Friday, January 04, 2013

A year of blessings to the Bridge Community

At the 'No Longer a Visitor' photographic exhibition in 2006.

This is a year of special celebration for the Bridge Camphill Community, as they'll be marking 21 years since their arrival in the then small Kilcullen village, writes Brian Byrne.

They plan a special celebration week in August, which will involve bringing back former co-workers, residents and friends to the riverside enclave which is now a very important part of Kilcullen's landscape and community.

When the founding group arrived, their new home was locally known as Nugents Field, used only for grazing of cattle and access to the river Liffey bank by fishermen, and by youngsters who were still allowed out to play on their own.

Slowly the new owners of the property turned it into another community within the greater Kilcullen one which would add enormously to the identity of a village growing more.

There are precedents. Individuals within and arriving in a community can from time to time make significant differences. Often not even noticable at the time but eventually foundational in their impact. In this writer's memory, there are the likes of the Parish Carnival Committee who annually brought in people and funds to both the businesses and the parish itself. There was Paddy Nugent (who coincidentally owned the property on which the Bridge Camphill set up their own project), whose efforts with the Kilcullen Development Association provided affordable housing to help grow Kilcullen decades before the concept became a national ideal.

There were individuals like Jerry Kelly, May Connolly, Michael St Leger, none of whom would be familiar to those many, and welcome, people and families who have made their home here in the last decade. Others were the people who founded the Credit Union in Kilcullen, who established the Community Centre, and clergy who in their own ways encouraged and supported many other elements of what makes Kilcullen a great place to live in today.

Pat Lynch, Paddy Aspell, my own father and their work with the Kilcullen Boxing Club, back in the 1950s, helped develop an organisation that instilled club and sporting spirit into many young lads who went on to achieve good and enjoyable lives.

The sisters of the Cross & Passion, who came to found a primary school and left more than a century later a legacy of education and more which has underpinned not just Kilcullen, but many other places to where their students went to live.

I could go on, and on. But this piece is primarily to put a preliminary marker on the coming of age of the Bridge Community, at the beginning of this celebratory year for them.

Butterfly Trail
At the Butterfly Walk last year.

Whether it is the wonderful focal point which the An Tearmann cafe and crafts shop has become to local people and those from further afield, or the produce from the amazingly self-sufficient Bridge Community farm sold in the Manna vegetable shop, or the generous provision of a nature trail to Kilcullen which offers a haven of peace in an unruly world, the community is now an integral part of all of our lives. Not to forget the example of the co-workers and residents, and volunteers, who provide daily reminders of true values in life.

Come August, there will be many direct opportunities to show our appreciation of having the Bridge Community as an elemental part of Kilcullen in the further decades to come. But for now, we hope they have a happy and fruitful anniversary year, in which we in Kilcullen wish them multiples of the blessings which they have given us over more than two decades.

At the Bridge Community celebration of Culture Night 2012.