Bridge inspections are priority

By Dan Walsh

Many roads and bridges in the Enniscorthy district are marked for inspection and survey following the torrential rain that fell on Christmas Day and Executive Engineer Neil Dempsey updated members at last Monday’s monthly meeting of Enniscorthy Municipal District Council held under Covid-18 guidelines at the Presentation Centre, Enniscorthy. Cathaoirleach Cllr Cathal Byrne presided.

Mr Dempsey said work has started at the bridges of Kilcarbery and Finchogue and will commence at Ballybrennan in a week or two. At Ballybrennan the Ballinavary Bridge, which is open to traffic, will be inspected but a substantial portion of the wall at the road junction was swept away. There are also enormous amounts of debris in the river area including an extra-large tree across the River Boro opposite the old quarry complex.

A large section of a wall and entrance to a field at Ballybrennan was completely swept away in the Christmas Day floods.

Mr Dempsey added that the Council had meetings with the fisheries and bridge engineers and work on clearing the debris has started. A preservation order has been submitted to the Department in relation to Kilcarbery and Wilton.

Mr Dempsey assured members that progress is taking place, but it is a slow process and water levels are still quite high and hampering works like under bridge inspection.

Cllr Kathleen Codd-Nolan noted the importance of inspecting all the bridges in the district. “Some are not in great nick and potentially dangerous,” she concluded.

Cllr Barbara-Anne Murphy thanked the Council workers for responding to the appalling conditions that befell the district on Christmas Day and their commitment to the public in the days that followed, and she hoped that the district would get “a really good allocation” to complete repairs to roads and bridges.

In other matters relating to poor road conditions. Cllr Jackser Owens reported the situation at Peg’s Lane in Ballyboy, Ferns, and he also noted weeds overgrowing at Killagoley. “There is no footpath now and the area is dangerous for pedestrians,” he added.

Cllr Aidan Browne drew attention to the “poor performance of some street lights” and the engineer agreed to pursue the matter future.

BALLINAVARY BRIDGE has been connecting the parishes of Bree and Davidstown since 1865 and it continues to serve that important purpose.

HISTORY ADDENDUM; Today I visited Ballinavary Bridge, an area I would have been familiar with while growing up in Bree, and, using modern technology managed to decipher the barely legible stone plaque that reads; ‘Ballinavary Bridge, 1865’.

It is an impressive single arch, and a short distance away is a smaller arch that used to carry the millrace to serve Wilton Mills. It still carries water having separated from the River Boro at Ballybrennan Bridge on the road past the grotto to Ballymackessey, however, I’m told that it no longer continues towards Wilton Mills, but rejoins the River Boro short of the ruins.

Wilton Mills, although in the townland of Ballinavary, built as a flax mill by Charles Pounell in the mid-1800s. It was never an enormous success and was sold to the Kennedy family who used it to grind corn and saw timber and it later passed to the Murphy family. Power was served by a waterwheel that was eventually sold for scrap.

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