Cork City

South Gate Bridge

So called because it was on this bridge stood the gates to enter the city from the south. This bridge marks the site of the very first river crossing, erected by the Vikings in the 9th century, which would have connected their settlements on the marshy island to the dryer ground of the present Barrack Street area. This was the first stone built bridge built on the south channel of the river; all the previous bridges were built of timber. The western section of the bridge, facing St. Finbarr’s Cathedral, is the original section built in 1713 by John Coltsman and Thomas Chatterton. The eastern side dates from 1824 when the bridge was widened. This section was designed by Alexander Deane and a look at the underside of the arches will clearly show the two different portions of the bridge which makes it unique among the bridges of Cork. (The oldest complete bridge in the city is Clarke’s Bridge, dating from 1776). On the northern side of the bridge stood the South Gate Prison. Prisoners who were sentenced to death would have been led up Barrack Street to be executed on Gallows Green, present day Greenmount. Some prisoners would have been led through the main street of the city from the North Gate Prison and executed at the South Gate; their heads would then have been put on spikes set in blocks over the prison gates. It has the oldest surviving three-centered arches in Ireland. It was reinforced in the early 1990s to cope better with the volumes of traffic travelling over it each day.

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