Four-Arched Limestone Bridge

One of the most striking and picturesque sights in Tuam is Shop Street Bridge. Its presence in Tuam must be valued as there are not many of its type and beauty in existence in Ireland. The four-arched stone bridge with a span of around 30 metres is a focal point in the town and it is flanked on either side with old Mill buildings and other buildings of immense Architectural and Heritage value. On the downstream side of the bridge there are green banks of land with mature deciduous trees that can be accessed by a path that links Shop Street and Chapel Lane. These areas have been landscaped and maintained over the years and the provision of some park seats provides an opportunity for the passer-by to take a break in this peaceful and tranquil haven.

The bridge was built in the 1730ís and considering that it is almost 300 years in existence it is a tribute to the quality of the workmanship carried out by the craftsmen of that time. Originally the four arches of the bridge took the flow of the River Nanny. At present only three of the arches have a flow of water. Before the bridge was built there was a ford in this place. As time went on Shop Street became the main street in the town and so the need for a bridge was apparent to cater for increased volumes of traffic [pedestrian and horse drawn vehicles] and the evolution of the motorcar. The parapet walls were not part of the bridge originally and in the middle of the 18th century they were constructed in the present position.

Blakes of Ballyglunin gave the materials for the construction of the parapet walls to the Town Commissioners. On the upstream side of the bridge the parapet consists of cut limestone copingstones supported by a balustrade of sixty-four cast iron pedestals and eight cut stone piers on a cut limestone stringcourse over a stub wall. The opposite parapet has forty-two cast iron pedestals and six cut stone piers on a cut limestone over a stub wall. Stephens Foundry in Galway made the cast iron pedestals and they have withstood the test of time well.

The Four-Arched Bridge, Shop Street.

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