Sunday, March 06, 2016

It Says in The Bridge — March 2016

There are two covers to The Bridge this month, writes Brian Byrne. The March 2016 one and, inset, a facsimile of the first ever issue of the magazine, published in March 1971. With 45 years of water flowed under the actual bridge that was pictured on that cover, Kilcullen's community magazine has certainly covered a lot of happenings here in that time.

Inside, a jolt to this writer's memory bank. In a reproduction of the opening page of that original is listed the Editorial Board, with Editor Rev C Price, comprising Rev T O'Shaughnessy, Brian Keyes NT, Owen Cooney, Cecil Mullen, James Doyle, John Breslin … and yours truly, Brian Byrne. The magazine secretaries at that beginning are noted as A Cooney and E Kelly.

For me, it's the marker of my beginnings in the journalism which I subsequently made my full-time career. But at that time I was busy working in the family business, The Hideout, never dreaming how the decades ahead would work out for me.

Of course, nobody on that board had any idea about how the embryo Bridge would work out, either. Whether it would even survive a year, five, or ten. And yes, there have been times when it seemed to have reached an exhaustion, an end of the road, but by dint of new effort, innovation, sometimes stubbornness, it was kept going, an exampling light of community at work.

We applaud all of that today, and wish The Bridge continuing safe passage through its 46th year.

Applause too for others on this month's front page, which pictures the three newly-elected TDs for Kildare South, previous incumbents Martin Heydon and Sean O Fearghaill joined by Fiona O'Loughlin. We wish them safe passage too through the political minefields of our next parliament.

In the new 'Thought of the Month' which replaces the old Editorial, guest writer Bernard Berney also muses on matters political, recalling his recent election canvassing with his relative Fiona McLoughlin Healy. His first time on a canvass, and he found it to be 'absolutely wonderful', meeting lovely friends whose company he had missed so much since his retirement. "The fact that we were often on different sides in the political battle did not interfere in the slightest with the feelings of regard and friendship towards one another," he says.

(A thought we commend to those already behaving so fractiously, even nastily, on the airwaves as they wend their way to their seats in the new Dail. Let them remember that they're not there to 'trump' each other at every opportunity, but to serve the nation's citizens who put them where they are. End of admonishment.)

This month's Bridge has familiar columns and sections, but there's also a sense of onward movement that will over the coming year transform the publication. Meantime, there's lots of news, including the acquisition for Gormanstown Church of the organ from the former Dominican Church in Athy, through the good offices of Peter Moloney and Kildare County Council. There will be more on that.

An update on the Teach Na nDaoine project which will be a drop-in centre for older people notes that quite a bit of money will be needed along with the many offers of volunteer work to refurbish the old Dispensary. The next fundraiser will be a Poker Night in The Mill Bar on Friday 1 April.

Fundraising is also the focus of news from the Kilcullen Team Relay for Life 2016, but also there's room for more helpers for the weekend itself in August. Contact Sabina Reddy or Peter White, numbers in the Bridge.

Funds are needed too for the repairs to the Camphill Nature Trail damaged by recent high flood levels in the river. All the details are reported. And there's a statement of affairs on the successful fundraising for the Kilcullen Christmas Lights in 2015, total cost €11,885.

In Schools News, the Kildare Steiner School had the third in its series of workshops on 'Steiner Education and your Growing Child'; Brannoxtown NS had a visit from former pupils now in TY in CPC, who talked to current 5th and 6th class children about banking, investing, trading and saving, no less; Scoil Bhride is now running a very successful chess team; and St Joseph's NS had a great Grandparents Day.

In the Sports Editorial, Killian Whelan looks at the importance of extra-curricular school activities such as sport to the current and future well-being of the nation and the provision of leadership. He urges all new public representatives to recognise and understand its value, especially as much of it is organised in a voluntary capacity by many teachers around the country.

Among this month's features is a very interesting return to Kilcullen's 'passive house', built from polystyrene for Kim O'Neill. Two years on, it's proving very effective indeed, and has also stood up perfectly against the recent big storms.

From the regulars, Julie Dunlop writes about wrestling with a faith which we can't always make sense of, but finding peace. Billy Redmond is on a religious bent too, but in his case wondering how to wrestle with a hierarchal body on mundane matters such as heating the local church. Sean Landers recalls going back to sleep after 'gentle swaying' of his bed woke him during the recent Taiwan earthquake. The Animal Rescue page reminds that from 31 March, it will be compulsory for all dogs to be microchipped.

But as we approach Easter and the remembrance of the Rising, the most fascinating piece is arguably the story of Mary Ellen 'Daisy' Patterson, a young Naas woman who played an extremely active role as a member of Cumann na mBan before, during and after that event, then came to live in Kilcullen. She never spoke of it publicly afterwards during the 26 years of her marriage to James 'The Miller' Collins. For this alone, buy the current Bridge.

Finally, back to that picture of the Liffey bridge on the original cover. That's how the edifice was before it was widened some years later. And that's how the new concrete was supposed to be refinished by the Council afterwards, using the original stonework. Wouldn't it be nice if, after more than four decades, they did that little bit of work?