The new €1m Tyrconnell Bridge in Donegal Town was officially opened today by Cathaoirleach of Donegal County Council Cllr. Seamus O Domhnaill and Cathaoirleach of Donegal MD Cllr. Micheal Naughton.
The iconic bridge which is also known locally as the Iron bridge and the Green bridge has been expertly rebuilt with elements of the existing structure restored and blended with the new construction to form a genuine replica of the iron bridge that is fit for modern road users requirements.
This bridge, which is listed on the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage, was originally constructed in 1895 by the contractor W.J. Glen C.E from Stranorlar costing £1,600. This four-span road bridge over River Eske and the New Row Road was built as part of the infrastructure for the narrow guage rail network that made up the County Donegal Railway to transport goods from the local harbour to the County Donegal Railways rail station.
Cllr. Micheal Naughton, Cathaoirleach of Donegal MD says that this bridge holds an important place within Donegal Towns historic streetscape nestling between the castle and Church of Ireland church. “This was a complex project and a very important project for the people of Donegal Town. This bridge is part of the towns fabric and in designing this new bridge a lot of factors had to be taken into account. For instance the architectural heritage and the importance of designing a replica structure, the status of the River Eske as a Special area of conservation (SAC), the need to take into account modern design and loading standards, pedestrian links as well as the practical the long term maintenance of the structure.
“I would like to commend the team involved in the design and construction of this project including our own staff in Donegal County Council as well as designers Roughan O Donovan and contractor L&M Keating”.
Cathaoirleach of Donegal County Council Cllr. Seamus O Domhnaill also acknowledged the help and assistance from various organisations including ESB, Openeir and ENET as well as the Inland Fisheries Ireland and the National Parks & Wildlife Service saying “because of the help and assistance of the various personnel from different organisations we were in a position to deliver this complex project both on time and within budget. This bridge has stood the test of time for generations and has played a very important role in the life of Donegal Town for many years. Through this investment it will continue to play an important role linking some of the most historic parts of this beautiful town and I am confident that it will stand the test of time for future generations.”
The new bridge has a 125 year design life, is 30m long and constructed from 6 plate girders and has 4 individual spans 6m in length, 3 river spans and 1 over New Row. The bridge is supported on original sandstone ashlar abutments and piers and has been designed to closely match the original bridge. The existing masonry sub structure has been repaired with matching materials and traditional methodologies with new locally sourced sandstone copings.
During construction historical items were found within the structure including a rat tail wrench and a chisel buried within the piers and these items have been donated to the Donegal County Museum and now form part of the Museum Collection.
In keeping with the historical nature of the bridge a Time Capsule has been placed in the South End of Tyrconnell Bridge. The Time Capsule used is in fact the metal box which was previously attached to the North end, West side of the original bridge. This box is constructed of solid steel and the time capsule includes a bottle of Tyrconnell Whiskey for good luck, copies of newspapers, photographs of Donegal County Council staff directly involved in the project and key staff from all the contractors.
The time capsule was locked with a marine grade padlock and entirely surrounded in concrete. The key is part of the Donegal County Museum Collection. It was placed at the South end of the bridge, near the East side on Friday, 4th January 2019. XYZ coordinates at the top of the Time Capsule are: Easting is 192953.749; Northing is 378551.285; and Elevation is 6.502.
Judith McCarthy from Donegal County Museum believes that this is a great way to celebrate the rehabilitation works of the bridge saying “by placing these items in the time capsule, it forms a piece of the history of this bridge, the project workers and of this community. I hope whoever opens the time capsule will get a good sense of what life is like in Donegal Town in 2019 and the importance of this piece of infrastructure to the town. The key for the padlock is in the Donegal County Museum Collection, in case future generations are looking for it!”
The official opening of the Tyrconnell Bridge took place this morning in Donegal Town. (Photos: Clive Wasson)
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