Friday, April 21, 2017

Air Corps photo brings bridge memories back

This photograph, courtesy of the Irish Air Corps archives, is one of few in existence which clearly shows the beauty of Kilcullen bridge before it was widened, writes Brian Byrne.

The Diary is grateful to James Glynn for pointing us in the direction of the photo, which in the archive is described as 'date unknown', but with the help of the Nugent family, we have been able to get an approximation.

For a start, the weir is broken, which happened in the autumn of 1946, according to Mrs Rita Nugent. She went to work in Ennis in the spring of the following year, and came back home in 1949 after the death of her brother Peter.

During that time she came home on visits, and remembers Paddy Nugent working on re-slating his family home, and in the picture he can be seen doing just that. Her recollection is that the roof was finished before she came home.

"Also, the forge where the coffee shop kitchen is now was rented by Ray Kelly's uncle John ffrench," Geraldine Nugent told the Diary. "But when petrol became plentiful after the war his business suffered so he closed up and went to England, it looks like the forge is empty in the photograph."

The growth of grass on the broken weir suggests it has been like that for no more than a couple of years, so the likelihood is that the picture was taken in the summer of 1948.

There are some interesting details to mention. Looking close, the car parked beside Maloneys shop, in the lane down to the spout, could be a 'Bullnose' Morris, though I'm not sure of the windscreen shape. Maybe someone will remember.

Then there are the cattle in the river below the weir, which I remember myself as a boy. But look in close and there are children on the bank. You have to wonder who they might have been.

Also, all the people on the bridge, including a person with a bike, are busy looking up at the plane flying low over the town, no doubt wondering what the pilot is doing?

There are also, just barely visible as 'ghostly' figures in the shadow of the hedge of the vegetable garden where the Credit Union building is now, two people working with forks or spades, maybe digging out potatoes? And note also the neat vegetable gardens at the back of the Nugent home, now part of the Bridge Camphill farm and gardens.

As Geraldine Nugent told me, seeing the photograph yesterday 'started a lot of chat'.

That's what old pictures are for, bringing back the memories.