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Ballina’s Salmon Weir Bridge under god of light and sky

Ballina’s Salmon Weir Bridge looks splendid at night and especially in the days around St. Patrick’s Day when the footbridge over the River Moy is illuminated in green.

The imposing structure, designed in the shape of a fishing rod, was opened in July 2009. The pedestrian bridge spans the Ridgepool at the Salmon Weir and is surrounded by some of Ballina’s most historic and impressive buildings.

History and modernity come together near the bridge.

Within sight of the pedestrian bridge are some of Ballina’s most historic sites such as the Augustinian Abbey, St. Muredach’s Cathedral and the recently refurbished salmon weir, a mecca for salmon anglers from all over the world during the summer.

The soon to be opened Mary Robinson Archive and Library, located in the 18th century home of the former President of Ireland on Emmet Street, is also just a short walk from the Salmon Weir Bridge.

Named after the famous salmon weir, located just beneath the bridge, it overlooks the refurbished weir with its electronic fish-counters to monitor salmon runs which were opened in September 2011 by An Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD.

The 67m long, two-span, post tension cable-stayed footbridge is one of three bridges that span the River Moy in Ballina.

The two other bridges are downstream of the Salmon Weir Bridge. The first, the Armstrong and West, or Lower bridge, was built in 1835 and has 4 arches. The second, the Hamm bridge or Upper bridge, was built the following year 1836 by Thomas Hamm at a cost of £3,000.00 and has 5 arches.

On the Ardnaree side of the Salmon Weir Bridge, St. Michael’s Church of Ireland looks majestic in the night light. The cultural heart of town in the shape of Ballina’s modern arts centre, on the Barrett Street side of the bridge, overlooks the Salmon Weir Bridge.

Walking Routes

Cross the bridge to the east bank and you can follow the River Moy to Ballina Town Park, and, further on, the Quay village and Ballina harbour, a lovely 3 km walk along the banks of the Moy. Ballina harbour was once a thriving port and is now a popular boating and water activity centre.

On summer’s evening, families, joggers, and walkers can be seen crossing the Salmon Weir Bridge to enjoy the wonderful amenity of the Canalside recreational park or to follow the riverside walk that goes all the way to the Hollister factory at Rehins.

Some people head north along Emmet Street and follow the course of the river to beautiful Belleek Wood on the banks of the River Moy’s inner estuary where the sylvan scene abounds with birds and wild animals such as the red squirrel.

When the nights are dry and the sky is clear, Ballina’s Salmon Weir Bridge is a wonderful subject for amateur and professional photographers.

The reflected light from the bridge’s fishing rod like a pylon and stay cables on the fast-flowing River Moy creates a stunning scene as it was when I took the featured photograph above a couple of nights before St. Patrick’s Day.

And, as night fell, it was fitting that the planet Jupiter, the ancient Roman god of light and sky, rose above the eastern horizon putting the final touch to a beautiful Ballina scene.

By Anthony Hickey

Follow writer and photographer, Anthony Hickey, as he travels around his native Co. Mayo, Ireland.