The old masonry bridge which spans the river Slaney at Scarawalsh was built in 1790 by the two Oriel brothers from Hampshire, England, who were also responsible for the construction of Enniscorthy Bridge in 1775. There had been a crossing point over the Slaney at Scarawalsh prior to the construction of the current bridge; a wooden bridge is recorded to have been swept away by floods in 1787 and a map from 1714 indicates a ferry service there. A new bridge opened in 1976 just downstream, replacing it as the main crossing point over the river Slaney at Scarawalsh.
During the war of Independence an attempt was made to blow up the bridge in the early hours of Tuesday morning the 2nd of July 1921. The Enniscorthy guardian gives the following account.
An attempt was made to blow up the bridge at Scarawalsh in the early hours of Tuesday morning. The bridge which spans the river Slaney, and is on the main road to Newtownbarry from Enniscorthy is situated about three miles from the latter place. As far as could be ascertained between the hours of one and two o’clock on Tuesday morning the people in the vicinity were awakened by the noise of a very loud explosion. The violence of it shook houses in the neighbourhood and the noise was heard in Enniscorthy. Various theories were conjectured as to its effect and the loud report of the explosion led people to believe that whatever occurred, whether by accident or design, nothing could withstand its fierceness. The cause was discovered on Tuesday morning when it was ascertained that an attempt had been made to destroy the bridge. It was however ineffectual. The only damage done as far as could be ascertained from a cursory glance was that a slight hole was caused in the crown of the bridge. Whether the arches of the bridge, which is supported by three substantial ones, remain uninjured will be for the experts to ascertain. The Ferns police were early on the scene, but no attempt was made to repair the hole in the structure. This did not prevent cars passing over the bridge, there being sufficient room on both sides of the bridge to enable its crossing. Very many cars however, those of the large type, were unable to cross it, and were complelled to return to Enniscorthy and make the journey by the Solsborough road on their way to Newtownbarry and Ferns. Mr. W. F. Barry. County Surveryor, made an examination of he bridge on Tuesday afternoon. (Enniscorhty Guardian, 2nd July 1921)
This was not the first time an attempt was made to damage Scarawalsh bridge. Previously during the 1916 rising an unsuccessful effort occured, likley to disrupt British troops from reaching Enniscorthy. However the bridge was ‘blown up and totally destroyed’ (Freemain Journal 29th Jan 1923) during the Civil War on Saturday the 27th of Janury 1923. The bridge was later repaired and still stands today as an excellent example of a ‘rural’ eighteenth century road bridge.
River Slaney: from sea to source by John Duffy, 2006
Enniscorthy Guardian, 2nd July 1921
Skibbereen Eagle, 13th May 1916
Freemans Journal, 29th January 1923
Cover photo: Scarawalsh Bridge viewed from the south side