Community group bids to have Fermanagh's oldest bridge listed
Published: 13 Jul 2012 13:000 comments
The group, along with the support of Killesher Community Development Association has approached the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) in order to have Arney Bridge listed.
The listing process to date has revealed some interesting facts about the bridge, one of which is that it is believed to be the oldest in County Fermanagh, built as long ago as 1650 as part of the Plantation of Ulster.
A map dating from 1685 shows the bridge carrying a road from Kinawley to Enniskillen castle.
The NIEA carried out an initial survey of the bridge earlier this year and the Association was delighted when it was decided that a second survey should be undertaken as soon as possible.
This new survey will include a physical check on the bridge, an accompanying photographic survey, and an examination of research material on the history of the bridge and its use by the community over the years.
The benefits of getting the bridge listed are many not least of which is a requirement that it will be preserved to certain heritage standards.
Over the years it has incurred extensive damage in at least two places, particularly where the walls of the parapets were hit by army and police vehicles in the 1950s and 1970s.
CCA believe that as the oldest bridge in Fermanagh, it projects a rich historical legacy for local communities and indeed the County in terms of its age, unique design and as a communication route between Enniskillen, Bellanaleck Arney, Florence Court, Killesher and beyond.
Sean Cox, the Chairman of CCA said: "From an architectural point of view the old bridge is most unusual, as it curves for its entire length where it spans the River Arney. It has three arches and four recesses built into its walls to allow for the safety of pedestrians when vehicles pass. "Its construction came about as part of the building programme associated with the Plantation of Ulster, and it is believed that the bridge was possibly built on the site of the ford synonymous with the battle of the Ford of the Biscuits .
"The bridge subsequently carried the old coach road from Enniskillen to Dublin and was the main road south until a new road was constructed two hundred years later, some four miles to the east.
"Arney brick was manufactured by local people in the fields around the bridge before being loaded into cots and transported by river and lake to Enniskillen for sale. Local fairs were held at the bridge and Arney village, now in ruins, housed the families of brick makers. The Kingfisher cycle trail crosses the bridge and the area around it has of course been wonderfully documented by the ethnographer and academic Henry Glassie in his book Passing the time in Ballymenone. Clearly the old bridge has played many important historical, cultural, economic and social roles in the life of the local community and county."
Jenny Magee, the Secretary of the CCA believes the bridge should be preserved for future posterity.
But the group is calling upon the help of the local community to ensure this objective is realised.
"It appears that there are only a handful of other bridges of similar design and age in Northern Ireland," she said, "However, we are not taking it for granted that the bridge will be listed because it has been badly damaged over the years, so we have to persuade the NIEA of its importance, past and present, to the life of the community.
"This is where we need the help of local people. Through research in the public records office in Belfast and Enniskillen library we have found out that it will probably never be known exactly when the bridge was built as written records are rare before 1700.
"However, recent memory is also an important way to collect research so we are appealing to people in the area to lend us any photographs that they may have of the bridge, or of events that they were involved in or around it such as fishing or just gathering there of an evening! There used to be a fair at Arney Bridge many years ago and Gaelic football was played in the field next to it so photographs or artefacts of these events, or of old Arney Village in Mullanavehey and brick-making would be particularly welcome. Any muskets, shot, cannon or swords found in the locality and given on loan would be a real bonus!"
Mr Cox ensures that all photographs will be copied and returned safely, as will any artefacts loaned to the Association.
"Stories of course cannot be lent or copied but we would be delighted to capture these as well," he said, "So please don't hesitate to contact us should you have any. The support of Killesher Community Development Association to have this beautiful old bridge listed is very welcome indeed, as is the support from Fermanagh District Council. It demonstrates the fondness and importance that local people attach to the bridge, and their desire to see that it gets the protection and appropriate refurbishment it deserves."
For further information contact Sean Cox on 66348553 or Barney Devine on 66349710.
Commentscomments powered by Disqus
Get more stories from our Roundup section
7 Mar 2014 15:00
Fermanagh Trust @FermanaghTrust Taxes do NOT cover the cost of Children’s Hospice @NIHospice but do fund play parks, business support services, airport hangars, etc WHY?
7 Mar 2014 13:00 • Editorial Department
ROARING engines and squealing tyres may become a thing of the past in Hollyhill link car park after Fermanagh District Council teamed up with the PSNI and Road Service to tackle the problem.
7 Mar 2014 11:50 • Editorial Department
Police are releasing an efit image based on a description of a man they would like to speak to.
7 Mar 2014 11:00 • Lily Dane
Pictured 50 years ago are Mrs. Florence Carrothers, Saloon, Ballinamallard (on right) and Miss Dorrie Foy, of Wheathill, Derrygonelly, who share the Hassard Cup as they were equal in gaining the greatest number of points in the home baking section of the County Show.
7 Mar 2014 10:00 • Rodney Edwards
SINN Fein’s Phil Flanagan (pictured) has described the behaviour of some financial institutions as “disgraceful” after he was charged £168 for four failed direct debit payments by his bank.
7 Mar 2014 09:25
Holders Enniskillen Town Utd will have to overcome Junior Cup semi-finalists Lisnarick if they are to book their place in the quarter-finals of the Impartial Reporter Mulhern Cup.
6 Mar 2014 21:20 • Rodney Edwards
Firefighters are dealing with a blaze in Donagh tonight (Thursday).
6 Mar 2014 21:00 • Julie Kenwell
DIRECTOR of this year’s Enniskillen Drama Festival says he fears for the future of the event on the eve of its opening night.
6 Mar 2014 19:00 • Rodney Edwards
Spake: “There must be a funeral... there are cones out.”
6 Mar 2014 19:00 • Julie Kenwell
MENTION the term domestic abuse and often the stereotype that comes to mind is a struggle between a male and female in their home.
6 Mar 2014 18:00 • Editorial Department
An armed robber been jailed for three-and-a-half years for holding up the Halifax Bank in Enniskillen using a machete.
6 Mar 2014 17:00 • Rodney Edwards
DUP Councillor Bert Johnston cried “I paid the price” during a lively Council debate on Monday night after a Sinn Fein councillor claimed he had been involved in a fracas many years a go in which “somebody got a kick in the ass.”
6 Mar 2014 16:00 • Editorial Department
FERMANAGH District Council has rejected a proposal by one of its councillors who suggested that it helps Erne Rovers acquire a football pitch.
6 Mar 2014 15:30 • Rodney Edwards
AT least three people in Fermanagh regarded as ‘on-the-run’ have received a so-called secret letter from the Northern Ireland Office, it has been claimed.
6 Mar 2014 15:30 • Editorial Department
The on-the-runs (OTR) issue ought to have been relatively straightforward.
6 Mar 2014 15:30 • Rodney Edwards
A prospective UUP Council candidate has defended himself after he called Sinn Fein MLA Gerry Kelly “scum” and a “tramp” on Facebook.
6 Mar 2014 15:05
Enniskillen Olympic triathlete Gavin Noble is to take a step back from ITU Racing this season as he pursues a career with Specialized Bikes, the Enniskillen man taking up the position of Global Sports Marketing Manager for Triathlon for Specialized.
6 Mar 2014 14:00 • Rodney Edwards
TEMPERS flared in the Council Chamber this week over a proposal to erect commemorative signs at commonwealth war graves in Breandrum Cemetery in Enniskillen.
6 Mar 2014 14:00 • Mark Conway
Century TV, for whom former Impartial Reporter journalist Graham Little runs the Northern Ireland operation, will be the host broadcaster for the world famous Giro D’Italia which comes to Northern Ireland in May.