East Cork Paddy’s were among an army of Pats, Patricia’s, Patricks and Patrice’s who braved the inclement weather last Saturday 16 March to celebrate the 158 Birthday of a Cork City landmark. 158 Dressed in St Patrick’s costumes invaded Patricks Bridge to take part in the ultimate St Patrick’s Festival photo to celebrate the €1.2 million restoration of Cork’s St Patrick’s Bridge.
Patrick John Delaney from Castlemartyr, Pat Quinlan from Ballintotis along with Pat Scallan from Whitegate and Pat Day from Cobh were among the large group that attended.
Three generations of Buckleys from Glasheen and Bishopstown were also amongst the fun-loving crowd. Grandfather, Patrick Buckley, his son Patrick and grandson, 7 week old, baby Patrick were all decked out for the historic event.
Another Patrick who claimed he had to be there was 12 year old Paddy Linham, the grandson of a former Lord Mayor of Cork, Brian Sloane.
Special Olympics silver table tennis medallist, Pat Dorgan was also in full St Patrick regalia while Patrick Joseph Lynch was celebrating his 80th birthday when he met with the other 157 Paddys at the Metropole Hotel before the event.
All those gathered had responded to a public call-out by Cork City Council for participation by people named Patrick or Patricia - in any language. Young and old were welcome and the first 100 at the Metropole Hotel picked up a free St Patrick costume to wear in the picture and take home. Entertainment for the afternoon was provided by the irrepressible Rebel Brass.
A formal bridge opening ceremony also took place on the bridge later when a commemorative plaque to mark the restoration was unveiled. The trowel that was used to lay the bridge’s original foundation stone 158 years ago was used to lay the last piece of stonework in the ceremony (loaned by Cork Public Museum). Provincial Grand Master of the Munster Freemasons, Leslie Deane also brought the spirit level that was used in the bridge’s construction and which to this day lies at their Lodge on Tuckey St. Bishops John Buckley and Paul Colton performed a joint blessing of the bridge. The Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr Mick Finn, elected members and senior management from Transport Infrastructure Ireland, who funded the project in conjunction with Cork City Council, were also in attendance.
As part of the project, Cumnor Construction cleaned, repointed and repaired the stonework on the 19th century heritage bridge. Specialist repair and restoration work was undertaken on the bridge’s lamp columns and additional damaged lamp columns, that were found in storage, were refurbished and put in place. The bridge’s footpaths and carriageway surfacing were also replaced and new road markings put in place. Existing traffic lights, elevation and architectural lighting and signage were all upgraded.