DESPERATE attempts to protect a famous 14th century bridge from the ravages of modern traffic have undermined a village's attempts to expand tourism and industrial investment.
Now, the Government has been urged to sanction a special one-off grant package for a new bridge for the village of Glanworth in north Cork after council members acknowledged that financing such a project would consume most of their entire regional budget.
Glanworth village is famed for its narrow stone bridge. It is ranked as one of the finest medieval stone bridges in Europe -- and has been crossed by kings, chieftains and even Oliver Cromwell, according to local legend.
Despite its size -- it ranks as one of the narrowest stone bridges in Europe -- it remained in full use, even for heavy vehicles, until a decade ago. But when an accident involving a heavy lorry demolished part of the approach to the bridge, tough traffic restrictions were imposed to protect the structure.
These measures have successfully protected the bridge from excessive wear-and-tear -- but locals are now worried that it has also limited the attraction of Glanworth as a tourism and investment location.
Labour TD Sean Sherlock said that the magnificent bridge should underpin a money-spinning tourism industry for the village -- if it could be complemented by a modern bridge for easy access.
Such enhanced access would help make the village -- which also boasts a picturesque mill, castle and abbey -- more attractive for small-and-medium scale investment.
Local councillor Kevin O'Keefe (FF) said: "The simple fact is that the village is being slowly suffocated.
"On the one hand, it has a magnificent medieval bridge but then, on the other, it can't exploit the potential of the bridge because of the traffic problems in the village."