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Demand For Blackwater Bridge

22 April 1927

Irish News (On this day 21st,April 1999)

YESTERDAY afternoon a public meeting at Maghery, Co Armagh, in support of the proposed bridge across the River Blackwater which divides the counties of Armagh and Tyrone, was attended by a large and representative gathering of the public and businessmen of both counties.

The proceedings were most enthusiastic throughout. The erection of a bridge over Maghery Ferry, now long overdue, would be a great boon to Stewartstown, Coalisland, Dungannon, Cookstown and other towns, as well as helping the thriving town of Portadown. It would undoubtedly serve as a shortcut for the Tyrone people to Belfast and Portadown.

On the motion of Mr Joseph Cullen, teacher, seconded by Mr Samuel Cumings, the chair was taken by Colonel Fitzgerald. The chairman said he believed the project would be certain to receive the unanimous support of the people of both counties.

Colonel Howard said that when he arrived that afternoon at the Blackwater and saw the primitive way which the people had of crossing from Tyrone to Armagh, he began to wonder whether he was in Northern Ireland or the wilds of Connemara or some other place. He could not imagine how this could exist in the 20th century (applause).

The span across the river was not a very wide one and could be covered by one decent span. All they required was the cooperation of the two counties and the support of their MPs. Mr Rowley Elliott, MP, said he thought it was time that the people of these two counties should cooperate together to erect a bridge across the Blackwater with the least possible delay.

All it needed was enthusiasm. He felt so enthusiastic about it that he would like to have the privilege of laying the foundation stone that night. The erection of a bridge meant money, but there seemed to be a great deal of money in Northern Ireland for some things, and it was up to them to try and unlock Mr Pollock’s safe.

Supposing this bridge costs £10,000, if the government gave half and the two counties put up the remainder and that money was spread over 30 years, it would be a small fraction on the ratepayers. Major Shillington, MP, said he thought pressure was required to be brought on the county councils and they might count on his full support in this matter. Rev Fr McVitty said they might rely on his support, and he could safely say that the voice of the people was unanimous.

Mr Waugh, JP proposed and Mr J Davidson, JP, seconded: “That this mass meeting of representative men of counties Armagh and Tyrone do hereby pledge ourselves to do everything in our power to have a bridge erected across Maghery Ferry and we call upon the MPs and the members of the county council, the former to bring pressure on the government, so that a bridge should be erected across the river at the earliest possible moment.”


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