New bridge safeguards future of Mizen Head Signal Station Centre
AFTER defying gravity for ninety-nine years and providing visitors to the Mizen Head with a magnificent sight, the arched footbridge linking the Mizen Lighthouse to the mainland was replaced with a replica €1.8 million bridge that will be re-opened on St Patrick's Day.
Almost one hundred years after the original was completed in 1909, work - that was jointly funded by Fáilte Ireland, the Commissioners of Irish Lights and Cork County Council - began on the rebuilding project.
The announcement that funding would be made available for the project came as a huge relief to the members of the Mizen Tourism Co-operative, who spent many years worrying what was going to become of the amenity after it was deemed unsafe in 2005.
Throughout its 100-year history the bridge - which was the first of its kind in the country - had been subjected to extreme weather conditions and, over time, the steel arches had become corroded by sea salt.
The decision to build a new bridge in its centenary year not only ensured the survival of a national landmark, it also safeguarded the future of the Mizen Head Signal Station Centre - a tourist attraction that draws 60,000 visitors each year.
The Mizen Head Signal Station Centre, which has been open to the public since 1994, is a key tourist attraction in West Cork: It, and the adjacent award-winning Maritime Museum, provides valuable local employment.
In 2005, the future of the amenities were given a reprieve when temporary works were carried out by Cork County Council and the Commissioners of Irish Lights, who shared the €100,000 cost of extending the life of the bridge by five years.
The exact cost of the newly completed project is €1,875,873, of which Fáilte Ireland contributed €1,475,873, with the remaining €400,000 coming from Cork County Council and Irish Lights.
Because of its spectacular location on high cliffs overlooking the swirling tides of the Atlantic Ocean, a visit to Ireland's most south-westerly point always leaves an indelible impression.
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