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Achill bridge problem

Achill bridge problem

Anton  McNulty

A BOAT seeking to go through the Michael Davitt Bridge which connects Achill Island with the mainland had to wait for three days before it was able to pass through because the swing bridge could not open.
Last Monday the boat was travelling from Blacksod to Clew Bay for essential repairs and, because it was not seaworthy to travel around Achill Head, it chose to sail down through the  Sound between the island and the mainland. A request was made on Monday for the bridge to be opened, but when Mayo County Council staff tried to open it they were unable to do so because the metal had expanded due to the recent hot weather.
A number of efforts were made to open the bridge, without success, and the boat had to berth at Achill Sound. Fitters from Castlebar were brought down during the week and, after an amount of work was done on the bridge, it was eventually opened early on Thursday morning when the temperatures had cooled and the metal had contracted.
The Michael Davitt Bridge was first opened in 1947 to replace the original bridge but in the last number of years there have been problems with the mechanism of the bridge, which has led to incidents similar to what happened last week. Mayo County Council has given its backing to provide a new swing bridge for the island but are awaiting the sanctioning of funding from the Department of the Environment and the Department for the Gaeltacht.
Cllr Micheal McNamara told The Mayo News that the incident which happened last week vindicated the need for a new swing bridge and he has been told by people involved with the bridge that it is ‘on its last legs’.
“The old bridge is corroded and the report on it said it is not able to open or close more than 12 times a year. It needs to be replaced with a new swing bridge. The bridge is obviously on its last legs and we do not want to have another situation where boats are parked up for three or four days before they can pass through,” he said.
Cllr McNamara said that he has spoken to Minister Eamon Ó Cúiv, who gave his word that money would be made available for a new swing bridge and he is confident that the funding will be sanctioned soon.