Linking North & South: Lifford Bridge

Lifford Bridge

When the town of Lifford came into the possession of Sir Richard Hansard during the Ulster Plantation in 1607 one of the conditions of the grant was that a ferry crossing be provided over the Finn river. This service continued until 1730 when the first bridge linking Lifford and Strabane was built

In the nineteenth century a curious custom existed when if, by the end of the Assizes in Lifford or Omagh courthouses, a jury could not reach a unanimous verdict in a case, they were sent to the "verge" of the county to be dismissed. In the case of counties Donegal and Tyrone, this was the middle of the Lifford Bridge. The following account was taken from the "Strabane Morning Post" of August 11th, 1827:

Patk Donnelly, indicted for the murder of John Beavers on the 1st Feb last, near Dungannon. The jury retired at twelve o'clock on Friday morning, remained in one night, and on Saturday was removed, together with the prisoner, to Lifford Bridge, the verge of the county. Upon the arrival of Justice Torrens the jury were called over, and not having agreed, the judge then discharged the Jury.

The present bridge was constructed by the well-known firm of McAlpine in 1964 and jointly funded by Donegal County Council and Strabane District Council. During the "troubles" of 1968, an attempt was made to blow the bridge up. However, it was closed for a short time only, and today is an important link in North-South communications, being the principal road linking East Donegal with Northern Ireland.

A remarkable sculpture group was erected in 2000 at the border between Strabane and Lifford, close to the bridge. Erected by Strabane Lifford Development Commission and created by Maurice Harron, it consists of 5 figures, a fiddler, a flautist, a drummer and two dancers, each 4 metres high, made of stainless steel and bronze. The group symbolise Music and Dance, two unifying art forms, representing a shared beginning for both communities, North and South.


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