Glendun Viaduct is known as the Big Bridge by the Glens people. It spans the river Dun in the centre of the glen and is reputed to be one of the finest buildings of its kind in the British Isles. They were five years building it, from 1834 to 1839, though no work was done during the winter months. One of the master builders, Mr. Bowels, came from County Monaghan and others came from Donegal. They were lodged where McKay’s public house is and also in Dunourgan, built in 1828. The stones were quarried in Layde, taken by boat to Cushendun and then transported by cart to the Bridge. The arches were filled with grout, run in as slurry, and the range wall was drilled and filled with lead. The river was paved by McClarty of Layde, a master work of its own. Local labour was employed. John Kane from Cary did a turn of the sheep for Mr. Casement each morning and came to work at the Bridge after that. A man travelled from Skerry who carried a black box, yet he was never seen to open it. A labourer’s pay was ten pence a day; barrowmen, and they were very numerous, and cartmen were paid a shilling a day.
The only accident heard of was when a horse and cart went over the edge of the Bridge. The scaffolding was supported by ships’ masts, and when the building was finished the Keenans, who were building a new house in 1840, got one of the masts around a ton weight. Sharpe of Cornmaddy brought it with his horses up the old road, and used it for all makes of timber work for the house, and that woodwork is in perfect condition in 1978. A Glensman, Danny McKernan, tells that his father, Michael, went from school with lunch, oaten bread and sweet milk, to a foreman at the Bridge, McCambridge of Glendun. This man went every month in his horse and trap with two strong men to Ballycastle to lift the men’s wages. The architect was Mr. Lanyon and also a Mr. Young.
The men who cleaned the Bridge a few years ago tell that so well done was the work that it did not require any more work from them.
(The two preceeding articles were written specially for this number of “The Glynns” by the late Patrick McAuley who died on 4th February, 1979 Patsy was a true Glensman, a farmer, and in particular a Glendun man who took an immense interest in the local history and lore of his glen. He was a foundation member of our Society and a regular attender at our meetings where he contributed generously to discussion and where he is sadly missed. Ed.)
On the 17th January last, during a particularly severe spell of frost, a lorry laden with cement went out of control on its way into Cushendall and demolished the range walls of the bridge. Over 260 years ago, the bridge across the same river was damaged by a flood, and readers may be interested in the amount of money that was estimated to be necessary for its repair in those days. This information comes from an item in the Grand Jury Presentment Book for Co. Antrim (1711-1721) PRO. Ant.X1/IA.
“Whereas an arch of the bridge of Cassendal is come down by a most violent flood, Wee therefore present the sume of ten pounds to be raised of the four Lower Baronys and put into the hands of John Donelson of Drumnasole and William Hamilton of Casshendon gent for the rebuilding of the said arch.”