Lismore Bridge

The Down Survey maps show a ford five miles upriver from Lismore and a bridge at Cappoquin in the 1650's. Another crossing at Ballyduff is indicated around this period, but no crossing at Lismore. This is in large attributed to the diminished importance of Lismore after it was burned in 1645. Its fortunes revived when the fifth Duke of Devonshire inherited the castle and large estates in 1753. Ryland's History of Waterford, 1824 states that it was erected "at the sole expense of the late Duke in 1775 and is 100 ft in span of arch". The six-span design is attributed to Thomas Ivory, the noted 18th century Irish architect, and built by Messrs. Darley and Stokes. Ivory's interest in long spans probably developed by the 60ft. span of Clarke's Bridge erected across the Lee by Hobbs in 1766. The cost of the Lismore project, according to the Duke of Devonshire's agent in 1781, was in the order of £7,200. There was no public road before the erection of the bridge as it was wholly on the estate of the Duke of Devonshire.

On 3rd November 1853, major flooding damaged bridges in counties Cork and Waterford. The wooden structure at Ballyduff, some four miles from Lismore, was completely carried away in the torrent. Lismore bridge was badly damaged too, yet Thomas Ivory's main arch spanning the river endured, and in 1858 sections of the bridge were rebuilt. The inscription on the plaque misleadingly gives the impression that the whole bridge had to be reconstructed, and reads: "1858 / Lismore Bridge / Rebuilt / C.H. Hunt and E.P. McGee Contractors / Charles Tarrant Engineer." The Waterford Co. Council report on bridges, 1918 records that "Lismore Bridge was 24ft. and 4in. wide overall" and had seven arches. The main arch, Thomas Ivory's 1775 original, incorporates distinctively different masonry from the rebuilt 1858 land arches, and this evidence of different stone being used in separate projects is clearly evident in the parapet and spandrel walls. Ivory's arch remains today a remarkable and noteworthy example in the history of Irish masonry bridges.

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