Patrick Sarsfield was an Irish soldier who served in the Williamite War (1689-1691). Link He commanded the cavalry at the Battle of Aughrim. (Wikipedia) This battle took place on July 12th, 1691. It was a significant defeat for the Jacobite forces. The French commander was decapitated by a connonball. Having spent the night of the 12th in Loughrea, on the 13th Sarsfield and his troops passed St Clerans. He crossed the bridge that has borne his name since then.
The Sarsfield Bridge
We do not know when the bridge was built . . probably about 1600. By 2012 it was in a state of near collapse.
The foundations had been underminded by the current.
There were ash trees growing in the bridge itself. Their roots were prising the stones apart.
There was a hole in the carriageway. The river could be seen through the hole.
Some of the facing arch stones, the voussoirs, had fallen into the river.
First, the river had to be diverted. To do that a temporary dam had to be built.
Then the real work began. The restoration masons were restricted to using first the stones from the bridge itself. If they could not be found they used local limestone. The only other materials used were sand, lime and water . . nothing else.
The bed of the river had been paved but much had been swept downriver and had tyo be retreived. The cutwaters had to be completely rebuilt.
The tree roots waere growing completely inside the structure of the bridge. The major roots were removed.
The bed of the river was repaved. Finally the temporary dam was removed and the river flowed under the bridge once again.
It was time to drive a vehicle over the bridge again.
Winter came with heavy rains. Although the water level rose and rose, the Sarsfield Bridge handled it with ease.
Now it is good for another 400 years.
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