Poorman’s Bridge in Shanahoe is to get a €100,000 facelift this year, thanks to a grant from the Department of Transport.
The money was announced as part of Minister Leo Varadkar’s 2013 roads budget. The news was welcomed by his Fine Gael colleague Cllr John Bonham from Borris-in-Ossory.
“Now maybe it’s a bit better off,” quipped Cllr Bonham, who says the at one stage it was a toll bridge, with a charge of a ha’penny to cross it.
The seven arch masonry bridge is a protected structure, built in the late 1700’s. Recent increased traffic and an overgrowth of trees and shrubs have combined to cause damage to stonework on the bridge.
The restoration work will be undertaken by Laois County Council’s own road crews, who will be working within guidelines set by the National Parks and Wildlife Service, and Inland Fisheries Ireland.
“We are hopeful that the work will take place this year,” said council engineer John O’Donohue.
He said much of the work will be at the base of the bridge, and the road itself was structurally safe.
A survey from 2007 noted that “tree growth threatens the bridge’s structural stablility”, and said the bridge was “of regional industrial heritage significance”.
Traffic has increased in recent years, causing further damage.
“There are a lot of bushes and trees growing on it. This bridge was built for the horse and cart, but with the motorway, trucks are going over it and have dislodged stones. It needs repairs and repointing,” he said.