UCC names new bridge after philanthropist Tom Cavanagh

Tom Cavanagh at the opening of the Cavanagh bridge at UCC. The 27-metre pedestrian bridge links Perrotts Inch to the lower grounds of UCC’s main campus. Picture: Clare Keogh

University College Cork has named its new pedestrian bridge after philanthropist Dr Tom Cavanagh — the second campus structure to bear his surname.

Dr Cavanagh, who graduated from UCC with a commerce degree in 1951, went on to have a successful career in the motor industry, and founded his first philanthropic trust in 1987, has worked tirelessly for the university for decades.

He was vice chairman of its governing body and a director of the Cork University Foundation. He also founded the Irish Business Against Litter organisation.

Speaking at the official opening of the Cavanagh Bridge over the south channel of the River Lee yesterday, Dr Cavanagh said he was happy to “give back” to the college.

“I have great memories of my time as a student at UCC. It was a real turning point in my life,” he said.

Dr Cavanagh also graduated with a HDip in 1952 and was awarded a scholarship to study in Italy.

Years later, when he was approached by former UCC president Tadhg Carey with a view to helping the university’s fundraising efforts, Mr Cavanagh said he was happy to “give back”.

In 2006, UCC named its pharmacy building after Dr Cavanagh and his wife, Marie.

The new pedestrian bridge, supported by glued laminated or ‘glulam’ timber beams, spans the south channel of the river Lee, from a point on the lower grounds of UCC’s campus below the Aula Maxima to a green space at Perrotts Inch on the channel’s northern bank, about halfway between Gaol Cross and the main entrance to UCC.

It has been installed on sloping concrete buttresses built on the opposing river banks. Arches have been designed into the buttresses to allow for the passage of flood water.

Its landing point on the college side is positioned to connect the confluence of four pathways and it is angled across the river to provide an easy continuity of east-west pedestrian flow.

The 27-metre bridge was designed by O’Donnell + Tuomey architects and will be open to the public from 8am to 7pm. The bridge was kindly supported by the TOMAR Trust.

The entire project is a key element of UCC’s privately-funded Environmental Plan which focuses on the development of new pathways, courtyards, and soft landscaping spaces.

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