Published Monday, 24 September 2012
It was coming close to the time when I had to stand in front of the camera and introduce the place we were going to feature in the programme, which was the parish of Urney.
It's not always easy to dream up a pithy, and hopefully engaging, statement that encapsulates the character or history of any place, and for some reason I was having difficulty getting the right form of words for Urney.
It wasn't that there was nothing to be said, far from it. The whole area was a goldmine for local historians, but it's often the case that the richer the heritage, the more colourful and complex the history, then the harder it is to sum it all up in about thirty seconds of an introduction.
Anyway there I was, dandering over the beautiful seven arches of Clady Bridge hoping the camera wasn't picking up my deep frown of desperate concentration when inspiration drove up beside me, stalled the engine and leaned out of the car window.
I was aware that this wasn't the shot that Vinny, our cameraman, was trying to capture and I was also aware that this bridge was a busy thoroughfare connecting Tyrone and Donegal, and that the traffic was already building up behind the idling motor, but none of that seemed to bother the driver who beckoned me over to him with a stern expression that brooked no argument.
"Do you know that this is the oldest bridge in Ireland?" he stated emphatically. "Saint Patrick himself crossed over this bridge and he wasn't the first to do so by any means!"
I nodded in grateful appreciation of this insight provided by a native of the area, thanked him and suggested that the people in the vehicles behind him might be getting a bit restless. He moved on, wagging an admonitory finger at me.
I actually was grateful. I had my inspiration. My opening piece was not so much about history - it was about pride! The kind of pride that makes your place, and the people who live in it, truly unique. The kind of pride you could be proud of.
Half an hour later, after we'd finally got the shot of me crossing over the bridge dodging the traffic, I stood on the bank, with the bridge behind me and began...
"I was crossing the bridge behind me over there..."