Straddling the River Boyne, this bridge is largely of medieval date with some minor 18th century alterations and pointing that is considered to be of 19th century date. The winter of 1330 witnessed a series of violent storms which resulted in a great flood, especially along the River Boyne. Almost all of the bridges, both of wood and stone, were carried away. It has long been held that a pre-existing bridge (of whatever form) on this site was swept away and subsequently replaced by the present structure.
The following description of the bridge is derived from Potterton (2005, 195-6): ‘This bridge, which is founded on solid bedrock, consists of four pointed segmental masonry arches, each spanning c. 4.9m with a rise of c. 2.05m, the same ratio as at Babes Bridge (near Donaghmore, Co. Meath). The piers are 2.45m thick and the bridge is 6.4m wide with solid parapets finished with copingstones. There is no evidence whatsoever for post-medieval widening in any arch or pier. During the 1970s the Office of Public Works carried out a programme of arterial drainage (the Boyne Drainage Scheme) which involved lowering the bed of the river at this point by c.1.25m. The piers were left intact, perched on solid rock but, as with many other bridges affected by the scouring action of rivers, the footings of each pier were surrounded with a reinforced concrete skirt or 'pontoon', incorporating pointed cutwaters to assist the flow of floodwaters under the bridge.
The six original triangular cutwaters survive, three on each side of the bridge. The one closest to the south bank on the downstream side extends up to the level of the pavement and may once have functioned as a pedestrian refuge, as at the bridge of Newtown Trim. The remaining five cutwaters reach a level just above the arch springings and continue in the form of long, tapering, semi-pyramidal, masonry cappings, 1.7m high, reaching to the level of the soffit of the keystone. This type of capping is found on many old bridges in Meath and sometimes elsewhere.
The underside or intrados of the bridge arches are pointed segmental, of identical shape to the surviving arch of Babes Bridge. The arch rings are formed of roughly trimmed, rectangular stones varying in thickness from 7.5 to 15.5cm, and the keystones are no different from the ring stones. A second ring is faintly visible on all arches except the downstream arch on the south side. It is evident that this arch was rebuilt at some stage, and not very well, for it is still distorted and rounded at the keystone in a manner suggestive of the partial collapse of the shuttering. The springings are obscured by the cutwaters that are built into the piers up to that level, indicating that this was all constructed as a unit. The spandrel masonry is roughly-coursed random rubble. The stonework in the sheeting of the arches is also good. The ribbon pointing is probably of nineteenth-century date, and the copingstones on the parapets are neatly shaped 46 x 38 x 10cm limestone flags.’
Compiled by: Paul Walsh
Date of upload: 15 October 2015Description Source: National Monuments Service, Department of Arts, Heritage Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs.