Your columnist - Gerry Moran
‘Have you been over the bridge yet?’ My bum had barely landed on the barstool when I was greeted with this. ‘Which one?’, says I, feeling a bit impish (which wouldn’t be my form!) ‘Very funny, the new bridge, of course.’ ‘You mean the St. Francis Bridge.’ ‘Whatever. Have you been over it yet?’ ‘I haven’t.’ ‘Well you should.’ ‘Why?’ ‘Because it’s there’, smiles a fellow imbiber to my left, taking a long, satisfying swallow from his pint of stout. ‘So should I climb Mount Everest too because it’s there to get back to your Hillery quote?’ ‘Mallory actually’, he shoots back, licking a frothy Guinness moustache from his upper lip. Oh, oh, I’m in serious company. No slouches here (there never are)
‘So I take it that you’ve both been over the bridge then?’ They had. ‘And?’. ‘Don’t know what all the fuss was about’, says my man who broached the topic of the bridge. ‘I think it’s great, marvellous views of Canice’s Cathedral, St. Francis’s Abbey…and the Castle.’ ‘Sure you could always see the Castle from Green’s Bridge.’ I point out. ‘You could and get yourself run over in the process.’ Slight pause then while we gather our thoughts and sip our pints. ‘Pity about the name’, says my man, ‘Mallory’, on the left. ‘Oh, you have a problem with St. Francis?’ I ask. ‘No problem whatsoever with the man – didn’t he fancy the birds, an admirable and healthy hobby.’ ‘But you’re not happy with the name?’ ‘Confederation Bridge, would have been my choice.’ ‘Capital name’, I shoot back (I’m no slouch myself betimes) My man gives a little grunt of approval (I think) to my remark. ‘Did you submit that name to the Council for consideration?’ I casually enquire. ‘Don’t be ludicrous?’ he exclaims. ‘Didn’t matter what names were submitted they were always going to call it what they wanted to call it’. ‘Bit cynical, don’t you think?’ ‘BIT cynical!’, he retorted, rather cynically.
And now the rest of the bar are getting in on the chat. ‘Is it called after St. Francis or Pope Francis?’ someone enquired. ‘The Pope is called after St. Francis as is the bridge’, he was smartly informed. ‘I just wondered’, he continued, ‘because I see where your man from Wexford on the Council wants to invite Pope Francis to Kilkenny when he’s in Ireland next year to see the bridge’. ‘And if the Pope does come, you all know what’ll happen then?’ another punter asks. We didn’t know. ‘He’ll whip the Pope down to Vinegar Hill to pray for the Wexford hurlers’. ‘And Davy Fitz’, pipes up a fellow at the end of the bar. ‘Leave poor Davy alone’, he was sharply told. And, God forgive us all, but we laughed out loud. ‘A Papal Blessing won’t do Wexford any good.’ ‘You mightn’t be saying that in a few weeks time.’
‘They should have called it Prince Charles Bridge’, someone said, ‘I mean he was in the city at the time, he could have cut the ribbon, would have made for a nice bit of bridge-building between our two countries.’ ‘For Jaysus sake’, muttered one of the ‘congregation’ and stormed off for a smoke. ‘Leave the bridge building to Mary McAleese’. ‘What with all our bridges maybe we should have called it McAleese Bridge?’ ‘No need, there’s a McAleese bridge in Drogheda’. ‘Really?’ ‘Really’ ‘What about Green’s Bridge 11?’ ‘Lads, lads, the bridge is christened. Full stop. Done deal. End of story.’ ‘Well let’s re-christen it’. ‘Would it be a born-again bridge then?’ ‘I’ll tell ye all what we should call it, or rechristen it’, pipes up my man who kick-started the conversation. ‘We should rechristen it Seánie Fitzpatrick Bridge.’ ‘What?’ ‘What?’ ‘Why?’ ‘Because’, says he with a wry smile, ‘the bridge, like Seánie, is above the banks.’ ‘Oh God.’ That ’s when we abandoned the bridge and turned to the banks of the Lee and Cork’s win over our great hurling rivals, Tipp who are desperately trying to bridge the six-gap: the gap of six All Ireland hurling titles that they trail us by.