WOLFE TONE STREET – ST FRANCIS BRIDGE
Despite many protests and legal objections the St Francis Bridge in Kilkenny was opened in 2017 after massive cost overruns. The new bridge provides a direct route for cars and heavy vehicles right through the “Medieval Mile” of the city, splitting St Canice’s Cathedral from the rest of Kilkenny.
Kilkenny has four main bridges – Green’s Bridge, John’s Bridge, the Ossory Bridge and the St Francis Bridge. – and two pedestrian/cycle bridges – the Lady Desart Bridge and the Ossory Pedestrian Bridge. Each of the bridges spans the River Nore.
Green’s Bridge, also known as the ‘Great Bridge of Kilkenny’, crosses the River Nore in St. Canices Parish in the townland of Gardens, and is an important element of the architectural heritage of Kilkenny City. First built before 1200, the bridge has been rebuilt several times since the twelfth century due to flooding, including the great floods of 1487 and 1763. The present-day bridge was built in 1766 after the ‘Great Flood of 1763’. It was built by William Colles (c. 1710–70) to designs prepared by George Smith (1763–67), a pupil of George Semple (c. 1700–82).
John’s Bridge connects John Street to Rose Inn Street in Kilkenny City. It was first built after 1200, and has been called ‘John’s Bridge’ since the Middle Ages. It has also been rebuilt many times since the twelfth century due to flooding. During the flood of 1763, people gathered on John’s Bridge after Green’s Bridge collapsed. John’s Bridge also collapsed, and sixteen people died. The present-day John’s Bridge was completed in 1910 and spans 140 ft (43 m) across the River Nore. It was reputedly, at the time it was completed, the longest single-span reinforced bridge in Ireland or Britain. The design was by Mouchel & Partners using the Hennebique system of reinforcement. The arch consists of three ribs, tapering from 2 ft 6 in (0.76 m) to 2 ft (0.61 m) deep. The traverse deck beams are each 2 ft (0.61 m) deep.
The Ossory Bridge, linking the ring-road, was completed in 1984 and features an inlaid sculpture. St Francis Bridge was opened in May 2017, and forms part of the Kilkenny Central Access Scheme. The scheme and the proposed building of the new bridge was the subject of some debate and protest in Kilkenny in 2014.
Lady Dysart Bridge and Ossory Pedestrian bridge are the city’s two pedestrian/cycle bridges. Lady Desart Bridge was opened in January 2014 and links John’s Quay and Bateman Quay and is located between John’s Bridge and Green’s Bridge. The Ossory Pedestrian bridge, located underneath the main Ossory bridge, links the Canal Walk on one side of the River Nore to the Lacken Walk on the other side.