There's no bridge like the €12m Joe Dolan Bridge
THE family of the late music legend Joe Dolan yesterday expressed their delight at the decision to name a new bridge after him in his beloved home town.
"Joe would be thrilled," said a delighted Ben Dolan, brother of the Mullingar-born singer whose legendary white suits and husky tones wowed generations of music fans.
"He'd probably say: 'I'm singing Make Me an Island long enough, now they built a bridge across to it,'" he added with a laugh.
While the bridge won't quite facilitate island-hopping, it will join parts of the Mullingar orbital road and divert traffic from the Westmeath town, a move the council hopes will improve quality of life and increase business opportunities.
The Joe Dolan Bridge officially opens on September 6. It comes in at 19 spans made up of 171 reinforced concrete beams. At 540 metres long, with a two-lane carriageway and cycle paths, it's one of the biggest bridges in the country and was built at a cost of €12m.
Westmeath County Council made the decision this week to name the bridge after the legendary performer, whose sudden death on St Stephen's Day 2007 led to a national outpouring of grief.
Ben said the Dolan family saw the decision as "a fantastic honour" for the much-lamented singer.
"Somebody said months back that it would be a good idea, but we never thought it would come about," he said. "We definitely got a surprise."
Cathaoirleach of Westmeath County Council Mick Dollard said it was a unanimous decision to name the bridge after the county's most famous son and believes the move is "forward-thinking and innovative".
"We could have just opened the western bypass, but this is another attraction on the Joe Dolan trail."
Already visitors come from across Ireland, the UK and even from the US to have their photo taken at the life-size statue of Joe in Mullingar's Market Square, to pay their respects at his grave and visit the family pub, Dolan's, in Mullingar.