20 October 2019
By Mary Bermingham
This bridge is unrelated to the new Cavanagh Bridge, which was also named recently
Generations have walked over it and now it has name, as University College Cork (UCC) has named the historic bridge at its ceremonial gate ‘the Alumni Bridge.’
The university’s ornate entrance gate and the Alumni Bridge leads to the university from Western Road, they were completed in October 1929. The naming of the bridge symbolises UCC’s commitment to building lifelong relationships with its graduates. Professor Patrick O’Shea, President of UCC, along with fifty alumni, one from each of the last graduating years processed this morning from the Quad to the Alumni Bridge to celebrate its naming.
Among the alumni present were husband and wife graduates, Catherine and Philip Ryan from Aghada. The Ryans met while studying at UCC, and they were photographed walking hand-in-hand over the Alumni Bridge in a photo taken by the Evening Echo in the late 1960s. The couple have now returned to campus more than fifty years later to celebrate the significance of the photo and the place that marked the beginning of their relationship.
Catherine and Philip Ryan commented, “Little did we know when we met that we would be back to UCC over 50 years later to celebrate and participate in this historic event. UCC has played a significant part in shaping our futures. We have very fond memories of the Alumni Bridge”.
UCC has 185,000+ alumni across 67 countries, speaking at the event Professor Patrick O’Shea stated, “UCC’s Alumni Bridge is a hidden gem. For ninety years, it has silently borne our students as they pass back and forth to the university. Today’s ceremony will ensure that it becomes a more visible part of our rich heritage, a place of personal and public ritual to further strengthen the bonds that bind our alumni to their university”.
Today’s bridge is the third bridge at this site, the first one was built of Oregon pine in 1879. This original structure was replaced in 1910 by another bridge which was destroyed in severe flooding in 1916. Wartime shortages of finance and materials meant there was a further delay of thirteen years before the present bridge was built. A brass plaque commissioned to commemorate the Alumni Bridge will be seen by alumni, students and members of the public passing through the ceremonial gates on Western Road.