Home » Tired Famine bridge collapses

Tired Famine bridge collapses

by Seán Maher

Droichidin, or little bridge, a stone construction built in 1847, has finally collapsed after serving a local community for a lifetime.

 It was one of three historic bridges, two in the townsland of Ballynooney in Mullinavat and one dividing the parishes of Mullinavat and Tullogher where the adjoining townsland of Ballynooney and Ballymartin were joined. 

Built by bare hands during the Great Famine, An Gorta Mór, a time of starvation, disease and emigration that shrunk the population by millions between 1845 and 1849, it finally gave up the ghost. 

Mr Green, he of Greenville and it’s Mills in Kilmacow was in charge. He was an agent of Great Britain Authority locally and paid, according to records, a penny a day for hard labour, 

The three bridges were generally built on roads leading nowhere. In time the Droichidin served a route to Listerlin and eventually to New Ross. 

From dawn to dusk people worked on these famine relief schemes. There was mass emigration. Soup kitchens helped, but the landscape changed in terms of population figures. 

Families emigrated, leaving their small tenant holdings, never to return. Some field names still carry family names. 

The Droichidin was perfectly built, stone on stone, cut with chisel and held by bare hands. It was put in place with a key stone, works of art, skill and craft, all to fall apart with continuous heavy traffic. 

If only these stone bridges could talk, they would certainly tell our authorities that they needed a lot of tender, loving care many years ago.

They would cry out, please help us; we are carrying too much weight. We were used only to horse and cart and human fee. 

We were hungry for a long time and when the M9 was constructed, lots and lots of traffic passed over us, we were going more and more into the little stream, we tried to keep up our bridge as long as we could, but we had to let go. 

Our lovely chiselled stones; our beautiful arch was just not good enough.

It is being replaced by a mass concrete floor which is fair enough and hopefully will stand for as long as the stone arch bridge it is replacing. 

The bridges were not merely a method of transport, they were and are a memorial to those who worked so hard  constructing them with workmanship that lasted almost 175  years.  

Related Articles