General History of the Mathew Bridge
Mathew Bridge was completed in 1846. It was named after Fr. Theobald Mathew a friar who launched a national temperance movement. In 1846 it was said that he had obtained in and around 180,000 disciples in Limerick at the time where the population of Limerick was about 250,000. There is a benchmark in the centre of Mathew Bridge. Prior to the modern structure of Mathew Bridge, there was a previous bridge on this site known simply as New Bridge, which was built when the West Watergate was demolished in 1761.
History of Father Theobald Mathew
Theobald Mathew was born in Thomastown, County Tipperary on October 10th 1790. He was educated in Kilkenny then from 1808 to 1814 he studied in Dublin where he was then ordained to the priesthood. Father Mathew joined the mission in Cork. The Cork Total Abstinence Society was established in 1838 the founders of The Pledge which Father Mathew thoroughly advocated. In less than nine months 150,000 names were enrolled to take the Pledge. The Pledge was successful in Limerick and other places. At the movements height, just before the Famine, there were 3 million people enrolled. In 1844 he traveled to Liverpool, Manchester and London with almost equal success. Father Mathews campaign caused many breweries and distilleries to close but was otherwise very popular and beneficial to the country. Father Mathew died on the 8th of September 1856 in Cobh, County Cork of a stroke. He is buried in St. Joesphs Cemetery in Cork.
Mathew Bridge is located at Rutland Street, Bridge Street Limerick city. It connects St.Mary's Parish and the Corbally area to the main city area. 52.6683° N, 8.6233° W is the geographical co-ordinates for this bridge.
William Henshaw Owen, engineer and architect of Limerick city, designed the Mathew Bridge which replaced New Bridge in 1844. The Brige was vital for the city as it linked the Englishtown, over the river Shannon , with the new and progressing new town. Before the bridge was built a ferry was in place between Bank Place and Quay Lane.
Mathew Bridge is a triple span road with a spacious flat deck. This finally crafted bridge is made from limestone ashlar and has four semi-circular limestone ashlar breakwaters supporting the elliptical arches. The bridge contains three large and stylish elliptical arches which can be seen from the distance. The bridge also features modern lamps which rise from the parapets on each side of the bridge. On the east side of the bridge there is a commemorative plaque which reads: "Mathew Bridge contracted for in the year 1844 during the Mayoralty of the Right Worshipful William I Geary M.D.".
1. Theobald Mathew (temperance reformer) - Wikipedia the free encyclopedia.
2. Mathew Bridge, Rutland Street, Bridge Steet, Limerick ,Limerick City: Buildings of Ireland, National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. - http://www.buildingsofireland.ie/niah/highlights.jsp?county=LI&list=true
3. General History of Mathew Bridge - http://limerickslife.com/limerick-bridges/#mb