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CONTACT DETAILS

Chairman: Jim Boylan

+44 7821 247857

Secretary: Adrian O'Hare

+44 7713 867535

 

4 Mary Street

WARRENPOINT

County Down BT 34 3NT

www.narrowwaterbridge.co.uk

The Narrow Water Bridge Community Network is  a cross-community group of  concerned citizens from around Carlingford Lough who believe that the area has been by-passed down the decades by both governments with regard to economic investment. 

ABOUT US

© 2017 Narrow Water Bridge Community

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Narrow Water lies at the head of Carlingford Lough, a glacial fjord or sea inlet that has formed the border between the two jurisdictions in Ireland since 1922. On its northern shore lies County Down with County Louth to the south. Warrenpoint is the largest town on the lough with the smaller communities of Omeath, Carlingford and Rostrevor strung around the lough on the southern and northern side respectively.

With the coming of the railways in the 1840's both sides of the lough began to prosper. Greenore on the Louth side became one of the main entry points into Ireland from Britain, and by the turn of the century Warrenpoint had become "the most  picturesque, popular & progressive watering place in Ireland"

Omeath and Carlingford shared in the prosperity of those halcyon Edwardian years with weekend tourists and day-trippers flocking to take the open-boat ferries across the lough. 

A narrow gauge railway carried the more well-heeled to enjoy the luxury of the Great Northern Railway Hotel in Rostrevor.

The Partition of Ireland had a severe economic and social impact on the Carlingford Lough area. Following the political trauma and serious civil unrest of the early decades of the 20th century the area languished and emigration was rife.  

 

Apart from an upswing in economic activity experienced during the years of the Second World War the area continued its decline.

The Newry Canal, the first summit canal in Britain and Ireland, which had been on the wane since the advent of the railways, was finally abandoned in 1949.

By 1965 all rail connections had closed and unemployment levels were at record highs.

When political violence flared again in the 1970’s the area found itself seized by a vicious terrorist campaign and an increasingly barbaric spiral of sectarian violence. This period, referred to euphemistically in Ireland as the “Troubles”, produced in the area surrounding Carlingford Lough some of the worst atrocities in the many decades of conflict. Neither community was spared.

Gruesome killings such as those of three Catholic brothers in 1976, quickly followed by what has become known as the Kingsmill Massacre in which ten Protestant workmen were shot dead, set the murderous tone of the ensuing decades. A year earlier a brutal sectarian attack took the lives of the Miami Show Band returning to Dublin from playing at a dance venue in Northern Ireland would deter southern visitors for many years.

The security forces, both police and army, also paid a heavy price throughout these awful years. Indeed Narrow Water in 1979 was the site of a deadly ambush in which 18 British paratroopers died - the greatest loss of life for the regiment since the Second World War. 

 

Both Lockhart and O'Hare, though they came from different political traditions, were convinced then that a bridge at Narrow Water would unite the communities around Carlingford Lough and provide a much-needed boost to tourism. The persistent political violence of the next two decades however prevented any serious consideration of the project.   

In the midst of great upheaval and dispair, the far-seeing Arthur Lockhart Chairman of Newry & Mourne District Council met on the 13 January 1976 with his counterpart PJ O’Hare of Louth County Council.

In the period following the Peace Process and the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, a dedicated group of local people successfully lobbied both governments and Brussels. A decision to proceed with building a bridge at Narrow Water was finally taken in 2012. 

 

 

Towards the mid 90's, under pressure from both communities, the main paramilitary groupings ended their campaigns of violence. 

The project received the full approval of both governments and the promise of substantial financial support from the EU. However following a miscalculation of costs and subsequent political mishandling the project failed to go ahead.

Political will quickly ebbed and the committed European funding was withdrawn and reallocated.

 

 

That such an important infrastructural project should be allowed to fail at the eleventh hour profoundly shocked and disappointed an incredulous local community.

The Narrow Water Bridge Community Network believes that the failure to deliver the bridge in 2013 effectively squandered an opportunity for this part of the border region to move on from a Post-Troubles Twilight Zone.

The campaign for the Narrow Water Bridge continues!