"Reelan Bridge, Lifford" is actually the "Dry Arch" in Straboy, Co Donegal

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Where: Donegal, Ireland

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When: Unknown

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Though labelled as "Reelan Bridge, Lifford, Co. Donegal" in the catalogue, after some initial location theories that were closer to Lifford, it was confirmed that we are a little further afield. Within a short space of time, both O Mac and Niall McAuley suggested a bridge over the Shallogan River ("An Sealgán"). Though still in Donegal, this puts us 60kms from Lifford and makes the hill in the background an Shalloganbeg ("Cnoc an tSealgáin Bhig"). The modern-day streetview topography seemed pretty convincing, and the guys suggested that the photographer was standing close to where the 1890s Stranorlar and Glenties rail line was just built, was being built, or was to be built.

Not satisfied with this, O Mac actually went to Straboy. In doing so he not only confirmed the location, took a few "today" shots, and established a likely date range - but even settled the "what is the 'house' pictured" debate. As per his note below, local knowledge suggests it was probably a hen coop. Kudos and thanks from us in Library Towers!


Photographer: Robert French

Collection: The Lawrence Photograph Collection

Date: ca. 1865-1914 (but likely no later than mid-1890s)

NLI Ref: L_CAB_04597

You can also view this image, and many thousands of others, on the NLI’s catalogue at catalogue.nli.ie

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Owner: National Library of Ireland on The Commons
Source: Flickr Commons
Views: 25004
robertfrench williamlawrence lawrencecollection lawrencephotographicstudio glassnegative nationallibraryofirelandreelanbridgedonegalulsterbridgehutdugoutwickerbasketgirlstonesrocks reelanbridge countydonegal bridge shalloganriver straboy cnocnatsealgainbhig dryarch henhouse hencoop possiblecataloguecorrection locationidentified lawrencephotographcollection

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  • profile

    derangedlemur

    • 09/Sep/2015 08:31:46

    Doesn't look much like Lifford.

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    Niall McAuley

    • 09/Sep/2015 08:35:59

    Streetview OSI 25"

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    derangedlemur

    • 09/Sep/2015 08:38:47

    And indeed, it doesn't seem to be very near it: maps.osi.ie/publicviewer/#V2,602288,897083,11,9

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    derangedlemur

    • 09/Sep/2015 08:41:12

    Either we've got the wrong bridge or it's closer to the latter end of the date range. The 6" has more arches marked.

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    sharon.corbet

    • 09/Sep/2015 08:44:04

    Is that the right bridge though? I've been dithering as a result of the NIAH page. Does it really have 6 arches?

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    O Mac

    • 09/Sep/2015 08:50:19

    I don't think that's the right bridge. The mountain is closer and more rugged. A Blue Stack maybe.

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    derangedlemur

    • 09/Sep/2015 08:58:19

    It doesn't match either streetview or the maps very well. I'm also unconvinced. I'd assume it's somewhere on this river though.

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    sharon.corbet

    • 09/Sep/2015 08:59:10

    This location looks better to me - it's also a bridge over the Reelan. However the 6" OSI doesn't show a bridge here, and the 25" OSI is AWOL at this spot.

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    derangedlemur

    • 09/Sep/2015 09:05:17

    [https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]] I think the bridge is too new there: www.google.com/maps/@54.8165409,-8.0356045,3a,19.6y,153.1...

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    derangedlemur

    • 09/Sep/2015 09:15:04

    Well, the NIAH has 250 odd bridges in Donegal, and none in Lifford. No doubt someone with too much time on their hands can get a match.

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    O Mac

    • 09/Sep/2015 09:47:26

    Streetview Shallogan River in the townland of Straboy, Co Donegal. with Cnoc na tSealgain Bhig in the distance. 25" OSI

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    derangedlemur

    • 09/Sep/2015 10:04:58

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected] I think it's the wrong shape and the foreground building isn't on either map. Have you also looked at the surrounding images in the catalogue and concluded that it might be Glenties really?

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    Niall McAuley

    • 09/Sep/2015 10:16:40

    I now like this one. The 6" shows a ford (1837). The 25" shows a railway. So after the bridge was built, before the railway? Edit: This is the same one O Mac identified before me.

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    Niall McAuley

    • 09/Sep/2015 10:26:03

    The Stranorlar to Glenties branch opened in 1895.

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    Niall McAuley

    • 09/Sep/2015 10:52:23

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected] Yes, it's possible this was taken from the railway line, as opposed to before it was built...

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    Niall McAuley

    • 09/Sep/2015 10:54:22

    There is a structure here on the 1837 6".

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    Niall McAuley

    • 09/Sep/2015 10:57:17

    I wonder if the ford was replaced by this bridge when the railway went through?

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    O Mac

    • 09/Sep/2015 10:58:23

    My guess would be that the photograph was taken pre railway ( 1895). The railway bridge is very close to this one and being higher I'd imagine the road would have been raised to meet it rather than leaving the dip that we see above.

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    robinparkes

    • 09/Sep/2015 15:11:07

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/gnmcauley The mountains in the street view compare well with the original photo. I'd say you've got it.

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    O Mac

    • 09/Sep/2015 15:28:29

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected] Excuse me....; )

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    robinparkes

    • 09/Sep/2015 15:45:25

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected] Sorry didn't read it all.

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    O Mac

    • 09/Sep/2015 15:50:49

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected] Up Donegal : )

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    mcginley2012

    • 09/Sep/2015 20:36:04

    There is so much to see in this image. I am curious about the covered structure behind the creel. Might it be a well?

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    robinparkes

    • 09/Sep/2015 20:54:04

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected] Definitely! That where my wife is from. Dún na nGall abú!

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    National Library of Ireland on The Commons

    • 09/Sep/2015 22:05:52

    Thanks [https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]] and [https://www.flickr.com/photos/gnmcauley] for the investigations and the pretty convincing suggestion. As [https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]] points-out, the topography of the hill would seem pretty convincing alright. Certainly enough for us to map the image to the suggested location. Would still be great to hear any thoughts on the structure in the foreground (on which the girl is sitting). And if perhaps whether any investigation on the nearby Glenties-Stranorlar railway line might help us with dates. Certainly it looks more likely to be not much later than the 1890s....

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    guliolopez

    • 09/Sep/2015 22:21:12

    That location looks pretty convincing to me alright. Apart from the match on the hill(s) in the background, the way the bridge narrows slightly over the arches is pretty distinctive. Probably not unique, but combined with the closeness of the masonry/stone work, it is certainly a very likely match. Would it take someone to trek to Glenties with their trusty instamatic before we hear the sound of the "location confirmed" klaxon? (That circular looking yoke at the top of the cutwater on the pier looks pretty distinctive - makes me want to peer over the edge on the modern streetview to confirm :) ) [EDIT: PS. The bungalow slightly to the north is a B&B, aptly named the Dry Arch B&B. The Trip Advisor reviews - as well as being overwhelmingly positive - have some guest photos, including a view of the bridge which is equally supportive of the location suggestion. ]

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    BrianHancock1

    • 09/Sep/2015 22:54:32

    Now I'm only guessing. I would say not a well. The top is not open nor has a removable top. In fact it is covered with turf roughly. The small structure a short distance away is presumably a domestic building probably a humble cottage or perhaps a farm outbuilding. Thus the structure in question has something to do with domestic life. A bit to do with 'woman's work' judging by the dress and position of the young woman. Note the basket by the opening of the structure. It is covered by something like canvas. That suggests a load of something to be protected from water or moisture. The structure itself appears to be designed however simply to create a small ground repository which will be cool with the load of sods on top. No refrigerators or icemen in Donegal in the 19th century. Does anyone have a better guess than this? It is a carefully though simply constructed ground pit to store potatoes in the medium to long term in a canvas protected wicker basket safe from the light, heat and moisture.

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    DannyM8

    • 10/Sep/2015 06:22:41

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected] The wicker basket could be an eel trap?

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    O Mac

    • 10/Sep/2015 06:56:26

    [https://www.flickr.com/photos/nlireland] .... Considering the nearby river-- and high water table--- I would suspect the foreground "small structure" is just a simple spring and the hut, or bathán is just that...a scioból beag... and wasn't lived in.. The fields with the lazy beds in the distance are clear to see on Bing Maps.... This March 2010 Streetview gives us a glimse of the second arch.

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    Bwana_Samaki

    • 10/Sep/2015 13:45:27

    I would suggest that the thatched hut was very much lived in. These structures are common in that part of Donegal and although relegated to the function of byres by early 20th century I knew people whose grandparents had lived in them.

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    Dominique Beau 白德明(12,7Millions v.)

    • 10/Sep/2015 16:39:20

    ___Old stones________

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    National Library of Ireland on The Commons

    • 10/Sep/2015 21:41:09

    Thanks again all - based on the extra corroboration, we've added the coveted "Location Identified" tag, and duly rung the bell! (Although the night porter at Library Towers really doesn't like it when I do that at this time of the evening :) )

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    O Mac

    • 11/Sep/2015 22:10:59

    I called by Straboy today and seeing the lay of the land and how the two bridges connect I'm certain that the photograph was taken before the railway was built in 1895. The parapet in the photograph is level, whereas today, the parapet and road rise up to meet the higher railway bridge.www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/21144174809/in/datepos... The field has been extensively levelled since the railway was dismantled. The ground level in our picture, appears to be lower today than it was when the photograph was taken. www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/20707860724/in/datepos... But more interesting was meeting Barbara Bonner who's family, the Hegartys, have owned this field for generations. Their original farm house was just to the left of the photographer and was knocked in 1894 to make way for the railway. The 1901 census shows Anne Hegarty and her three daughters and one son living in their new house which the Railway built and which still stands today. It is most likely one of these three women who we see sitting beside the spring/well. It's either Mary, Margaret or Bridget Hegarty. I was told that the hut was a hen house.

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    guliolopez

    • 13/Sep/2015 19:23:03

    That is absolutely excellent https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]. Making the extra effort to venture beyond streetview ("keyboard warriors" such as meself) and investing in the petrol to get the scoop (becoming "Mad Mac, road warrior"). I am duly inspired to make the extra effort myself next time! Bualadh bos

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    mcginley2012

    • 13/Sep/2015 20:55:27

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected] Excellent sleuthing. They have made a fine field out of that rocky terrain.

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    National Library of Ireland on The Commons

    • 13/Sep/2015 22:58:14

    While us Marys are rarely surprised by the ingenuity and effort of the most dedicated Flickroonies, https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected] deserves extra acclaim for not only doubly corroborating the location first-hand, but also refining the date range, and sourcing that bit of local knowledge to confirm what the smaller structure was. While these efforts likely deserve more recognition, for now we're limited to highlighting the well-deserved "kudos" in the description. Thanks O Mac!

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    DannyM8

    • 14/Sep/2015 04:26:29

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected] Excellent, thank you.

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    O Mac

    • 14/Sep/2015 08:21:41

    I just happened to be passing.....

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    nannyjean35

    • 14/Sep/2015 12:51:43

    interesting picture , lovely

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    secret vest

    • 14/Sep/2015 13:42:55

    I'm not Irish and I'm on the other side of the water way; I do love these shots!!! Boy, what a tough life ....