We speak not of politics, liberties and order in society but rather of taking them. To be blunt and not to beat about the Beggars Bush we speak of drink and pubs. Firstly there has been a serious debate raging recently with regard to the drink-driving limits – Government back-seat-benchers were getting their proverbial and collective knickers in a twist about the matter. Wringing their hands and the death-knell of rural life – the Irish rusty idyll – wailed their keening pleas.

But my friends, there are other perspectives, other ways of skinning that proverbial cat. I’m being deadly serious, so was a very wily scribe last week that I espied in ‘De Paper’ aka the Irish Examiner who astutely has come up with the ‘classic compromise’ – let them at it! I give you over to the wittily serious Tom Sykes who really has the Last Word of Wisdom on this, as far as I am concerned. So I thought it worthwhile to bring his thoughts down Deise way and beyond. 

Last orders

He says, speaking as an Englishman, who despite living in Ireland, doesn’t drink, and with no particular axe to grind other than the drunker people get at a party the more he wants to go home, therefore he hopes that his contribution will be respected for its impartiality at every level of the debate as to the appropriate levels of alcohol in the blood at which one should still be permitted to operate a vehicle in a predominantly rural society such as Ireland.

Tom makes the following proposal. In the city, where you can take a bus, taxi or walk home, and where there’s lots of innocent people around to hit, there’s really no excuse for being even slightly tipsy at the wheel.

But in the country, it’s a different matter, isn’t it? The pub is the hub, targets are few and far between and if an auld fella can’t weave his way home up the mountain three or four sheets to the wind singing half remembered snatches of the Nolan sisters, then rural life obviously be a great deal less enjoyable.

So his proposal is to scrap the drink driving limit altogether outside urban centres between the hours of midnight and 1 am, and turn the roads over to the inebriated. However, in order to escape prosecution a potential drunk driver will not only have to comply with the reverse curfew, but will also have to take his or her vehicle along to the local NTC centre for a few modifications, namely the installation of a large red ‘booze button’.

On pressing this button the car will automatically be locked into first gear, restricting top speed to a hopefully non-fatal and extremely noisy 12mph or less, and a large set of yellow flashing lights bearing the legend DRINK TAKEN will rise to the accompaniment of the theme tune to Father Ted from the roof. Thus equipped, the intoxicated driver will be immune from prosecution, on the basis that the only person he is going to kill is himself.

 Avoid midnight to 1am

The rest of us would simply have to try and not drive anywhere between the hours of midnight and 1am, which would be a bit of a bore to start with but Tom is sure that we would adapt, And, if we absolutely had to, well at least be able to spot the converted jalopies of the local dypsomaniacs crawling along the hard shoulders in a blaze of light from a mile off.

The installation of ‘booze button’ and drunk- lights on even a tenth of our cars would restore Irelands international reputation for being creative drunks at a stroke. There’s be economic benefits – and not just for the fitters- imagine the amount of foreign media who would descend on the remote corners of West Cork, Kerry and Waterford, no doubt, to document the happening! It would be a stimulus package all of its own. Cheers.

Well many a true word spoken in jest – or is he just trying to Sykes us out?

 More hot air

As I’m in a quirky mood today, let’s keep going with this one. A man in a hot air balloon realised he was lost.  He reduced altitude and spotted a woman below.  He descended a bit more and shouted, ‘Excuse me, can you help me?  I promised a friend I would met him an hour ago, but I don’t know where I am.’ The woman below replied, ‘You’re in a hot air balloon hovering approximately 30 feet above the ground.  You’re between 40 and 41 degrees north latitude and between 59 and 60 degrees west longitude.’

 ‘You must be in IT,’ said the balloonist.’ I am,’ replied the woman, ‘how did you know?’

 ‘Well,’ answered the balloonist, ‘everything you told me is technically correct, but I’ve no idea what to make of your information and the fact is I’m still lost.  Frankly, you’ve not been much help at all.  If anything, you’ve delayed my trip.’The woman below responded, ‘You must be in Management.’

‘I am,’ replied the balloonist, ‘but how did you know?’ ‘Well,’ said the woman, ‘you don’t know where you are or where you’re going.  You have risen to where you are due to a large quantity of hot air.  You made a promise, which you’ve no idea how to keep, and you expect people beneath you to solve your problems.  The fact is you are in exactly the same position you were in before we met, but now, somehow, it’s my fault.’

 Rice Bridge

Last week we dealt with the history Waterford’s earlier bridges but I dealt with Timbertoes and Redmond mainly with only a passing reference to Rice. So to complete the record here goes.

By 1981 the Redmond Bridge was branded dangerous and a new bridge was need. The bridge was to have four car lanes and would be built in two stages. The first stage began in August 1982; the two lanes were constructed by the side of Redmond Bridge, this phase was opened on 22nd October 1984.

The main contractor was Irishenco Ltd. of Dublin and the tender was £7.9 million. The opening span was 40 metres long and weighted 310 tones and was subcontracted out to Hollandia-Kloos of Rotterdam.

The entire opening span was transported to Waterford from Rotterdam and was lifted into position by a 400 ton capacity floating crane.

The Brother Edmund Ignatius Bridge was opened on 22nd October 1984 by Mr. Liam Kavanagh T.D. Phase one of the Bridge Replacement Project was finished and cars could flow over the two lanes of the City’s new bridge.

This was an important milestone for Waterford Corporation as they had been pressing for funding for 16 years to build the bridge. In the second phase the two further lanes were constructed on the site of the demolished bridge. This opened in spring of 1986.

The following morning work began on the demolition of the remains of the Redmond Bridge. Some of the old bridge was used for filling and other pieces were claimed for souvenir purposes. A licence was obtained from the Department of the Environment to dump the rest at sea beyond Hook Head.

A clock feature and lamp standards from the Redmond Bridge were used as part of the inner City housing renewal scheme at Closegate in Manor Street.