The new, cable-span bridge, upriver from Rice Bridge in Waterford city, will be opened next week but, as I understand it, it will not be given an official name by the National Roads Authority. Personally, I think that’s a shame because most of the world’s famous bridges do have names and, as the new structure is particularly striking and beautiful, there is a great opportunity to create an iconic name that would conjure up all sorts of wonderful images and become part of the national and maybe even international vocabulary.

Think of The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, The Brooklyn Bridge in New York, The Sydney Harbour Bridge, Tower Bridge in London, The Forth Rail Bridge in Edinburgh and the majestic Lake Portchartrain Bridge in Louisiana. Then there are two tiny bridges that everybody knows about, The Ha’penny Bridge in Dublin and The Bridge of Sighs in Venice.

I imagine there would be no shortage of suggestions if our new bridge were to be christened and already some local wags are referring to it as the ‘Cat Flap’ which is clever when you think about it. There might be a bit of parish-pump wrangling between Waterford and Kilkenny if an official name was to be decided upon but, surely, a compromise on a neutral but very catchy name could be reached. If readers want to send in suggestions, I will print the best ones in this column. Write to The Munster Express, 37 The Quay, Waterford; telephone the news room at 051-872141 or email

Just to get you going, some of the suggestions from colleagues in the office are as follows, The Bridge of Saints and Sinners, The Rock and Roll Bridge, The Bridge of Lusty Lovers (there must be something I don’t know about the person who gave me that one!) and The Royal Viking Bridge. Then there were suggestions like The Tom Cheasty Bridge and The Ollie Walsh Bridge but, worthy though such people are, I don’t think we would get agreement on both sides of the river for a named individual unless it was something like The Elvis Presley Bridge. Now there’s a thought. The King’s fans would come from all over the world to visit!

Avoiding the rain and pain in Spain!

Most people will be well aware of the various ‘specials’ being offered by hotels around the country at present and there are certainly some good bargains available, especially for people who can avail of midweek or ‘last minute’ offers. But, perhaps, our government might find some inspiration in the way that the Spanish authorities are shoring up their tourism sector over the winter months.

Aimed at keeping the tourist hotels and their staffs at least ticking over, the Spanish government already has a domestic package that allows older Spanish people take holidays in the Balearic Islands during the off-peak months. Roughly speaking, a pensioner on the Spanish mainland will get a ten-day ‘all found’ holiday in Majorca, including flights and transfers, for less than €200.

Now the Spanish government has gone one better and is seeking to partly subsidise holidays to the Islands and the Costas for older foreign nationalists. As far as this country is concerned, they have done a deal with Aer Lingus regarding flights and the longer you stay, the cheaper it gets. If you are over 55, from now until the end of April, excluding the Christmas and New Year holidays, you can have a four week holiday in a top hotel, including flights, transfers and full board, for €855 per person sharing. If you are a single person who prefers not to share, the same package is available for a charge of an extra €15 per night and that’s still pretty good value.

I know we are not comparing like with like as far as costs in Ireland and Spain are concerned but, all the same, it does show what can be done.

A new strain of cannabis?

Everybody knows that the scourge of drug abuse is now affecting practically every sector in our communities and most experts have long believed that cannabis is the ‘gateway’ drug that leads on to cocaine and heroin. And that is why everybody involved in the battle against drugs across the country was dismayed last week at a find in woods near Granard, County Longford.

In this country, cannabis is usually grown in a dark, indoors location aided by artificial heat and, on maturity, the plants normally grow three or four feet tall. However, in a relatively small area of the Granard wood, gardai discovered a ‘farm’ of 130 giant cannabis plants growing in the open and all were between nine and ten feet in height. They estimated that the street value of that crop alone would be in the region of €25,000.

Experts are now examining the confiscated plants but they are very worried that somebody has managed to cultivate a new strain of cannabis that will grow and flourish outdoors in our climate. If that turns out to be the case, the next step will be to determine just how potent or dangerous it is.

Help for unemployed GAA players

The GAA has always been a pro-active organization when it comes to finding employment for its players and good luck to all concerned. But the situation is now so bad in some parts of the country that GAA County Boards are setting up special in-house committees charged with the task of finding employment, first of all for inter-county stars and then for rank and file club players. Special fundraising activities are also being conducted to raise money to fly players home from outside Ireland for important games. That in itself is nothing new but, apparently, the current situation is now close to matching the worst previous scenarios.

Watch out for a giant hedgehog

Very soon, drivers on the new M11 up the east coast will have an unusual piece of public art to admire as they drive past. Six pieces of proposed public art were proposed for the new Gorey bypass and were put on display earlier this year for public comment that was taken into account by the adjudicating panel.

The successful application was Cork artist Alex Pentek whose proposal was for a giant hedgehog to be positioned on a sloping, grassy bank as if it was calmly observing passing traffic.

An artist’s impression as to how the hedgehog will look in scale with the surroundings is certainly impressive and Mr. Pentek is expected to have the steel structure in place by next summer. It will be located just over the Wicklow/Wexford border above the southbound lane of the M11, opposite the northbound layby. No doubt people will have great fun coming up with a name for the giant hedgehog.

More than one way to solve a problem

When NASA first began sending astronauts into outer space they discovered that ballpoint pens did not work in zero gravity and so they initiated a programme aimed at developing a pen that could write upside down during missions on any surface in any temperature. It cost a lot of money but they succeeded in solving the problem and now they have no difficulty writing reports in the space shuttle or in the international space station. As for the Russians, they had the same problem so, from day one, they used pencils instead of pens!