Cork’s newest bridge looks set to be named after a woman thanks to the public after four leading female historical figures were included on a five-name shortlist.
US labour activist, Mother Jones; Ireland’s Oskar Schindler, Mary Elmes; Irish Red Cross advocate, Leslie Price de Barra; and legendary ballet dancer and teacher, Joan Denise Moriarty, will all be considered alongside republican volunteer, Donnchadh de Barra, in the new naming process for the Harley Street pedestrian-and-cycle bridge at a special council meeting next month.
The five names were chosen from a long-list of suggestions from the public - the first time the public has been formally invited to get involved in the naming of a piece of public infrastructure in the city.
Councillors were told on Monday night that 92 submissions were received and that 35 names emerged, with suggestions including Rory Gallagher Bridge, Merchant’s Bridge, The Provisional Republic Army Crossing, The Rebels' Bridge, SHARE Bridge, The Corkonians Bridge, Legends Bridge, The Myrtle Allen Bridge, the Irish Sign Language Bridge and Boole Bridge.
That list was assessed and considered by the council’s party whips in recent weeks who in turn whittled the list down to the recommended shortlist. That shortlist was revealed at Monday’s full council meeting where it was agreed that those names will now go forward for further consideration at a full council meeting on February 25 when the bridge name will be chosen under an agreed process.
On the night, each councillor will be given an opportunity to identify their preferred nomination from the shortlist. The two names with the highest number of preferences will then be voted upon for the bridge name.
In the event of a tie, the Lord Mayor, Cllr Mick Finn, will have the casting vote.
FF Cllr John Sheehan, who led calls almost two years ago for the bridge to be named after a woman, repeated that call: “We have over 20 bridges in Cork City and all but one — the Nano Nagle bridge — are named after men. I would like to start to rebalance that."
Construction of the €5m Harley St pedestrian-and-cycle bridge over the northern channel of the Lee, between Brian Boru Bridge and St Patrick’s Bridge, is well advanced.
The bridge itself has been made off-site by Thompsons of Carlow and will be transported by truck for final assembly in Cork Harbour.
The finished superstructure will be placed on a barge and transported up-river to the city centre towards the end of April, when it will be lifted by crane into place during an overnight operation.
It is hoped the structure will be ready for use by June. Once open, the structure will link Merchant’s Quay to St Patrick’s Quay, landing on the northern quays at Harley St, alongside the Metropole Hotel. It is expected to carry up to 11,000 pedestrian and cyclists a day.
Funded by the EU and the National Transport Authority, it has been designed to improve pedestrian and cycle connectivity between MacCurtain St and the city centre. Following an international design competition, ARUP Consulting Engineers and Wilkinson Eyre Architects were chosen to design the bridge.