Friday, October 28, 2011

Thomond Bridge

Thomond Bridge, one of the earliest built bridges in Limerick, connects King John's Castle to the Clare side of the Shannon where the Treaty Stone resides in Thomondgate. The bridge was originally built in 1185 on the orders of King John and is said to have cost the hefty sum of £30! It is said to have had 14 arches with a castellated drawbridge at the 7th. In order to keep the bridge in repair, a toll was imposed on all who used it.

However, as a result of poor workmanship the bridge collapsed in 1292 causing the deaths of 80 people. Soon after, the bridge was rebuilt with the addition of two gate towers, one at each end. The structure which stands there today was taken down in 1838 and redesigned by brothers James and George Pain at a cost of £10,000. The bridge has remained unchanged since 1840.

Despite the number of deaths, which occurred on the bridge in 1292, there is a fictitious tale, which awakens more fear in the locals. "Drunken Thady and the Bishop's Lady", a legend created by The Bard of Thomond, Michael Hogan, tells the story of an alcoholic named Thady. In the tale we are told of Thady's unchristian deeds such as being an atheist, a drunkard and starting rows in the local pubs. The parish priest tries everything to convert Thady but to no avail and instead warns him of the looming threat of Hell. Thady takes no notice and continues to cause trouble until one dreadful Christmas Eve night.
After just starting a punch up nearby in Hayes's pub, Thady runs towards Thomond Bridge through a thundering snowstorm. This was a very unwise decision, as everyone knew, including Thady himself, of the danger of The Bishop's lady who haunted the bridge and Castle Street. Making it safely across half way Thady began to relax when suddenly she appeared!

                                                           "He saw her face grim, large and pale, 
                                                             Her red eyes sparkled through her veil
                                                             Her scarlet cloak-half immaterial-
                                                             Flew wildly round her person aerial."

He made futile attempts to grab the poltergeist but her airy nature was intangible to his mortal being. And as punishment for his sins she cast Thady over the side and into the roaring Shannon below. To this day one can still find the vague scratch marks his nails made on the wall as he attempted to save himself from a watery grave.

By CM (11136995) 

1 comment: