New lease of life for local landmark

BILL BROWNE

Published 19/12/2013 | 05:26

CORK County Council has been asked to give the green light to an ambitious plan to breathe new life into one of Fermoy's most important and recognisable historical landmarks.

CORK County Council has been asked to give the green light to an ambitious plan to breathe new life into one of Fermoy's most important and recognisable historical landmarks.

The Avondhu/Blackwater Partnership has lodged a planning application to convert the abandoned Carrigabrick Viaduct straddling the River Blackwater into a pedestrian walkway and viewing platform.

Known locally as 'The Red Bridge', the viaduct was built in 1872 as part of the Fermoy to Lismore railway line. Immortalised in the 1966 film 'The Blue Max', the viaduct has lain idle since the closure of the railway line the following year.

Since then numerous plans have been proposed for the protected structure, but until now none of them have ever come to fruition.

The recently submitted planning application makes provision for the removal of the concrete block wall at the western side of the viaduct the repair and restoration of railings along its length, the installation of seating and entry gates and new path surfacing.

As restoration and excavation work at the ruined Carrigabrick Castle would prove cost-prohibitive, the proposed new walkway will only be accessible from the Rathealy Road.

It is intended that it will create a spur for the Avondhu Way, part of the pan-European E8 Long Distance Path, a walkway that stretches from Romania to Cork.

Should the planning application be successful, Avondhu/Blackwater hope to begin work on the viaduct next spring, with a view to opening it to the public in late 2014 or early 2015.

As this week's meeting of Cork County Council Northern Committee, engineer Tom Stritch confirmed the authority was in negotiations with Avondhu/Blackwater and CIE regarding the acquisition of the viaduct and surrounding lands.

The initiative was warmly welcomed by councillors, with county Mayor Cllr Noel O'Connor (FG) saying it had the potential to turn the viaduct into a key tourist attraction.

"As a Fermoy native, I am delighted at the prospect of this welcome new addition to the town. This new amenity will serve to highlight the natural beauty of this part of North Cork and open it up to the wider public," he said.

Cllr Frank O'Flynn (FF) said great credit musts go to the partnership and Cork County Council for their combined efforts to bring the project to fruition.

"I have no doubt but this has the potential to become the jewel in the crown for the Avondhu region," he said.

Corkman

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