Will the Barrow Railway Bridge ever open and close to shipping again?

This is my ongoing diary into the fate of the Barrow Bridge. The details are below but in brief here’s whats covered to date (24/5/2024)

  • July 1906 – opened to connect the new port at Rosslare with Waterford and on to the west
  • Sept 2010 – route closed
  • Feb 2022 – Bridge gets struck by an inbound ship
  • November 2022 – IE pins open the opening section and gates the bridge to any train
  • March 2023 – another ship hits the bridge
  • July 2023 – publication of the All-Island Strategic Rail Review
  • Jan 2024 – Update from Joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport
  • May 2024 – Deputy Marc Ó Cathasaigh reports on a positive meeting with the IE management in the Irish Indo

In late November 2022, disappointing news started to filter out that the Barrow Railway Bridge opening span was to be pinned open because of an operational issue. It came following an earlier threat to pin it open because of the cost of the operation- a decision that was postponed following negative community, media, and political reactions. But the rationale for the move seemed plausible to many (the timing close to Christmas was excellent I must say from the company perspective), and the opening span has been pinned open since December. But is this the end of the Barrow Bridge?

The Barrow Railway Bridge was opened as part of the works to connect the South of Ireland via Waterford to the new port of Rosslare in 1906. The last commercial train to use the line was in September 2010. The line’s viability is now being examined as part of an All-Island Strategic Rail Review. The review might potentially reinstate the railway, but there were also plans to create a greenway along the route. The opening span allows ships to access and egress from the inland port of New Ross via the River Barrow.

A screengrab of the vessel (one of the Arklow Shipping craft) that collided with Pier 3 of the Barrow Bridge on February 26 2022. Photo: Iarnród Éireann

On February 26th, 2022, a ship manoeuvring inwards through the span struck the central protective dolphin. In November Iarnród Éireann (IÉ) put out a press release covered by the Waterford News & Star. The subsequent article explained that “the span will need to be held open for marine traffic as there’s an increased risk of it becoming inoperable, thus preventing vessels from traversing through it.”

Some of the damage to the dolphins protecting the opening span

Because of the collision, IÉ stated that there was a “… real risk that in the course of movements of the swing span, the span could move and strike a passing vessel” It sounds nasty, although a bit far-fetched surely! Other points were raised, although it made no more sense to me. But please read the New & Star article yourself to make your own decision.

A forelorn sight over Christmas of the bridge pinned open, the glowing lights to illuminate the channel and the red and green flashing navigation lights showing the access point. The new bridge at the Pink Rock is seen in the background.

According to IÉ the repairs could cost between €5 million and €10 million. The funds will need to be sought from the ship’s insurers…So that probably won’t be any time soon, given that almost 11 months have now passed? The South East on Track campaign group called on Iarnród Éireann to carry out the repairs in advance of monies it’s hoping to receive from insurers, but to date, this call has fallen on deaf ears.

From Cheekpoint this January 2023. A forlorn sight to see it

The opening span of the bridge was a crucial factor in alleviating the concerns of the New Ross Harbour commissioners when the bridge was originally constructed. It’s kind of ironic that the potential death knell of this magnificent piece of Edwardian industrial heritage should be sundered by IÉ on the pretext of maintaining access to the port.

To see the skill required in transiting the bridge here’s a short video I shot in 2021

Edit March 2023: – although there is still talk of the bridge reopening to cater for, initially, freight to and from Rosslare, there is no sign of work commencing on the bridge. In fact a local chap who knew the workmen who were involved in the recent pinning opening says that all papers etc have been removed and the sense given was that this was the end as far as they knew. I got excited on the 12th of March when I saw a Belgian ship called the Pompei coming in. Obviously a work boat, I hoped that it might be about some repairs. Alas, it seems not, and worse, it struck the bridge on the way up too. Later it emerged that the ship was to be stationed off Baginbun for works associated with the new interconnector between Wales and Ireland…works are ongoing at Great Island to receive the power!

Pompei inbound

July 2023: On the week of the anniversary of the opening in 2023, Deena and I took a trip over to view the bridge, It’s now securely locked up, still pinned open, and rusting away. No further information on repair work to the opening span, or to refurbishing the line…or indeed a greenway. It’s hard not to be pessimistic about its future. See the images below of the rust.

August 2023: Publication of the draft report of the All-Island Strategic Rail Review -gave a mention to the SW Wexford line and that it is to be upgraded by 2030 to provide freight a least…I’m no expert but it all sounds a bit wishy washy

Pinned open, Tues 18th July 2023
One of four new gates – the only investment on the bridge in many a year

January 2024: In late January 2024 Deputy Marc Ó Cathasaigh was interviewed after a Joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport session in which the Waterford Green Party TD questioned Jim Meade, the CEO of Irish Rail on the company’s plans around the damaged bridge and the reopening of the rail line. Here’s what Jim Meade was quoted as saying in the Irish Independent:

“There’s no argument about liability because we have CCTV,” said Mr Meade in response to Deputy Ó Cathasaigh’s question about the bridge. “So, it’s very clear and both insurers are not just waiting for us to come back to them to say that’s the cost”.

Irish Rail intends to enhance the bridge as part of repairing it by automating it so it can be controlled centrally rather than by personnel on the bridge. “We want to automate it in the process and bring it back to our national train control centre,” added Mr Meade.

“We have outlined a whole series of works some time back. We have been working through it and we are substantially complete. We have some residual GI survey works to do but nothing major in the grand scheme of things”.

Irish Independent, 29th Jan 2024

The automation makes sense from a cost-saving point of view, but from a heritage perspective this is very disappointing to hear. It’s good to hear that the insurers are just waiting for the bill to come from IE for repairs, but why is this taking so long?

I heard the discussion and although Jim Meade talks a good talk, and makes it sound like a lot is happening behind the scenes, there is little evidence that I can see of preparation works. And what would any automation etc have to do with insurers, their liability is simply about reinstating the timber supports surely.

As much as I want to believe Jim Meade’s statements, from where I sit, watching the bridge daily it appears to be left to rust away into the river. I will keep you posted.

May 2024 – Irish Independent reported that Green Party Deputy Marc Ó Cathasaigh met with the CEO of Irish Rail, Jim Meade and Minister Eamon Ryan this week to discuss rail capital investment in the South East. “The reopening of the Barrow Bridge was a particular focus of discussion with Deputy Ó Cathasaigh requesting that the Department of Transport provide the upfront costs for the repair and reopening of the bridge with a view to recouping the costs when the insurance claim is paid out to Irish Rail by the insurance companies involved in the ship strikes which damaged the bridge. Capital repair costs to the bridge are estimated at €5m to €6 million”.

Although I do personally like Marc and in fairness he has kept the topic on the political agenda, I don’t see this as being in any way positive or offering a glimmer of hope. This time they are talking about waiting on money from insurers, in January it was the insurers were waiting to hear from IE about the cost… I might sound pessimistic, but the bridge is rusting into the river while IE waffles on. Meanwhile in Cork –

The same week in Cork – multi million euro investment in rail. Tell me you don’t care about me, without telling me!

I occasionally write small pieces for my own record that I publish on the blog. These are a way of keeping a record for myself and a very different style to my monthly heritage blogs. So if you came across this and wondered what the heck…please look at my normal stuff before rushing to judgment

Grand opening of the Barrow Bridge 21st July 1906

Today marks the opening of the Barrow Railway Bridge and the South West Wexford line. I wrote previously about the planning and construction of the Bridge which was started in 1902 by the firm of William Arrol & Co to a design by one of the foremost engineers of the time Sir Benjamin Barker.

The purpose of the railway line was to connect with the South and S West of Ireland via Waterford and Rosslare to England in an efficient manner. It radically improved the speed of crossing times to England and Wales for passengers who previously had to sail from Limerick, Cork or Waterford. 

A specific distinction is that it was the last major railway line constructed in Ireland.  The Barrow Bridge is 2131 feet long and has an opening span to allow shipping through to the port of New Ross.

A postcard of the bridge not long after it opened

Both the bridge, the line and a new pier at Rosslare, Co Wexford were officially opened on Saturday, July 21st, 1906.  Five hundred guests traveled on a special event train which started out in Dublin.  The train had twenty-one saloon carriages attached including the royal saloon in which was the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland Lord Aberdeen, who was to perform the inauguration.  It is said that it was the longest special event train ever seen in the country. 

It stopped off at Carlow, Kilkenny, and finally, Waterford station to collect further guests including the Marquis of Waterford, and then on to Rosslare via the new Barrow Bridge. 

According to a local friend, Susan Jacob, her grandmother Aggie Power (who lived in Daisybank House, Cheekpoint) was on that first train, a story handed down through the family. I do recall my late father saying that there was some connection between the family and some of the engineers working on the project and Pat Murphy has told me in the past that he understood that some men stayed at Daisybank as lodgers during the construction.

Construction workers working on the opening span, April 1905

Apparently some of the guests fainted with the fear associated with crossing the Bridge.  Well, they might be in awe, for it was by far the longest rail bridge ever built in the country at the time and would retain that distinction (and possibly still should regarding the expanse of water crossed) until Belfast’s Dargan Bridge and related works were constructed in 1994.

It might be hard now to imagine the fear that the travellers might have held in such a crossing, but it should be remembered that the designer and builder had only a few short years before completing a project to replace the largest rail bridge in the British Isles – The Tay Bridge, the predecessor of which had collapsed into the River Tay in 1879 while a train was crossing with the loss of all aboard.

A sketch I made (using a phone app) of the bridge recently looking towards the Kilkenny side

The opening span was also a concern no doubt, but passengers need have had no fear.  The opening span was operated from a control tower atop the opening, which was manned and operated via an electrical generator below on the protective pontoon.  (Mains electricity now powers the opening, but this is the only difference made to the operation that I am aware of) The operator couldn’t open the centre span unless and until signal men on both the Waterford and Campile sides acknowledged that the line was free of traffic. 

A recent shot of the bridge looking towards the Wexford side. Note the black ball to the left of the control tower, I love to see such details preserved.

Indeed initially ships would not proceed through the opening until a signal was also raised from the control tower, a black ball.  This would later include a green light when the bridge opening was extended to nighttime.  Many the time I marveled at the nerves of these men sitting atop the span as ships passed through, and I’m sure their nerves were well-tested as ships struck the bridge on a number of occasions.

Notwithstanding any guest’s concerns, the special event train proceeded onto the bridge and came to a halt halfway across to give everyone a view of the meeting of the three sister rivers at Cheekpoint.

It then continued on its way to Rosslare, where the three-masted schooner Czarina lay at anchor and the steamship Pembroke was at the pier, having sailed earlier from Fishguard with invited guests. 

As it crossed into Rosslare a 21-gun salute was fired by the local coastguard.  The new service was inaugurated from the pier by the Lord Lieutenant and this was followed by a party where several toasts were made to the good fortune of the new company. 

The freight rail service was the first to start running on the line thereafter, followed by a passenger service which came into operation on August 1st, 1906 and the first cross-channel ferry left Rosslare on Fri 24th August 1906, sailing on the SS St Patrick.

A recent video of mine of a coaster transiting the opening span (2024)

The Barrow Bridge gave over 100 years of loyal service before being closed in 2010.  Further insult was added to the structure when in December 2022, the opening span was pinned open after yet another bridge strike. It’s hard not to conclude that the custodians of our rail infrastructure wish it to just rust away – just like to Red Iron (Suir Bridge).

To read about over 100 years of incidents associated with the line, see this story above



I would like to acknowledge the following sources:
Jack O’Neill, A Waterford Miscellany. 2004.  Rectory Press
Ernie Shepard – The South Wexford Line.  Journal of the Bannow Historical Society (2013)
John Power – A Maritime History of County Wexford Vol 1(2011)

Penny wise, Pound foolish: A further threat to the Barrow Railway Bridge

This coming September marks the 11th anniversary of the last passenger train to use the SW Wexford railway line and the Barrow Railway Viaduct.  The bridge is Irelands longest rail bridge but it would appear that this September may see another regressive step taken on the railway line – plans are afoot to close off the bridge and allow a span for shipping to remain open.

The Barrow Railway Viaduct crosses the river Barrow between Drumdowney in Co Kilkenny and Great Island in Co Wexford, a distance of 2131 feet.  The bridge which opened in July 1906 was the final piece that connected the railway lines of the South of Ireland via Waterford to Rosslare Harbour and the cross channel ferry service.

The opening span and the bridge nearing completion

Plans for the bridge were drawn up by Sir Benjamin Barker and work commenced in 1902 after a tender of £109, 347 was won by Sir William Arrol & Co of Glasgow. The initial stages of the work went well.  However, the twin pillars onto which the spans were placed had to be laid on a foundation of the river bedrock.  As they proceeded out into the Barrow (from the Great Island side) the depths they had to dig to reach bedrock got ever deeper and in some cases workers had to dig to 108 feet below the mean water level. Such extra work added a cost of £12,000 to the bridge

A ship transiting through on the way up to New Ross. The opening mechanism is housed in the building at the top of the swivel section, and operated by an operator using techniques very similar to changing tracks on a rail line.

Due to the needs of New Ross Harbour Commissioners, a swivel opening span was created to allow entry and egress to the inland port. This span was constructed on 4 pillars and originally turned with an electric motor (now mains), situated on the pontoon around the pillars.  The opening pivots with an 80 foot clearance allowing ships to pass.

On completion, the bridge was 2131 feet long. It consisted 13 fixed spans mounted on twin 8-foot diameter cast iron cylinders filled with concrete. 11 spans are 148 feet long and the two closest to the opening are 144 feet. The bridge is 25 feet above high water on the spring tides. The railway is a single-track steel line, built within the protective casing of a mild steel girder frame with cross trusses to provide stability.

On the 18th of September 2010, a final special event train traveled the line before closure. The end of the sugar beet trade spelled the end, passenger numbers were already low. Many argued at the time that it was the timetable that was the issue. In the intervening years, a plan was put forward to turn the line into a greenway to try to mirror the success of other areas, not least in Waterford. Another group South East On Track has argued that there are compelling reasons to maintain the line for rail.

However recently I read that I read with disappointment an exchange between Wexford TD Verona Murphy and Minister of State Colm Brophy on the Barrow Railway Bridge, and specifically the opening span. It would appear that for pragmatic reasons the span is to be left in the opening position as a means of reducing costs on Iarnród Éireann.  Subsequent to an all Island of Ireland rail review, this may be reversed.  However, my concern is that this is misguided as a cost-saving measure for the following reasons:

Sundown on the Barrow Bridge, but hopefully not literally

1.  The opening apparatus is virtually unchanged from the system first employed in the construction in 1906.  To my mind, notwithstanding how clever such engineers were, and how remarkably resilient the turning mechanism is, will the lack of use of this may lead to its decay?  If this were to happen the cost would surely be significant, perhaps outweighing any perceived savings.

2. The opening span was never designed to be left open.  When closed it is securely fastened or locked into position on either side to the existing bridge, ensuring the optimum position for holding it in place.  If allowed open the weight will no longer be displaced but directed downwards onto the foundation, and also leaving it at the mercy of tides and wind.  Again, any shift in this swinging arm, will incur a massive cost to repair.  Has there been any independent engineering assessment of this? And if it proceeds could not some extra support be provided to each side of the track to hold it in place securely?

A recent video I shot of the ships Rose and later Eems Exe passing through the opening span of the Barrow Railway Bridge on a journey up to New Ross Port.

Barrow Bridge is still a fully functioning piece of transport infrastructure, an architectural gem, and a heritage feature. But as a country that seems to be awash with money for the right kind of project, have we progressed so little as a state that a building such as this could be threatened with such an act of sheer vandalism because it saves a few quid? The Poolbeg chimneys in Dublin, built in the 1960s, are considered a treasure worth millions to preserve. Surely a unique and functional piece of transport infrastructure deserves more consideration by a state agency and its citizens. “Penny Wise, Pound Foolish” comes to mind.

Update post-publication. As of 10 am this morning 27/8/2021, IE staff are on the bridge installing gates on the Kilkenny side, also men with hi-viz jackets on the opening span and on the dolphins below.

“Warping” the Barrow Bridge

Before ever the Barrow Railway bridge was constructed to allow the trains run from Waterford to Rosslare, New Ross Harbour Board had concerns for its positioning.  The Bridge would block access to the port and to get around this an opening span wasintroduced.  Procedures were also agreed to facilitate safe opening and closing procedures in an attempt to avert accidents(In this they can be proud as there was never a rail incident with the opening).  Another procedure which I was
unaware of until recently was a procedure called “Warping” which was aimed at facilitating a smooth passage for sailing vessels.  The procedures value was underlined, even before the bridge was officially opened.

The bridge with the opening span under construction only two months after the incident.  Note the buoy below the bridge and possibly two another above close to the cylinder stanshion
The Barrow Bridge officially opened on the 12th July 1906 facilitating a connection between Waterford and Rosslare by fording the River Barrow between Drumdowney in Co. Kilkenny and Great Island in Co. Wexford. But of course it did much more than that, as it allowed a passenger board a train in Tralee and in relative comfort get to a ferry boat for a short crossing of the Irish Sea and hence to London.  For those with an aversion to sea journeys it sure beat boarding a steamer at Limerick or Cork.
But the port of New Ross lay above the bridge and it required safe access and egress for ships serving the port. The designers facilitated this by a swing opening span.  This
presented its own problems to the ships that passed through a narrow, tidal passage.  A warping procedure was developed circa 1904, aimed specifically at sailing vessels[i] as they were at the mercy of the winds and tides. Sailing ships were required to heave to on reaching the bridge and to run a rope through two buoys, each with an eye atop.  A rope was passed through each eye by a hobbler crew and retaken aboard, effectively doubling the rope and as one was tied off the slack was released by the crew.  Then using the tide, they drifted through the opening span, controlling their speed with the rope, which because of the loop could be easily retrieved once the operation was completed.
On Monday the 13th of February 1905 however two sailing ships struck the opening span in the one tide, both apparently because they failed to employ the warping procedure.  Each had a New Ross pilot officer aboard. The Schooner Conniston of
Barrow was sailing down on an ebb tide under pilot Whelan (sometimes referred
to as Phelan) when she struck a glancing blow at a gangway which was being used
in the construction.  Following her was the schooner Ethel of Preston under pilot
Kearne.  She however struck the opening span twice.  Both incidents were reported
by the builders, William Arrol & Co., who although describing the incidents as “trifling” also expressed concerns that it could be potentially more serious.[ii]

Although the Conniston incident seems to have passed off without repercussions, the Ethel was another matter.  Her Captain, McGuirk, through the ships brokerage firm of Betson & Co of Dublin wrote to the New Ross Harbour Board to seek damages.  His position was that his ship was in the “charge of the pilot” when considerable damage was done.  One stanchion was broken and parts of the main and top gallant rails were broken too.
Pilot Kearne did not lie down under the matter however.  He submitted a written report to the harbour master, Captain Farady, confirming the incident and the damage to some extent, but argued that he was not “in charge”. Kearns explained that while coming down on the ebb tide at the White Horse Reach he told Captain McGuirk that they needed to warp through the bridge. The Captain refused however, stating that
the wind was favourable, his ship was answering her helm and he had confidence
in the wind carrying them through.
However on approaching the opening span, the wind dropped away, and the schooner no longer “answered the helm”[iii]  The Captain order the Mate to drop anchor and
as she swung on this against the tide, first the stern hit the pier head, and subsequently the bow struck one of the bridge piles.

Whether Captain McGuirk ever got compensation is not clear, certainly he got little sympathy from the Board.  At this meeting and at a subsequent one[iv], it was
considered that he had not “properly stated the case” to the ships brokers and
that the Captain was really responsible.  The pilots (four are said to be then employed) were to be warned to use the procedure whatever ships captains might say.

Needless to say that would not be an end to the incidents that befell the tight opening span of the Barrow Bridge.  I’ve written about a century of them before.
The blog will move to a new address in the coming weeks.  Stay tuned for further details. If you want to ensure you do not miss one please email me at tidesntales@irelandmail.com

Want to see the majestic structure that is the Barrow Bridge as it is today? Check it out here from Waterford Epic Locations; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=osxp6UyMV0g

Following publication John Aylward mentioned in a comment that a similar procedure was used at Timber toes in the city.  Presumably similar took place at Redmond bridge and at the Red Iron Bridge.

[i]
I’m open to correction on this point but I’ve not read of the procedure being
required for steamers
[ii]
New Ross Standard 3/3/1905. P.7 (much of the subsequent detail is taken from
the report of the harbour Board Meeting)
[iii]
A nautical term used to describe a situation when a ship cannot be steered
[iv]
New Ross Standard 4/8/1905. P.2

Barrow bridge toll

This week sees a significant local anniversary, for on the 21st July 1906 the first official train crossed the Barrow railway bridge.  The infrastructure was the last significant piece of railway network constructed nationally and it linked the west of Ireland with Rosslare and via ferry to the UK.
The railway bridge proposal had a troubled start.  Several plans were considered and rejected, including a railway link to Passage East and either a ferry or bridge crossing to Wexford.  When plans were suggested for crossing the Barrow River, linking Kilkenny and Wexford, New Ross Harbour Commissioners were also wary.  Any infringement to navigation would impact the port.  This was allayed by providing an opening span, allowing ships access and egress.  Other engineering problems remained however such as the distance between the Kilkenny bank and the Wexford side of the Barrow river, and the depth that had to be dug to, in order to meet solid foundation for many of the bridges supporting spans.
The bridge, showing the opening span, under construction.
Taken from the Kilkenny side, looking upriver. April 1905
Construction commenced in January 1902 from a depot on the Wexford side at Wellington Bridge.  Finally on Saturday 21st July 1906 a special event train departed Dublin, calling to Carlow and Waterford to mark the official opening officiated by the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland at the end of the line; Rosslare. When the line finally closed in Sept 2010, many wondered what would become of it.  Recently we have heard murmurings of a Greenway link, building on the stunning success of the Waterford Greenway.  But did you know an alternative use was proposed before? Ireland’s first toll road bridge!

Community Notice Board

Walk leader is Ray McGrath, and assisted by Michael Farrell, John Burke and yours truly
Plans were first mooted in late 1976(1) when CIE complained that the line was no longer economically viable and their board had made a decision to close the line and were looking for an option for its use.  In early December(2) “…Mr. J. A. O’Connor, C.I.E. area manager for the south-east…stated that the service withdrawal had resulted from scheduled…trains…being uneconomic…” He was quoted as saying “…Proposals have been received from private interests for the conversion of the Barrow viaduct to a road bridge and the use of the permanent way as approach roads to the bridge.” the paper continued “… It is further understood that the viaduct may become Ireland’s first toll road…”

Later in December(3) we learn that “A new company, Barrow Bridge Ltd., of which the principal partner is Roadstone Ltd., has applied to both Co. Councils for planning permission to convert the viaduct into a road toll bridge….The proposal to close the line has caused many protests in the southeast area….A committee representing trade unions catering for workers in the Thurles sugar factory, which is fighting the closure, said it was quite apparent that the board of C.I.E. had decided to withdraw passenger and freight services…”
A Munster Express article (4) seems positively disposed towards the project in the new year when we read that the project “has now taken on a new and hopeful turn…A company has been incorporated, with Waterford control, consisting of Mr. Max Fleming, Chairman; his son Mr. David Fleming, Managing-Director, with Mr. M. M. Halley, solicitor, as Law Adviser, and they have taken a lease from Coras Iompair Eireann (Irish Transport Company). Messrs. McCarthy, Engineering Consultants, Dublin, have already applied to Kilkenny and Wexford Co. Councils for planning permission”  I’m not sure what happened to Roadstone over Christmas, or were the three gentlemen mentioned connected to it?

The paper went on to outline a proposal to build a two lane roadway on either side of the bridge, with a traffic light controlled single lane crossing of the bridge. Interestingly no mention was made of Drumdowney tunnel. A toll will be charged to pay for the upkeep, and the system will be controlled, we are assured, by close circuit TV.  (As an aside, and in the context of present plans for turning it into a walk and cycle path, the article mentions that the bridge is acknowledged to have a existing to right to walk, no mention is made of tolling the walkers!)
JJ Walsh, the Munsters owner and editor hadn’t grasped the public mood however.  Taking a contrary view to the newspaper, unions, farmers, businesses, locals and public representatives swung into action in the new year.  January seems to have been a hot month for meetings, lobbying and general awareness raising. The issue made all the local and national papers and the last mention of the process I could find was from the Munster Express of February 4th(5). In this we learn that the Minister for Transport and Power, Mr Tom Fitzpatrick, is flatly denying that any decision has been taken by the Board of CIE, and that any decision would only be considered if or when the respective County Councils made a decision on planning.  I’m guessing that was when the proposal ran out of road! To be frank, given the engineering issues with altering the bridge and negotiating Drumdowney tunnel, its hard to take the proposal serious on any level.
The bridge is still one of the finest pieces of engineering in the south east, and if you have never seen it, here’s a wonderful piece of footage of the opening span in action via Joel 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iMPaYGEAHQI  
If you like the video you might give him a comment for feedback

I’ve a weak spot for the Barrow Bridge. I’ve previously written about:
Constructing the Barrow Bridge
The grand opening of the line
Closing the line in 2010
A century of Barrow Bridge incidents

(1) The earliest mention of the toll bridge I can find was October when a gentleman named Alan French had a letter published in the Irish Times drawing attention to it.  Intriguingly Mr French claimed that the reason CIE were pushing a road bridge, was that they were obliged to ensure SW Wexford had a viable transport link maintained. As they wanted clear of the line, they had run with a “ridiculous” alternative.  The closure would be a “scandal” Irish Times. October 2nd 1976. Page 13
(2) Irish Independent Friday, December 03, 1976; Page: 9
(3) Irish Press, Sat Dec 18th 1976 page 3
(4) Munster Express Jan 07 1977 page 2
(5) Munster Express Feb 4th 1977 page 2

I publish a blog about Waterford Harbours maritime heritage each Friday.  
To subscribe to get it to your inbox email russianside@gmail.com 
For daily events/updates https://www.facebook.com/whtidesntales  https://twitter.com/tidesntales