Nestorís Bridge

Photographed in the Spring of 2000

Nestorís Bridge, a one-arch stone bridge in the townland of Maghera, was named for the family of my grandmother, Mary Nestor.  Land records obtained from the Irish government in Dublin show that my great-grandfather, John Nestor, farmed two plots of land adjacent to the bridge as far back as the 1850s.  And Johnís father, Darby Nestor, was listed as a resident of  the townland in the ďTithe Applotment Books,Ē a set of land records compiled in 1825.

The Nestor name was officially attached to the bridge when the British government conducted its first Ordnance Survey in the late 1830s.  The British surveyors endeavored to list the accepted names of local landmarks.  As Nestorís Bridge can be found in the ďname booksĒ the surveyors carried in the 1830s, the name must have been in general use for many years prior to that.

Residents of Maghera to this day know the bridge as Nestorís Bridge.  

 

This is the eastern side of Nestorís Bridge as seen from the road.  The ivy and wild flowers growing on the bridge tend to diminish the size of the structure.  The bridge also appears smaller than it truly is as the roadbed itself has been built up over the past century. 

 

This is also the eastern side of the bridge, and only when seen from the level of the river can the true size of Nestorís Bridge be appreciated.  For much of its existence the bridge would have dominated the immediate landscape, and the British surveyors accordingly included it in their notes for the first Ordnance Survey conducted in the late 1830s.  The bridge was mostly likely built in the 1700s.

MacDuaghís River has been dammed upstream by the Irish forestry department, and the water level is lower than what it would have been in my fatherís time, when residents of Maghera fished for trout near the bridge.

 

This view, looking northward along the Maghera Road, shows how Nestorís Bridge is not nearly as prominent on the landscape as it once must have been.  In the days when my father would have walked across the bridge on his way to school (the old Maghera schoolhouse was located down this road, just before the steep hill visible in the distance) the bridge would have risen above the surface of the dirt road.  Modern paving has raised the road surface considerably. 

 

The passing of time hasnít been kind to Nestorís Bridge.  The western side of the bridge has sustained damage from large trucks and farm vehicles colliding with it.  It is testament to its sturdy construction, and the skill of the stonemasons who built it approximately 250 years ago, that the bridge has held up so well to modern punishment.  While the road sees little traffic, automobiles and trucks do pass over the bridge daily, and despite the cosmetic damage, the bridge seems to be as structurally sound as the day it was built.

 

A close-up of some of the damage on the western side of the bridge.  Even with its modern injuries, the bridge possesses its own unique beauty.

 


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