The famous shake in Cork’s landmark Shakey bridge will be retained, engineers have insisted.
The reassurance came this morning as the first section of the iconic near century-old pedestrian suspension bridge was removed from the heritage structure as part of an major €1.7m repair and conservation project.
As Lord Mayor Cllr John Sheehan joined onlookers on the banks of the Lee to watch it being dismantled, David McCarthy, the contracts manager with engineering firm, Keating which is overseeing the project, said while it’s difficult to quantify the shake from an engineering perspective, the restored bridge will “most definitely shake”.
“It’s a suspension bridge, so there is always going to be some movement in it just by the nature of the structure,” he said.
A team of engineers working from a barge used a pulley system to lower a severed bridge section onto the barge. Three other sections will be removed using the same technique over the coming days.
They will be transported to a facility in Nenagh for grit-blasting, conservation and repainting.
The bridge towers will be wrapped, repaired and repainted in situ, before the old suspension cables are removed. New suspension cables are being made in Italy.
It is hoped that the bridge will be reassembled by Easter 2020.
Mr McCarthy, a UCC engineering graduate, said he and the firm are delighted to be associated with such a unique project.
“There are a lot of eyes on this project. We are used to operating in this field - there’s pressure but we’re up to the job,” he said.
Lord Mayor Cllr John Sheehan said while there was an air of sadness watching the bridge being dismantled, there was also a sense of hope.
“It’s a very special day for the city because the shakey bridge is synonymous with Cork,” he said.
“Generations of people have crossed it, including myself, and jumped up and down and felt the shake as you go along.
Historian and Cllr Kieran McCarthy, who called repeatedly in recent years for the bridge to be restored, said the work really needed to be done.
“Cork has over 31 bridges, but this is the one held in most affection," he said.
“People love this bridge. It has given so much enjoyment to people. It is part of the cultural DNA of the city.
“It’s hard to describe what it means to people, with memories of people jumping off it, photographing it, just walking across it and making it shake - it is part of who we are in Cork.
“I have no doubt that James Daly, who financed the bridge, didn’t realise that 93 years later that the bridge would still be there, and there would be such a hullabaloo about it.
“I’m sure that what will be restored will be what it was like when it opened in 1926.”
Noreen O’Connor, who has used the bridge daily for several years on her walk from Shandon to the Mardyke, said it’s been part of her life for a long time.
“I had a lump in my throat, just thinking about it, watching it being dismantled. It’s the beginning of a new period in the history of Cork. It’s an historic occasion. It’s part of the fabric of the city,” she said.
And she said the shake must be retained.
“When the elements are at their fiercest, you can really feel the earth responding, and the bridge responding to the elements. The shake is part and parcel of what it means to cross a suspension bridge,” she said.
The near 60-metre span Daly's pedestrian bridge, as it's officially known, is a single-span steel suspension bridge over the north channel of the river Lee, linking Sunday's Well to Fitzgerald's Park, and opened in 1927.
Part-funded by butter merchant James Daly, it is Cork's only suspension bridge and is Ireland's only surviving pedestrian suspension bridge of its type and age.
The repair and conservation project will include landscaping works on the north and south side of the bridge and lighting improvements in the area.
The project, which is being funded by Cork City Council and the Department of Transport, involves experts from RPS Consulting Engineers, JCA Conservation Architects, Corrosion Solutions and Inspections Services, with engineers Keating, who built the recently installed Mary Elmes bridge.
Daly’s bridge is included on the Record of Protected Structures and is recorded on the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.