Times past with Brian Gabriel

Tributaries and Bridges of the River Martin The Blarney is the Martin’s largest tributary, but way up at the other end the very first makes its way down from the Bottle Hill direction. It eventually flows under the modern Mallow road and the railway before emptying itself into the Martin. Shortly after, but coming from the west, is the Lyradane Stream. This is not to be confused with the originating stream, nor with Fiddler’s Brook which has also been known as the Lyradane Stream. Fiddler’s Brook in any case does not go to the Martin at all but flows towards Courtbrack and meets the Shournagh at Fox’s Bridge. Next is a stream on the left bank which forms a boundary for Rathduff townland followed by one coming down through Quarry Hall crossroads. Then we’re back on the left bank with the second largest tributary, the Glancam. The Glencam, (or Glencaum, reflecting an older pronunciation) comes all the way down from the top of Whitechurch and takes on Six-Mile-Water along the way. It flows through the steep-sided glen of its name and under a fine old viaduct. Its entrance to the Martin is now a rather grand concrete affair, a result of the building of the new Mallow Road. A big difference between the tributaries coming from the left, or east bank and the right, or west bank is that those from the east have had ‘work done’ to them over the years. They’ve had to accommodate the old and new Mallow roads and the railway while those from the west make a more natural entrance. From the Glencam to Waterloo there are over half a dozen more streams alternating between the two banks. Perhaps the most picturesque comes from the direction of Newcastle. It’s an unimpressive drain for most of its course but after passing the new graveyard it tumbles through some woodland practically as a waterfall at times. Dividing Knocknasuff and Monacnappa is a stream that drains a large swathe of land from Dawstown. It comes down to Poulnagawer at Fintan Walsh’s farm in Killowen, passes between Browne’s and Cremin’s and meets the Martin with an artificial fall on the Waterloo Walk. Finally, the last and largest tributary, the Blarney, originates near Whitechurch school and is some 6½ miles long. After coming down through Monard Glen it gets lost in Inchancomain bog before finding itself again and splitting in two near the Scout Hall. The original course goes under the Gothic Bridge and meets the Martin at the Castle. While the second channel goes under the Bar Bridge and initially evades the Martin by actually flowing under its bed but eventually meets its fate behind Paud’s Cross. This second channel was excavated in the nineteenth century to increase the flow out of the bog and provide drainage. Bridges Some sixteen bridges span the Martin, some of them simple affairs where they serve pedestrian purposes or, in the upper reaches, where the river is narrow. The two flanking the Dairygold complex at Grenagh are more substantial affairs. The first has acquired an assortment of undecorative pipes over the years while the second, at the start of the Glen Road, is scarcely noticeable to the pedestrian crossing it, let alone the motorist. But it’s also perhaps the most picturesque and venerable-looking over the course of the whole river. It has an earlier feel about it than those of the railway era with its crooked arch and less of the geometrically cut limestone. The next substantial crossing is the Mallow road creation from 1992 at Ath na hEorna. That name translates as ‘the Ford of the Barley’ and in itself tells us something about the history of the river at this spot. A half-mile further downstream brings us to the well-known Wise’s Bridge. It takes its name from the Wise family but has gone by other names too – Clarke’s Bridge, Ballymartin Bridge and Dawson’s Bridge. It features on the 1840 O.S. map but sadly little survives of the Grand Jury records to tell us about the building of such old bridges. Like many others it was damaged during the war of independence/civil war time. As late as June 1924 it still hadn’t been repaired and was said to be an “awful death trap”, with a motorist and a pony and trap both falling from it. The centre was “clean gone” with no effort being made to repair it, nor was there even a warning sign5. A mile and a bit on from Wise’s Bridge was a well-known ford and set of stepping stones. These were situated directly down from Garrycloyne graveyard and functioned as more than a mere crossing. They were also a site for meeting and social gathering. Bridie Duggan, Waterloo, remembers a group of older girls going down to them with a gramophone to play records. The landscape around here, the historic heart of Garrycloyne parish, was a busier one in centuries past with its nearby castle, church and graveyard, the crossing point and pathways that have now disappeared. Perhaps the beginning of the decline was when Putland’s Bridge at Waterloo was built between 1812 and 1815. This is the first bridge actually named on the 1840 map and is testament to the Putland family and their hard working tenantry whose rents helped pay for it. On we go from there along the Waterloo Road to where the dam stood and across which it was once possible to enter into Ardamadane Wood. Foot bridges, or foot sticks have also crossed the river over the centuries at various points. Their life spans were often of relatively short duration and their locations are now long forgotten. Today there is nothing for close on two miles from Waterloo until we get to the village and meet with Shean Bridge at the base of Station Road followed by Blarney Bridge at the Square. O’Donovan, in the O.S. Namebooks, appears to give 1820 as the year of construction for the former and 1790 for the latter. They were both of one arch and erected by public subscription. In 1900 Blarney Bridge was in such bad shape that the crown of the arch was giving way and a county surveyor considered it a fit case for a Sudden Damages Order6. The sum of £30 was proposed for repairs but the value was short lived as the Great Flood of 1948 destroyed the bridge and much more besides. A temporary wickerwork structure (apparently the ladies didn’t like crossing it) was put in place until the present bridge was built in dark concrete block-work, the like of which can also be seen at Healy’s Bridge and along the Station Road. Less than a hundred yards away from Blarney Bridge stood the famous Dry Bridge. This was built earlier, way back in 1756 in fact, when the industrial village was evolving, and it was regarded as a handsome structure with three arches. But the river was never diverted under it as intended, leaving “the bridge without a river, and the river without a bridge”7. However, it proved to have its uses, a woman living at the gate lodge kept her hens under it before it was dismantled, and the site levelled after the flood of 1948. The next significant structure is Bawnafinna Bridge which was erected in 1810, also through public subscription. The twisting and shifting of the river on the flat land before it means the river has some difficulty in meeting its eye and a whirl has also developed. Soon after that the Shournagh is met with and then comes Tower Bridge. Among the sums voted for the repair of bridges by the Cork Rural District Council at a meeting in 1923 were Tower Bridge £230, Bawnafinna £420, Willison’s £30, Blarney £360, Shean £365, Putland’s £210, Wise’s £360. Altogether 42 bridges were considered at that meeting.