The largest bridge in Ireland, which spans the river Suir outside Waterford and was opened in 2009, has been named the Thomas Francis Meagher Bridge, in honour of the man who played a key role in the 1848 rebellion before being transported abroad.
President Higgins made a speech at an event for the naming of the bridge (full version available here) on why characters of Irish History such as Meagher should be remembered:
“Today, through the naming of the “Thomas Francis Meagher Bridge”, we are inscribing the Revolutionary nationalism of the Young Irelanders as a further layer in the local memorial landscape.
Few Irish patriots have appealed so warmly to the popular imagination in their own time as has Thomas Francis Meagher in the mid-19th century. Eloquent, generous, passionate, courageous and handsome; in turn orator, journalist, lawyer, revolutionary, convict, soldier in the American civil war and Acting Governor of Montana – there is a picturesque, almost literary, quality to Meagher’s personality and life, which continues to capture our imagination.
In so many ways, Thomas Meagher is characteristic of that generation of 1848, who, throughout Europe, from the Polish lands of the Austrian Empire’s Eastern frontier to Italy, from Denmark to France and Italy, fought against tyranny, to vindicate liberty and the self-determination of oppressed peoples.”