Tag Archives: Limerick Leader

Two Limerick footbridges

The Black Bridge at Plassey has long had a place in the hearts of Limerick people. It was damaged in the floods of 2009 and has been closed to the public ever since. Limerick Council says it can’t afford to repair it. Limerick Council is, as far as I can see, in breach of the terms of its lease of the bridge from the Department of Finance; the Department of Finance could, but has chosen not to, insist that the Council repair the bridge.

In the meantime, the Minister for Finance, for reasons best known to himself, wants a new, er, iconic footbridge in Limerick city and is prepared to spend €6 million of taxpayers’ money, via Fáilte Ireland, on a structure that can scarcely avoid blocking some of the finest views in the city.

Now, the Limerick Leader tells us, the ghastly edifice is to cost almost €18 million: €6 million from the Minister for Finance (who represents Limerick), €4 million to be borrowed and €7.8 million from the leprechauns’ pot of gold under the thorn bush. Or somewhere. Even Fianna Fáil councillors think this is insane, which is saying something.

This ridiculous proposal should be abandoned immediately and a much smaller sum should be spent instead on repairing the Black Bridge as part of a European Route of Industrial Heritage.

The Minister’s €6 million is a gift-horse that should not only have its teeth inspected: it should be taken out and shot and its carcass sent to the burger factory.

For the record

The Limerick Leader article about a proposed Limerick river bus has some statements that do not accord with my understanding.

The venture will see the river bus depart Guinness Pier – across from Athlunkard Boat Club at O’Dwyer Bridge – every two hours, bound for the power station […].

As far as I know, the pier in question was the Ranks jetty and was not used by Messrs Guinness. The Eclipse Flower, and other vessels owned by Ranks and their predecessors, sailed up the Shannon from there rather than attempt the stretch from Baal’s Bridge to Custom House Quay.

The boat will follow the route taken by barges of old – both passenger and commercial – some of which historically transported Guinness to the city up until the mid-1960s.

“It is a tried and tested route,” said Mr Flynn, stressing the viability and safety of the route, which passes Long Pavement – the edges of which have been repaired and grassed over – and finishes at the hydro-electric plant.

“Every passenger and commercial barge that came to Limerick for 50 years used that stretch of water. It is very safe. It was navigated by all the barges,” he said.

The route to Limerick through Ardnacrusha came into use only after the construction of the power station in the 1920s and was used for a little over thirty years. To the best of my knowledge, there were no passenger services in those years: passenger carrying stopped in the first half of the nineteenth century, when traffic was still using the old Limerick Navigation. There have been some trip-boats in recent years, but they did not (and do not) use “barges of old”. Some old barges, now converted and with more powerful engines, have safely navigated that stretch, but they do it when conditions are right.

During the final phases of Ardnacrusha’s construction, both old and new navigations were closed; the Grand Canal Company (GCC), the main commercial carrying company, ran to Killaloe and had its cargoes carried onward by rail to Limerick. When the new route through Ardnacrusha was opened, the GCC thought it was so dangerous that it refused to use it for about a year. It resumed operations only when a boom was put across the river above Baal’s Bridge and posts were provided upstream of O’Dwyer Bridge to which barges could tie while waiting for suitable states of the tide.

I accept that the proposed river bus will not be going downstream as far as Baal’s Bridge, but it will still be navigating on a stretch of water where Waterways Ireland advises that boats should not navigate when more than one turbine is running at Ardnacrusha. The ESB can run up to four turbines, each of which is said to add a knot to the current, and it can switch them on immediately, with no warning to any boat using the river.

Other pages on this site make it clear that I share the promoters’ enthusiasm for Ardnacrusha and the canal and river thence to Limerick. I do not say that the difficulties of that stretch cannot be overcome, but I do not think that they should be dismissed.