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Parliamentary Gazeteer of Ireland 1845


O'Brien's-Bridge village

A village in the parish of O’Brien’s-Bridge, barony of Lower Tulla, Co. Clare, Munster.  It stands on the eastern verge of Co. Clare, on the right bank of the river Shannon, and on the road from Killaloe to Limerick, 1 mile east-south-east of Bridgetown, 2 north of Castle-Connel, 4 south-south-west of Killaloe, and 6 north-east by north of Limerick.  The bridge which gives name to the village stands across the Shannon, and has at its east end, in Co. Limerick, the village of MONTPELIER.  The arches of the bridge are 14 in number, and of various forms and sizes, from 19 to 28 feet in span; the piers are from 7 to 9 feet in thickness, and appear to have been founded upon the surface of the bed of the river, without any piling, and at different depths; and the roadway is 18 feet in width, roughly paved with pebbles, and protected by a parapet varying from 3 to 4 feet in height.  The whole bridge is built of rubble stone, in rude workmanship; yet it has, for several centuries, withstood the action of both the current and the atmosphere.  "The velocity of the current at this bridge during the month of November last," says an official report of the engineer, Mr. Rhodes, in 1832, "was upwards of 3 miles per hour, calculating 800 feet above and 750 feet below the bridge, which was performed in six minutes.  Immediately under the bridge, the velocity was 5 miles per hour, and the fall about 10 inches.  The 4 arches next the north abutment being so very narrow (viz. 19, 23, 23, and 26 feet), renders the navigation exceedingly dangerous to lives and property, and it is surprising that no more accidents happen.  Vessels laden with merchandise are obliged to stop here for a considerable time, for the purpose of being warped up through the arches by a capstern, which is placed upon a pier projecting into the river 50 feet; and by means of a block affixed to a floating buoy in the river, leading in a line with the large or fourth arch: a rope is dropped through this arch and fastened to the vessel, and being already attached to the capstern, she is by 8 or 10 men (according to the resistance of the water), hauled through the arch; this mechanical operation causes great delay, and not without serious risk.   To remedy this great inconvenience and risk to lives and property, I would propose taking down the four arches at the north end of the bridge with the land abutment, and the three intermediate piers towards the centre; to dredge the bed of the river to at least 7 feet below the lowest summer-water, and build the land abutment and track-way for horses, and a centre pier, capable of receiving two arches of 60 feet span each, composed of timber or iron.  These arches should be flat, and the segment of an ellipse which would be capable of allowing the canal vessels to pass at all heights of the river: I should also propose to take away the capstern and its pier, deepening the side of the river from the bridge to about 200 feet above this pier, and bringing the retaining wall forwards, or into the river 10 feet at the bridge, and diminishing to the present line at 700 feet upwards."  All these recommendations have not been carried into effect; but, in the course of 1844, 7 arches at the Co. Limerick end of the bridge were removed, and 6 of 27 feet span each substituted for them.  A quay 700 feet in length was also completed, and a lay-by formed. Fairs are held at the village on July 25, and Nov. 7.   Area, 20 acres.  Pop., in 1831, 350; in 1841, 435.   Houses 73.   Families employed chiefly in agriculture, 38; in manufactures and trade, 32; in other pursuits, 14.  Families dependent chiefly on property and professions, 4; on the directing of labour, 34; on their own manual labour, 41; on means not specified, 5.

See also O'Briens-Bridge parish in Parliamentary Gazeteer

The Parliamentary Gazeteer of Ireland, 1845
Courtesy of Clare Local Studies Project

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O'Brien's Bridge parish