07 – Ballinora GAA pitch, number 8 bridge and Chetwynd viaduct

The new development at number 8 Bridge in Ballymah is a state of the art facility, compared to what existed away back before the GAA came into being in 1884. In 1864 Kinsale arrived by train to play a return game against Ballinora. It was November, and the August game in Farrangalway, Kinsale had no conclusive result. Kinsale arrived to teach the Ballinora boys a lesson in hurling, because their pride had been wounded. Kinsale had been undisputed champions of the region until they met Ballinora. Word must have got out. The Kinsale baggage had been returned to the train station close by before the contest began. After the ball was thrown in, the game only lasted two minutes and fifty-five seconds. 2,000 people came to see the game, very many from Cork city itself. Apparently, the Kinsale team and some of their supporters threw themselves down on the ball, unable to cope with Ballinora. They took off for the railway station as fast as they could, and claimed they were attacked by a crowd close to 2,000. The result still remains unsatisfactory, and I am here now suggesting a replay should be arranged, to finally settle the score, before I shed this mortal coil, because the story was told to me as a boy by my grandfather, whose father was at the game. That is real heritage.

The red and green jersey today, worn by the young men of Ballinora still stands for pride of place, as it did back then in 1864. The game of hurling and football is still being played, in every vale and highland, in every field and lawn, in dear old Ballinora – rings the clash of the ash caman, and the bounce of the big football.

The railway line is all covered in today. It ran under the road, under number 8 bridge, deep down, with high embankments on either side. It was the steam you would see more than the train, as it struggled its way uphill from the mighty viaduct at chewing.

The viaduct at Chetwynd is a superstructure, even to this day, as it spans across the valley. The magnificent pillars supported 1,000 tons of cast and wrought iron, and it took 20 men 4 hours to fix each span into position with special machines. It is 450 feet long and 90 feet high. Work started in 1850, and the first crossing was in late 1851. In 1955, the legendary bowl player, the greatest of them all, Mick Barry, lofted a sixteen-ounce bowl over it – the only person ever to do it. It was a performance in power, strength and technique, the likes of which we will probably never see again.