlight of 2004 was Waterford’s victory in what is considered to be the greatest Munster Hurling Final of all time:

It’s a year I very much associate with my father’s photography and being down in my parents house hearing about their outings to places here in Co. Waterford which they adored.

Curraghmore, Co. Waterford Photo: Frank Tubridy
Curraghmore, Co. Waterford
Photo: Frank Tubridy

 2014 ….. Right now, it’s hard to focus on highlights of 2014 but I certainly associate it with an ever-increasing love of Co. Waterford, nature, the ocean, blogging, poetry and a whole new adventure into the world of carpets.

_Sinead_Boyle_Image_IMG_7202_ (1)

And, of course, the new love affair with Stan!





Sporting Passion, Jersey, and the Ryder Cup

It would have been impossible for me to marry someone who didn’t have deep interest in sport. I just couldn’t cope with questions like: What on earth is a topspin lobor What the hell has an eagle got to to do with golf?

Well, I’m glad to report that I found ‘love’ on a tennis court and the guy who courted me and whom I eventually married was a keen sportsman who played about 6 sports at representative level and continues to have an absolute passion for sport in general.

Our honeymoon  on the lovely island of Jersey coincided with the Ryder Cup in 1991. When we arrived at the hotel, hubby  made a mad lunge at the television to be sure that it had all the stations necessary to see every shot of the competition.

Jersey was stunning, with its beaches, coastal paths, seafood restaurants on tiny harbours,  The Lavendar Farm, La Mare Vineyard, Jersey Pottery and, of course, nearby Sark Island with its feudal regime.

The Ryder Cup was played in Kiawah Island, South Carolina that year and really it was like we became bi-located once it got underway on the Friday.

Watching the Preview of this year’s competition with hubby last night, I got a tingle of excitement and a real sense of deja vu when when he said of Ian Poulter: Here’s your man!  My man in 1991 was undoubtedly Seve Ballesteros, who I had been fortunate enough to see in the flesh here in Ireland and who is without doubt the most handsome man I have ever laid eyes on. And what an inspirational golfer, not unlike Ian Poulter!

The 1991 Ryder Cup was unbearably close and we travelled home on the Sunday as the latter stages were unfolding. My parents had invited us for tea but weren’t in the least surprised when hubby shot passed them to catch the last few holes in which Europe were just pipped.

I can imagine that this could well be some people’s idea of absolute hell but somehow the Ryder Cup gives me a biennial reminder of the extent to which our marriage is built on a shared love of sport of all descriptions.

It’s all in the genes, as we both come from sporting families, and I could only smile when our son told me the other day of how he was shocked and horrified to be asked by someone: How many games are in a tennis match?

So, best of luck to the smiling Paul McGinley and his fabulous European team.  We’ll be watching!




The Grand Finale ~ Wimbledon 2014

I can’t remember a time when Wimbledon fortnight wasn’t the centre piece in my sporting year and Men’s Finals Day has always been incredibly special.

It’s a day with a long build up and yesterday was no different;  a walk up the hills with ‘puppy’ Stan and a quick swim in Garrarus, thinking about Wimbledons past and present.

Mother might as well have been with me  talking about Fred Perry and how she listened to Wimbledon Finals on the radio as a child. Then there was the year that she ‘discovered’ Andre Agassi in one of the very early rounds when I was off playing tennis somewhere. He became her prodigy and certainly served her well!

Mother on the Grass Courts of Tramore Tennis Club in the early 1960s
Mother on the Grass Courts of Tramore Tennis Club in the early 1960s

And there was a day that Mother and I stopped in Dungarvan for a cuppa, only to hear that Jim Courier had been beaten in the first or second round. Devastation of devastations for Jim and me.

And, of course, all those Men’s Finals with such great rivals ~ they flow back endlessly to wooden rackets, Dan Maskell’s dulcet tones and culminated yesterday in that thriller between Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic.

Roger Federer and Novak Djocovic. Source: Getty Images
Roger Federer and Novak Djocovic.
Source: Getty Images

But what a game of skill, passion, athleticism, touch, power, sportsmanship and sheer excitement was played between these two greats. I was hoping that Roger Federer, with his ballet dancer movement and flowing one-handed backhand,  would win and was in ecstasy when he pulled back to win the fourth set. That fifth set had me eating cushions, nails, hiding behind the sofa, pulling my hair out … but it got to a point where I didn’t want either man to lose. I just wanted the magic to go on and on …..

Victorious Novak Djokovic Photo: Getty Images Europe

The grace of  Roger Federer in defeat and the humility of Novak Djokovic reduced me to tears. Yesterday, it felt like the world of tennis was a big, big winner.

It will take me a year to get over yesterday’s final ….. but I’m already thinking about Wimbledon 2015!

If you can meet with triumph and disaster 
And treat those two imposters just the same; 
(Rudyard Kipling)