Old Red Iron – An Abandoned Railway Bridge in Waterford

Old Red Iron

Old Red Iron is the local name given to this railway bridge which spans the river Suir in Waterford, Ireland. Originally built in 1906, it was part of the route which linked Cork and Kerry to the Port of Rosslare via Waterford. The bridge has 9 spans and the central part could open for shipping however it has been subsequently removed. The removed section is now located a couple of hundred metres downstream on the shoreline.

The Old Red Iron Bridge with the section in the middle removed

You can see where the middle span of the bridge is missing in this picture.

The missing piece of the Old Red Iron Bridge located downstream

This is the missing piece of the bridge located on the shoreline downstream

With a length of 1205ft, the Old Red Iron bridge was once one of the longest in the country and today is not far from Ireland’s second longest bridge, the River Suir Bridge which opened in 2009 and is 230 metres. It’s also 112 metres high. The longest bridge in Ireland is now the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy bridge near New Ross which is also part of the N25 road.

The River Suir Bridge in Waterford

This the “new bridge”, the Suir Bridge on the N25 road route from Cork to Rosslare

The railway line was originally used as a faster route for mail between the transatlantic port of Cobh and London via Rosslare however it closed in 1967 only to reopen again 1970 to service the mineral processing plant near Dungarvan. The Waterford to Dungarvan section of the line was used until 1987 when it was closed to the public. The Old Red Iron bridge was abandoned in 1995 and by 2003, the central section and the track was removed to allow easier access of boats further up the river.

The bridge was used briefly to connect Waterford South Station located near Bilberry to the north side of the river Suir before it closed in 1908 and from there on was used to transport goods to Waterford Stanley and Cherry’s Brewery in Bilberry. Part of the route south of the river Suir has been maintained as a tourist attraction by Waterford & Suir Valley Railway. The route between Waterford and Dungarvan was transformed into the Waterford Greenway, a cycle track which is part of the larger EuroVelo1 route. Over 300,000 people use the greenway every year and plans are afoot to extend it to New Ross and Tramore. Part of the route will connect through the revitalised North Quays in Waterford City.

It is important to note that many of the early railway lines in Ireland have closed over the last hundred years. Waterford, located in the South East of Ireland, once well connected to other towns and cities by rail, now just has two routes. The busiest is to Dublin via Kilkenny and Carlow, the other is to Limerick via Tipperary. The lines to New Ross and Rosslare are maintained but have not been in use since 2010. Waterford also had a line to the seaside town of Tramore which closed in 1960 and was the only Irish railway that never connected to the Irish rail network!

How rail transport in Ireland has changed

The railway network in Ireland in 1920 compared with today.

The piece of the Old Red Iron bridge which was removed can be seen in the map below. If you go to the Top Oil Waterford Newrath Depot on the north side of the river and move slightly downstream, it can be seen.

Location: Waterford, Ireland

Abandoned: 1995


View Larger Map

Old Red Iron Bridge

Zoomed in view of the bridge. Notice the wooden protection around the pillars on the left.

The Old Red Iron Bridge through the trees

The bridge through the trees. This gives you a better idea of the width of the span

An underpass in Waterford

This is an underpass on the south bank of the river. The railway line above goes to the Old Red Iron bridge to the right and Dungarvan to the left.

Looking at Old Red Iron Bridge from the south bank

This is the view looking onto the bridge from the south bank of the river

Graffiti on Waterford railway bridge

Graffiti on the wall on the south side of the bridge.

Looking at Waterford City from the Old Red Iron Bridge

You can see Waterford City further downstream from the bridge

Railings blocking the entrance to Old Red Iron

Railings block the entrance to the bridge

Underpass at Old Red Iron bridge

The underpass from the other side.

Abandoned carts on the old Waterford to Dungarvan rail line

2 carts have been left here abandoned since the days of transporting minerals from Dungarvan.

 

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