A Letter From Kilkenny




Save Kilkenny protestors during the Summer (top) and Margaret O’Brien (above)

Kilkenny today.

Your town next.

Margaret O’Brien writes:

I have a very good friend …..let’s call her P. I love her. She is one of those rare people that you meet…….a person without a personal agenda. Her worldview is rooted in a deep sense of family, friends and place. She understands people by their actions, and only by their actions; she reserves judgement because circumstances alter cases.

She understands people… never by who or what they are; never by what they have; never by what they can do for her. She measures things not by how much they cost or are worth in euro signs but in the differences they make and the effects that they have on the people she loves. As I said, she is a rare individual.

I write this today because she is heartbroken, and if she is heartbroken, something is wrong, because she is the rare one among us who sees the good in everyone and everything.

It may seem trite and unimportant to some, but she is heartbroken because of a bridge….a piece of engineering…a structure of concrete and steel, like countless others throughout the world. Her heart breaks because of where it is…..because of what it means………because of how it has come to this point….because of the how it will shape the place that she loves…because of how it will effect the future of the people and place that she loves.

She is quintessentially a kind and generous person; the gentlest of creatures, confrontation and protest are alien to her nature. Yet during this last summer, she walked at Green’s bridge in Kilkenny. In her quiet way she strolled, and stood, and cried as numerous Gardai approached….as some of them whom she knew, in a previous life, as friends kneed her into her back and corralled her, tried to make her feel powerless……..to make her and others feel as if she were wrong to be there…..wrong to care about the future of those and the place that she loves.

At that time of standing up, the council maintained that this bridge, this feat of engineering, was necessary to address traffic congestion in the city. But P saw this structure not as the relief of congestion but instead as a nightmare of thousands of HGV’s rocking the foundations of all she loves and holds dear.

Later the council maintained that the bridge was necessary for pedestrians and cyclists….but this fundamentally honest woman was never convinced……to her these arguments didn’t hold up. Why build a bridge this size for cyclists and pedestrians she asked…it didn’t make sense?

Last week-end in Kilkenny a group of internationally renowned, professionally respected economists and expert commentators on development, could not between them, find even one argument in favour of this bridge.

Today I hear a council representative on the radio maintain that this bridge is necessary to ‘open up’ both the Mart and Brewery sites for development. Today’s radio revelation has not been what has been said up until now…..until now CAS, as its name suggests, has been about traffic, a narrow Greensbridge and lately cyclists…..but perhaps today, it was deemed safe to finally admit what the project has been about from the outset….. now that the ownership of the Mart site has been decided.

The Mart site is now privately owned….the proposal for the Brewery site is to lease it to private companies…..so finally it is clear. Kilkenny County Council are building a bridge, and the people of Kilkenny will pay for it… and as a result privately owned companies, and perhaps individuals, will grow their property balance sheet overnight…..and shape this city according to their profit and loss accounts…..and throw a few jobs in, if necessary for as long as agreed in the terms of the lease or planning permission, or at least for as long as it suits.

But at what price to us…..the people of Kilkenny…the businesses of Kilkenny….the unique character and soul of Kilkenny…past , present and future? Well we will have a concrete structure to look at, for as long as it lasts……but is this enough….is it all……have we even agreed to it?

My honest, unassuming and gentle friend P says that she has never has. I believe her. And yet today the street is closed and work ploughs on…..and she is heartbroken……and so I write this, because somebody ought to.

Previously: Saving Kilkenny

Thanks Padraig O’Ceallaigh

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43 thoughts on “A Letter From Kilkenny

    1. Niamh Moroney

      Are you dumb? Did you not read “getting kneed in the back? Obviously a person, dont be so dang ignorant.

      1. Dervla Kirwan

        This is not just a person. This is a deeply-emoting, pure at heart, meek and mild, salt of the earth, people-understanderer.

  1. Soundings

    “The Mart site is now privately owned”

    When was it sold, by whom, to whom, for how much, how big is it, are there buildings on it already.

  2. oblongo

    The CAS is counter to all established planning and traffic management knowledge for the last 30 years. It serves only to funnel trucks into planned big box retailers in the centre of the town. If they were serious about traffic management, they would complete the ring road. This is yet another example of the arrogant, attitude of the Government and its refusal to engage with citizens and civil society.

  3. My

    Very well written, its so true, the lies being told about how its all for the peoples benefit, when in fact it is to facilitate big business, using the people of kilkenny’s money, to help improve potential profits of investers/businesses.

    1. scottser

      it’s not well written at all. it’s mushy, long-winded and doesn’t really make a point other than some poor ould dear is upset.

  4. ahjayzis

    What a load of old shit. Condolences to her saintly, Christlike, friend on the construction of the Hell-Bridge, and the ensuing apocalypse it must surely bring.

    Get a fupping grip, seriously.

  5. Paddy

    Nice piece. Perfectly sums up the mood of many in Kilkenny. It would appear that a small cohort of powerful people in this city through bloody mindedness and lacking any long term vision are determined to carry on with this folly.
    The Kilkenomics talk in the 200 seater Set theatre on the future of the high street in Irish cities and towns with a reference to bridges going nowhere did not have one single voice in approval of the project. Pure and utter vandalism

  6. eric

    and the people of kilkenny will pay a subsidy to already wealthy individuals for the construction of a bridge to service brownfield sites, are the people of kilkenny stupid?loaded? ignorant? either way they need to wake up!!!!

    cmon the cats ….yeah

  7. Clo

    Very sad, especially on the day that the great John Bradley, a staunch defender of Kilkenny’s heritage, is being buried.

  8. Darragh Byrne

    After the Mahon Tribunal we hoped this kind of use of public money for private enterprise was no longer going to happen like this again. Fine Gael and Labour promised us in last election that this kind of misuse of public funds would not happen anymore. Now during a recession people’s hard won taxes are being spent to pay off bankers and prop up developers in NAMA but this is even a worse disgrace. An immediate investigation by Public Accounts Committee by Kilkenny TD John McGuinness or by Junior Minister Ann Phelan into Phil Hogan and members of Fine Gael and Labour have to be looked at in detail. Who owns this land? Who will profit from it? These questions need to be answered straight away.

  9. Medium Sized C

    I broadly agree with the anti-bridge agenda. Tis a lovely place and I can’t imagine the bridge will add to that.

    I don’t know P.
    In a more broad sense I don’t care about P.
    I don’t give a feck about P’s opinion.
    But that is irrelevant for the same reason those 5 paragraphs on P’s opinion is irrelevant.
    Should we give P the final say in the running of Kilkenny because she is nice?

    One person sob stories are the bane of rational discourse in modern media.
    This letter had the effect of making me less sympathetic to the writers cause.

    1. SOMK

      “One person sob stories are the bane of rational discourse in modern media.
      This letter had the effect of making me less sympathetic to the writers cause.”

      Would agree, but there is the one child in the charity ad factor, ie. that when you have in child in an ad for a charity people give more than if you have two, because they can relate more readily to one persons problem, two people seems to trigger a “I can’t help or sympathise with more than one person” effect. So in certain respects that’s useful, but this is a daft bit of writing, the whole “she’s a good local person, who just cares for her beautiful town and really hates bridges”, fupp me with a fountain pen, it stinks of projection (I’m too humble to say this of myself, but I’ll say it about this other person, who I won’t name, because obviously their opinion regarding bridges is soooooo controversial) and reads like a discarded draft for a mass card.

      So what if it’s being built for private companies, is that in and of itself a bad thing? What’s your critique of capitalism, so is it Leninist? MMT? or NIMBY?

      1. Dee

        I think the big deal is that a town is being vandalised for the benefit of… whom? what? We don’t even know.

        1. ABM's Bloodied Underwear

          And the townsfolk are being charged for the construction? (If I read that right)
          While the benefit goes into someone else’s pocket.

          Sounds familiar.

  10. Darragh Byrne

    This is a disgrace. The real reason they are building this bridge is to service private developers? Horrific! When people can’t afford food because of taxation by Phil Hogan to build it. John McGuinness and PAC need to investigate the council in Kilkenny immediately.

  11. Brendan Cahill

    Excellent but,sad. Reminds me of stories of people going for an operation and are paralyzed by the anesthetist but still wide awake in terror of the impending operation

    1. Well that's that

      Get a grip!! This bridge will not end the world. Things will continue, Kilkenny will be fine.

  12. everybody

    ‘It would appear that a small cohort of powerful people in this city through bloody mindedness and lacking any long term vision are determined to carry on with this folly.’

    This perfectly describes what is going on in Kilkenny.

  13. Dee

    This scheme – in all its various guises – has been consistently opposed for almost 40 years, and for good reason. This road and bridge will not make Kilkenny a better place. It might potentially make life easier for, let’s say, a new supermarket operating on one of the sites the road would serve. That, and destroy irrevocably, the unique character of Ireland’s supposed medieval capital – the little gem that is Kilkenny. Those stubborn and shortsighted local mercenaries who support this nonsensical scheme will not be forgotten, and deserve to have their names permanently chiseled into the stone cladding that the engineers have chosen in all their creative and original wisdom. They might as well pebble-dash the Castle while they’re at it.

  14. Mr. T.

    I know of town councillors (not Kilkenny) years ago who voted to rezone land in exchange for apartments. I can’t prove it but I know it’s true. I know one of the people who took an apartment in their name on behalf of their uncle, a councillor.

    Goes on all over Ireland, all the time. Nothing is changing.

  15. Fundlebuggy

    I have a good mate. Let’s call him C. He is one of those people you rarely meet, a person of no agenda. His worldview is rooted in a deep sense of family, violence and Heineken. He understands people by their hats and only their hats. He reserves judgement because he doesn’t know what it is. He never understands people by who they are, where they are, what they are or where they have been, nor indeed by what they say to him or the Garda uniforms they wear or how much they shout at him or anything.

    As I said, he is a rare individual.

    And now the government want to build a bridge near his house. Bastards.

  16. Cromwell

    I must be on the wrong page ? Is this the No Name club ? I may as well join in ………Just call me Cromwell. . Does someone want a bridge demolished ?

    1. Frenchfarmer

      A few sacks of sugar in the cement mixers and it’ll fall down by itself.
      No need to risk any flying debris.

  17. Not Gerry Adams

    Destroy all the bridges

    Return Kilkenny to its pre-civilisation state

    Let people ford the river when it is shallow

    Let them look upon the might of mother nature when it is full

  18. Tamara

    Lovely piece, think some of the comments are heartless ruthless and down right ignorant, they must be on executives councils, who have to much bloody power We all need bridges , but not this one , wrong bridge, wrong place , it,s just wrong

  19. CunningJungler

    “The whole educational and professional training system is a very elaborate filter, which just weeds out people who are too independent, and who think for themselves, and who don’t know how to be submissive, and so on — because they’re dysfunctional to the institutions.” Noam Chomsky. Excellent piece. Uplifting whilst heartbreaking. I have a friend P too, she reminds me of yours and these are the people who the systems and institutions weed out, but they have begun to band together and in the immortal words of Mr. B Dylan The Times they are a Changing :)

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