Monday, 12 October 2009

Wexford Road Trip - The Bridge

After the disappointment of finding a modern Wexford Bridge on our first night in the city, I started my quest for the old one at the tourist information office the next morning. When I asked about the old bridge, the woman behind the counter seemed pleasantly bemused, but directed me about half a mile upriver "next to the yacht club" but warned me that all that was left of it now were the ends each side of the river.
We took a stroll along the quay next to the fishing boats now pulled up for the day, and passed the shops, the Bullring Square with its statue of the Pikeman to commemorate the 1798 rebellion, we passed the railway station... and seemed to be heading out of town.
There was no sign to the old bridge, but a right turn off the main road took us to the yacht club ... and there we were. The south-eastern end of the bridge was an extension of the yacht club car park. No plaque or memorial. I took a few pictures and wondered why the bridge, the site of so many executions on both sides, seemed to have been forgotten... and why it was so far out of the town centre.

The question was answered when I later took a proper look at the new bridge and its commemorative plaques.

The 1790s bridge which I had been looking for stood on the same site as the modern bridge. The ruined bridge I had found earlier was an 1850s replacement - it had played no part in the rebellion hence no-one had marked its demolition.
The other plaque marked the most notable persons to have been executed on the bridge. Amongst the names
on the Loyalist side was Samuel Atkin from Wendy Rutter's Fitzhenry-Atkin family of Oulartwick. Amongst the names of the United Irishmen was Dr John Colclough, the brother in law of Jeremiah Fitzhenry, one of the leaders of the Rebel forces.

Here are the transcriptions of both plaques:


1795 Timber bridge constructed on this site by Lemuel Cox of Boston
1827 Bridge repaired and strengthened after storm damage

1856 Replaced by a new bridge constructed 3/4 mile upstream by Pierce Brothers

1959 Prestressed concrete bridge constructed by Ascon Limited

1997 Replaced in 10 weeks with steel structure

Main contractor Ascon Limited

Consulting Engineers: John B Barry & Partners Limited

During and after the insurrection of 1798
Wexford Bridge was the site of many executions

Some ninety Loyalist prisoners

were put to death, among whom were
Edward Turner, Magistrate; David Dalton,
Thomas Ganford, Samuel Atkin,

Francis Plumer, William Baubier,

Benjamin Sunderland, George Sparrow,
John Smyth and Kenneth Mathewson.

Amonst the sixty-five United Irishmen

executed were the leaders Beauchamp

Bagnal Harvey, Dr John Colclough,

John Kelly, Cornelius Grogan, Patrick

Prendergast, Fr. Philip Roche, John

Herron, Edward Frayne, Esmond Ryan

and Matthew Keugh

Why not subscribe to this blog and get the updates sent to your inbox? Or send us an email about your Fitz(-)henry family links.

No comments:

Post a Comment