DROICHID NA HÉIREANN
In a brand new six-part series for RTÉ One, Droichid Na hÉireann tells the story and history of Ireland’s beloved bridges. Presented by actor Lochlann O’Mearáin, the series explores the history, architecture, landscape and above all the people behind these extraordinary bridges and the pivotal role they have played in historic events and in modern day society.
From road to railway bridges, viaducts to footbridges, these man-made structures have long been an integral part of our country’s infrastructure. But beyond their primary function, how much do we really know about these structures?
Travelling across the length and breath of the country, Lochlann explores century old stone bridges to modern contemporary designs from natural geological formations to great engineering feats, to reveal their hidden history and impact, far greater than just bricks and mortar.
He rediscovers the remarkable tales behind our bridges through a wealth of fascinating human stories told through expert commentary and local storytelling.
On his breath-taking visual journey through some of Ireland’s most beautiful landscapes, Lochlann ventures to the hills of Donegal to Poisoned Glen under the shadow of Mount Errigal, visits the beloved Shakey Bridge in Cork City, walks across Ireland’s longest rope bridge in Kells Bay and explores one of Europe’s first examples of a suspension rope bridge in Birr Castle. In the walled city of Derry he visits a structure that bridged communities together, he listens to a unique musical performance at Bellacorrick Musical Bridge in Mayo and travels to Connemara to visit the iconic Quiet Man Bridge. While in the midlands he explores one of Europe’s finest examples of a suspension bridge in Birr Castle and travels to the Drogheda to visit a Victorian bridge supposedly built on foundations of cotton wool.
Droichid na hÉireann explores the rich architectural and historical heritage of Ireland’s most fascinating and visually spectacular bridges
Episode 1: Dublin
In the first leg of his expedition around Ireland, Lochlann O’ Mearáin explores some of Dublin’s iconic bridges. Starting of in the leafy suburbs in the Strawberry Beds, Lochlann visits Farmleigh Bridge and learns about the inventiveness of the Guinness Family. He ventures to Lucan to discover what wildlife live under the shadow of Lucan bridge. He travels to Clontarf to learn more about Dublin Bay and biosphere. Back in the bustling city, along the River Liffey, he takes a trip to the elegant and iconic Ha’Penny Bridge. He visits the striking and contemporary harp shaped Samuel Beckett Bridge and takes to the water to marvel at the design of Spencer Dock Bridge.
Episode 2: Mayo/Galway
From the soft and craggy bog lands of Mayo to the vibrant City of Tribes, Lochlann ventures West this week. He will discover the history behind the construction of Newport Railway Viaduct, listen to a unique musical performance in Bellacorrick and learn about the famine at Bunlahinch Clapper Bridge. Lochlann travels to wild and beautiful Connemara to visit Carricklegaun Bridge in Leitir Mor and follows in the footsteps of American actor John Wayne as he visits the iconic Quiet Man Bridge in Oughterard before finishing his travels in the heart of Galway city at O Brien’s Bridge.
Episode 3: Clare/Kerry/Limerick
Starting off at the most westerly point of County Clare on the Loop Head Peninsula, Lochlann learns about the geological formation and power of the Atlantic Ocean at the Bridges of Ross. He makes a short trip to the village of Bunratty where he discovers the significance of the renowned Durty Nelly’s pub and Studdert Bridge. He learns about the Treaty Stone at Thomond Bridge in Limerick City and heads to the Kingdom County to marvel at Lios Póil Viaduct and visit Ireland’s longest rope bridge in the sub-tropical gardens of Kells Bay.
Episode 4: Cork/ Waterford
This week Lochlann heads to Ireland’s most southerly point to view the spectacular Mizen Head Footbridge and then heads to the Rebel County to learn how the Shakey Bridge acquired its name. Over the River Finisk, Lochlann visits the Hindu-Gothic Bridge at Dromana. Hopping on his bicycle he gets a taste of the Waterford Greenway whilst crossing over the Ballyvoyle Viaduct and finishes his epic adventure at the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Bridge, the longest bridge on the island of Ireland.
Episode 5: Offaly, Westmeath, Meath, Louth
On this week’s episode, Lochlann will reveal some of the most breath-taking bridges in the heart of Ireland. Starting off by viewing one of Europe’s oldest surviving suspension bridges in Offaly, he will sail along the River Shannon to gaze upon The Athlone Railway Bridge before walking across the Joe Dolan Memorial Bridge. Finishing his travels on the River Boyne where he marvels at the great engineering feat of the Boyne Viaduct and discovers if there is any truth behind the viaduct being built on a foundation of cotton wool.
Episode 6: Donegal/Derry
This week Lochlann heads north to picturesque Donegal. He will try his hand at the traditional game of handball at Bundoran Bridge, take a look at the history behind the disappearance of the Donegal railway line and catch up with musician Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh under the shadow of Mount Errigal. He will then travel to the walled city of Derry where he will sail along the River Foyle to learn about how one modern structure has built bridges between two communities.