We took a stroll along the quay next to the fishing boats now pulled up for the day, and passed the shops, the Bullring Square with its statue of the Pikeman to commemorate the 1798 rebellion, we passed the railway station... and seemed to be heading out of town.
There was no sign to the old bridge, but a right turn off the main road took us to the yacht club ... and there we were. The south-eastern end of the bridge was an extension of the yacht club car park. No plaque or memorial. I took a few pictures and wondered why the bridge, the site of so many executions on both sides, seemed to have been forgotten... and why it was so far out of the town centre.
The question was answered when I later took a proper look at the new bridge and its commemorative plaques.
The 1790s bridge which I had been looking for stood on the same site as the modern bridge. The ruined bridge I had found earlier was an 1850s replacement - it had played no part in the rebellion hence no-one had marked its demolition.
The other plaque marked the most notable persons to have been executed on the bridge. Amongst the names on the Loyalist side was Samuel Atkin from Wendy Rutter's Fitzhenry-Atkin family of Oulartwick. Amongst the names of the United Irishmen was Dr John Colclough, the brother in law of Jeremiah Fitzhenry, one of the leaders of the Rebel forces.
Here are the transcriptions of both plaques:
1795 Timber bridge constructed on this site by Lemuel Cox of Boston
1827 Bridge repaired and strengthened after storm damage
1856 Replaced by a new bridge constructed 3/4 mile upstream by Pierce Brothers
1959 Prestressed concrete bridge constructed by Ascon Limited
1997 Replaced in 10 weeks with steel structure
Main contractor Ascon Limited
Consulting Engineers: John B Barry & Partners Limited
During and after the insurrection of 1798
Wexford Bridge was the site of many executions
Some ninety Loyalist prisoners
were put to death, among whom were
Edward Turner, Magistrate; David Dalton,
Thomas Ganford, Samuel Atkin,
Francis Plumer, William Baubier,
Benjamin Sunderland, George Sparrow,
John Smyth and Kenneth Mathewson.
Amonst the sixty-five United Irishmen
executed were the leaders Beauchamp
Bagnal Harvey, Dr John Colclough,
John Kelly, Cornelius Grogan, Patrick
Prendergast, Fr. Philip Roche, John
Herron, Edward Frayne, Esmond Ryan
and Matthew Keugh
AH DHEIS LAMH DE GO RAIBH SIAD
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