KILKEE architect Tom Byrne, who last December made public his proposal to build a 117m pedestrian glass suspension bridge from the mainland to Bishops Island in Kilkee’s West End, made a presentation at Monday’s meeting of Kilkee Town Council.
The proposed drop would be 50m and the bridge would be transparent. During the presentation, he said that monks once lived on the eighth century island. They lived there for two years at a time, reaching the island by currach before climbing onto the remote three quarters of an acre island. They relied on sheep and fish for food for their two-year sojourn.
Last December, the cost was estimated at approximately €1.75m but Mr Byrne said this week that following discussions with Kilmihil contractor Louis Keating, the likely cost would be €2.5m.
Pointing out that Fáilte Ireland would grant-aid 70% of the project if there was some funding available from Clare County Council, Mr Byrne also said that Shannon Development are backing the proposal.
He added that he envisaged the bridge being open from Easter until the end of October each year and that the Office of Public Works would ensure that visitor numbers were kept at a reasonable level.
“It would pay for itself in no time and would bring people from all over the world,” he predicted.
The meeting heard that a similar project in Northern Ireland, which incorporates a rope bridge, attracted 247,000 visitors in 2010.
Mr Byrne added that he was involved in talks with Leader on the possibility of seeking funding for a feasibility study.
He also said that Timmy and Mary Carmody, who own Bishop’s Island, which is a national monument, are “very receptive” to his plans.
“I think it’s a brilliant idea. It’s a novel idea,” Councillor Claire Haugh commented. All councillors supported the plan.