North Gate Bridge : Cast-iron bridge

North Gate Bridge: Castiron

In this photograph we see the old North Gate Bridge as viewed from Bachelor's Quay.  John Francis Maguire, mayor of Cork, opened the bridge on St Patrick's Day in 1864.  It was made of cast iron, a choice of material which caused some controversy as many people favoured the use of stone.  Rankin & Company of Liverpool fabricated the cast iron.  Sir John Benson designed the bridge and Jerome J. Collins, a civil engineer and an artic explorer, supervised the building.

Collins died on an expedition in the Siberian Arctic in July 1881.  His body was eventually taken to Hamburg and from there to New York.  In New York his remains and the remains of his fellow explorers were given a public funeral. Collins's body was then brought for burial in the family grave in the Curraghkippane/Currykippane (Currach Cheapán) graveyard near Cork.  He was buried in the graveyard on 8 March 1884.  His funeral route is said to be the longest on record, nearly 14,000 miles / 22,500 kilometres.  The present day Griffith Bridge replaced the cast-iron bridge in 1961.  Griffith Bridge is named in honour of Arthur Griffith who played a very important role in Ireland's struggle for independence.

 North Gate Bridge / Droichead an Gheata Thuaidh

Griffith Bridge / Droichead Uí Ghríofa

North Gate Bridge: Eighteenth century

North Gate Bridge: Eighteenth century

A copy of an illustration of North Gate Bridge in the eighteenth century by Nathaniel Grogan.

The multi-arched bridge shown in the illustration leads to a gatehouse with a central archway.  The upper storeys of the gatehouse functioned as a jail.  Historians suggest that a portion of the old North Gate Prison may have survived until 1927.  A photograph in the city engineer's scrapbook for 1927 shows the gable end of an old house near the North Gate Bridge which bears a striking resemblance to old drawings of the prison. The Cork Archives Institute has a copy of the scrapbook.

The North Gate and South Gate bridges were built of wood until the early years of the eighteenth century. The wooden bridges were replaced in 1639 by bridges again built of wood after a flood in 1630 swept away the existing bridges. The architect John Coltsman is believed to have designed the first stone-built bridges.

There were three main bridges in Cork in medieval times.  One in the centre linking the north and south islands stood somewhere in the vicinity of the junction of North Main Street, South Main Street, and Castle Street. It disappeared when the central channel dividing the north and south islands was filled in during the eighteenth century.  The other two principal bridges had occupied approximately the same sites as the present-day North Gate and South Gate bridges.

North Gate Bridge / Droichead an Gheata Thuaidh

Download these images in PDF format from the links below:

North Gate Bridge (158KB)

North Gate Bridge, Eighteenth century(430KB)

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