What's in a name?
In December 1922, 27 year old Liam Mellows was executed by firing squad in Mountjoy Jail, Dublin. No trial took place, the execution was an act of reprisal in the course of a bitter civil war, the sides being divided on the question of the Anglo Irish Treaty, which granted independence to 26 of the 32 Irish counties. He was one of four men shot, each one representing a province of Ireland. Mellows was Connaught.
The previous June, Mellows had entered the Four Courts in Dublin with fellow anti-Treaty fighters. This was an act of provocation which caused British army field guns, borrowed by pro Treaty forces, to be trained upon them. Under intense bombardment they surrendered and were jailed, having endured for two days.
The irony of facing the British guns could not have been lost on Mellows for his father had been a British army officer. Yet his own republican credentials were impeccable. Aged 16 he had joined Fianna Éireann, a youth organisation of nationalistic zeal. A full time organiser at age 18, he crisscrossed the country by bicycle, recruiting new members. He was also a member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, bound by secret oath to achieve Irish freedom ‘Soon or Never’ and a founding member of the Irish Volunteers. Of course he came to the attention of the authorities who needed little excuse to move against a nationalist.
In 1916, Mellows, having made a daring escape from an English prison, made his way to Galway. There he lead his troops in the Easter Rising - bravely, but vainly. He evaded capture and escaped to New York where he continued to work for Ireland, returning in late 1920. Back home he worked on the general staff of the IRA and was elected TD for Galway in the general election of 1921.
In Dáil Eireann his opposition to the Anglo Irish Treaty was virulent. He was ready and willing to fight and it was for this that he paid the ultimate price - his life. Queen Maeve’s Bridge was renamed Liam Mellow’s Bridge in 1942. Two plaques, one in English, the other in Irish, were erected in his honour, and in the presence of his mother, Sarah.
Queen Maeve’s Bridge (1922-1942)
Maeve, a mythological Queen of Connacht in the 1st century B.C., was an earthly queen, a lover of men, and Queen of the Fairies – a menacing, seductive mix of this world and its darker other. Maeve’s husband, Ailill, taunted Maeve that he was the richer by one bull. Maeve searched Ireland for a bull which would rival any her husband had and with which she could trump his boastful claims. So Maeve came to steal the Brown Bull of Cooley and wage war against Connor MacNessa, King of Ulster. When over 100 years old, Maeve was murdered by the son of Connor who had died at the hands of Maeve’s warriors.
Queen’s Bridge (1768 - 1922)
Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, 17, married George III, the King of Great Britain and Ireland, whom she had first met on the morning of their wedding! Theirs was a happy marriage. Queen Charlotte was the very ideal of a royal wife, producing the heir and fourteen to spare. Charlotte died in 1818, the year the refurbishment of Queen’s Bridge was complete, replacing the parapets with cast iron balustrade and stone copings – the very bridge we see today.
Arran Bridge (1683 - 1763)
Richard, Earl of Arran, fourth son of James, Duke of Ormonde, was very much of his time and class. With a successful military career to boast of, a powerful father and wealth enough to purchase great tracts of land including the Arran Islands while still a young man, he wielded great influence. He was a lover of sport, music and women and a businessman with close links to William Ellis, builder of the Arran Bridge of 1688. Other ventures included profiteering from the making and issuing of farthing and halfpence coins for Ireland. His first wife, Mary, died aged 18, his second, Dorothy, is said not to have grieved at his death. Having only had one child, a daughter, Charlotte his title Earl of Arran became extinct on his death in 1686. In its third creation the title is now held by the ninth earl, Arthur Desmond Gore.