Community celebrates opening of the new Old Bridge

Eamonn Wynne

Eamonn Wynne

The people and business community of the Old Bridge in Clonmel have been praised for their patience and understanding while the bridge linking the area with the town was closed from January 2011 until the end of last month.

That praise came from the town’s first citizen, Cllr. Billy Shoer, at the official re-opening of the bridge on Sunday afternoon.

The work on the bridge was part of the overall Flood Relief Scheme, which has been fully funded by the Office of Public Works (OPW) with an overall investment in the region of €40 million, providing protection to the town from flood waters from the river Suir in a 1-in-100 year event.

The Mayor was assisted in cutting the ribbon by the two oldest residents of the Old Bridge, Mary Cooney and Eddie Looby, as well as Philip Dunne, one of the drivers who ferried the residents to and from town while the bridge was closed.

The Clonmel West portion of the scheme started in spring 2008 and was completed by the contractors, SIAC Construction in July 2010. The Clonmel North and East section commenced in October 2010 under Ward and Burke Contractors and is nearing completion.

The sun came out in time for Banna Chluain Meala’s arrival on Sunday and the celebrations continued with a demonstration by pupils of Alison Cronin’s Dance Centre. On the way over to the green for refreshments there was a surprise in store for the attendance when giraffes from the Shellikybookie street theatre group appeared to the delight of young and old.

The Sliabh gCua Ramblers kept the festivities going, with a short break for the awarding of the garden competition prizes, while face painting in the marquee kept the younger people occupied. The local community is grateful to Bernie Mac’s Emigrant’s Rest and Ely’s Centra for their support.

The Mayor also thanked former Minister Martin Mansergh, who approved the scheme and guaranteed funding for its completion; the Flood Steering Committee, which comprised elected members of South Tipperary County Council, Clonmel Borough Council and Waterford County Council, who were regularly updated on progress on the scheme; the OPW staff including Cian O’Donaill,Cyril McCarthy, Monica Lyons and Declan Coyle; Mott McDonald Consulting Engineers project, managed by Barry O’Connor; Jim Hanly, senior resident engineer and his staff; local man Liam Boyle and Mary Flynn, who worked on the bridges; retired and present staff of the Borough Council including Billy Doyle, Jonathan Cooney, Michael Hayes and Ger Walsh; Kenneth Hennessy Architects, who designed the etchings of the glass panels on the bridge on behalf of the OPW; and John O’Donoghue and Sons who provided the bus service during the closure 7 days a week, and especially the drivers Philip Dunne and Nicky Byrne.

Locally the feedback on the event has been very positive, with many suggesting that there should be more community events. Anyone with any ideas should contact the Old Bridge Community Association via the secretary, Mieke Muyllaert, tel. 052-6127930 or 086-8272037.