There have been calls for an urgent health-and-safety audit of Cork’s iconic Shakey Bridge amid fears it could be one shake from collapse, writes Eoin English.
Historian and city councillor Kieran McCarthy said it was shocking to see one of the city’s best-known landmarks and tourist attractions — the city’s only suspension bridge, famous for its wobble — decay to such a dangerous state.
“Urgent action is required before we have to make the sad call to close it off to the public completely,” he said. “That would be a shame.”
As talks continue over the city’s 2019 budget, he plans to ask the city council’s chief executive, Ann Doherty, to urgently identify and set aside funding to repair the bridge which was officially opened 90 years ago.
Daly’s Bridge is a 48m-span wrought-iron suspension pedestrian bridge which was built by a London-based company over the northern channel of the River Lee in 1927 to a design by former Cork City architect Stephen Farrington.
Its construction at the site of an ancient ferry crossing was funded by butter merchant John Daly, who was asked to provide money to help build a bridge to facilitate increased pedestrian traffic coming from the Sunday’s Well area of the city to cross the river to the Mardyke.
It was officially opened in April 1927 and quickly became known locally as the Shakey Bridge, because of the movement or wobble in its wooden slat platform caused as pedestrians cross.
This quirky feature made it one of the city’s must-see tourist attractions.
It is in constant use by people visiting Fitzgerald’s Park and by students crossing from the northside of the city to the Mardyke to access UCC’s sports facilities, its Western Gateway building, and its main campus.
An inspection report over five years ago highlighted corrosion to its iron latticework, prompting calls for repairs. Those calls have been repeated over the years, but funding was never secured.
The corrosion has steadily worsened and the rust has eaten through several bars on the bridge’s railings, exposing dangerous gaps. The ironwork at key joints crumbles to the touch.
Mr McCarthy said it has now become a serious health-and-safety issue.
“Cork has many bridges, but Daly’s Bridge is celebrated in the city’s historical life. People have a strong affection for it,” said the Independent councillor.
“It’s very disappointing to see how it’s been left to decay like this. I wouldn’t like to see the bridge closed, but from a safety perspective, we may have no option.”
He said UCC has invested millions in developing its Mardyke sports campus, and that the city council has invested millions in revamping nearby Fitzgerald’s Park and revitalising the Mardyke area.
“As the economy picks up, and as funding becomes available, we must prioritise investment in Daly’s Bridge,” said Mr McCarthy. “It would be a terrible shame if the bridge was closed off for lack of investment.”
Last week, city officials unveiled major restoration and repair plans for St Patrick’s Bridge, which will be funded by Transport Infrastructure Ireland, and they said they are trying to identify funding streams to carry out the necessary repairs to Daly’s Bridge.
This story first appeared in the Irish Examiner.