21 June 2022
By Mary Bermingham
Named in honour of former Councillor, Businessman, and ‘man of the people’ Dan Joe Fitzgerald R.I.P. (1950-2016)
A new boardwalk, designed to provide a safe way for pedestrians to cross the River Blackwater, has been officially opened in Mallow. The ribbon on the 130-metre-long walkway, Cllr. Dan Joe Fitzgerald Boardwalk was cut by the Mayor of the County of Cork, Cllr. Gillian Coughlan, Mary Fitzgerald and the Chief Executive of Cork County Council, Tim Lucey on Monday, June 20th 2022.
The segregated boardwalk runs along the length of Mallow Bridge and at three metres wide is designed to safely and comfortably accommodate pedestrians, wheelchair users and people pushing buggies. An additional lane has also been created on the bridge giving extra capacity and reducing the journey time for vehicles travelling across it.
Mallow bridge has been inexistence for more than 400 years with the early timber structures dating back to 1615. The first stone bridge was constructed in 1712 and despite being damaged by the Great Flood of 1853, four of the arches remain. The bridge spanning the river today was reconstructed with four new arches in 1856 and carries approximately 15,000 vehicles every day.
The boardwalk has been named in honour of former Councillor Dan Joe Fitzgerald. Popular localman, businessman and politician, Dan Joe was first elected to Mallow Town Council in 1994 and to Cork County Council in 1999 where he served until his death in March 2016.
The Mayor of the County of Cork, Cllr Gillian Coughlan said,
“Cllr. Dan Joe Fitzgerald gave many years of devoted service to Mallow and north Cork. He has been described as a man of great integrity, a man of the people and was incredibly well respected. I believe naming the boardwalk in his honour is a very fitting tribute. Thousands of vehicles drive over the bridge every day to access Mallow Town Centre. However, each of the bridges that stood here were built well before the arrival of the first motorcar in Ireland and with pedestrians, horses and carts in mind. I am delighted that the new boardwalk puts the focus on pedestrians once again, ensuring that they can safely walk into Mallow Town Centre separate from the busy traffic.”
Chief Executive of Cork County Council, Tim Lucey added,
“The Cllr. Dan Joe Fitzgerald Boardwalk is a wonderful addition to the town. I would like to commend all involved in this challenging project. Mallow Bridge is a protected structure and the boardwalk was designed to minimise the visual impact upon the bridge. It also has two sections built in 1712 and 1856 with different alignments and curvatures which required precise surveying and manufacturing. The work was also carried out over water and adjacent to live traffic which added to the difficulties. The boardwalk forms part of ambitious plans that are coming to fruition for Mallow. The new playground and restoration of the walled garden in Mallow Castle grounds are now complete with a new pedestrian bridge and pathways in the lower park. Spa House has been renovated and is being used as a public office. Planning has also been granted for improvements to Mallow Town Park and the feasibility assessment on the Mallow to Dungarvan Greenway is progressing and should be finalised by the end of the year. Its an exciting time for Mallow.”
An old bridge plaque discovered 30 years ago, has been refurbished and relocated to the boardwalk. It commemorates the reconstruction of Mallow Bridge in 1856 and states that the project was funded by the Grand Jury, the predecessor of the County Council at a cost of £3,145.
The War of Independence Monument has also been moved from the bridge parapet to a new amenity area on the northern approach. This allows for the stone cross, which honours the Republican Volunteers from Mallow, to be viewed in a safe space away from moving traffic.
The Boardwalk Project was funded by Cork County Council, the National Transport Authority, and the European Regional Development Fund/Southern and Eastern Regional Programme 2014-20 managed by the Southern Regional Assembly.