BY KIERAN O’MAHONY
SECTIONS of Bandon’s famous, and now dismantled, footbridge have been salvaged and will go on display in the West Cork Heritage Centre.
John Hurley, along with Billy Good of Bandon’s Historical Society, acquired part of the bridge that features an original plaque from when it was erected in 1908.
They approached Tony Lowe from Wills Bros contractors about salvaging some parts of the bridge, which he agreed to.
Billy said: ‘We cannot thank Tony and the team who went beyond the call of duty to preserve and donate a section of the footbridge.
‘If it wasn’t for Tony’s enthusiasm, all could well be lost.’
‘We have about 20 feet of the actual railings and one of the cross beams which has the name “John Buckley Contractors 1906” marked on it. ‘They were the firm who put the bridge up in 1908, which was constructed in a foundry in Belfast.’
John added that the sections are being stored in a safe place until they can properly examine and decide what to do with them.
Located on North Main Street, the West Cork Heritage Centre is housed in the former Christchurch building that dates back to 1601.
It is volunteer-run, with a team of 10 turning to the fundraising website, GoFundMe, to raise €10,000 to preserve the building.
It’s a popular attraction for visitors to the town with many coming there to trace their ancestors through the Bandon Church records on site there.
John, secretary of the Centre, said: ‘It was suggested to us to try this type of fundraising so we are just testing the waters to see if people will respond to it.’
The money they hope to raise will go towards installing handrails on the stone steps, installing heating, as well as developing a conservation plan for the Centre, which is open from May to September.
John said: ‘This beautiful building needs to be maintained and preserved. If we had the funds to do these improvement works, then we could extend the use of this building as a public space for exhibitions, readings, small recitals, movie screenings and theatre productions and more.’
He added that all government grants required matched, or at least partial, funding before they were made available to assist with conservations. See www.gofundme.com/bandonheritagecentre for more details of the fundraising initiative.