Cork councillors vote to name bridge after Ireland’s ‘Oskar Schindler’

Mary Elmes, from Ballintemple, credited with saving 200 Jewish children during Holocaust

A Cork woman who became known as the Irish Oskar Schindler for her efforts to save Jewish children in occupied France from the concentration camps has been honoured in her native city as councillors voted to name Cork's newest bridge after her.

Mary Elmes, who was born in Ballintemple on Cork's Southside in 1908 and died in France in 2002, was chosen by a majority of councillors when it came to deciding on a name for the new €5 million pedestrian bridge linking Merchant's Quay and St Patrick's Quay.

Mary Elmes received the backing of some 17 councillors in a two-way race vote against War of Independence figure Donnchadh de Barra, who received the backing of 12 councillors after a shortlist of five candidates was whittled down to two by the 29 councillors present from the 31-member council.

Mother Jones

Earlier it had appeared that Cork-born American trade union organiser Mother Jones might make it through to the final vote, with many councillors speaking of their admiration for her.


All eight Sinn Féin councillors and some Fianna Fáil councillors voted for Donnacha de Barra, but Fine Gael members and left-wing councillors from Solidarity and the Workers' Party who had indicated a preference for Mother Jones, and some Fianna Fáil councillors and Independents, all backed Mary Elmes.

Mary Elmes was credited with saving the lives of 200 Jewish children during the Holocaust and, in 2015, she became the first and only Irish person honoured as Righteous Among the Nations by the State of Israel in recognition of her work in the Spanish Civil War and the second World War.

Defeated nominees

Speaking before the vote, Fianna Fáil councillor Tim Brosnan said whatever the outcome, the council should look at renaming some other features after some of the defeated nominees, and he said the Shandon Footbridge should be renamed after Mother Jones given she was born in Shandon.

Cork City Council officials have estimated that the bridge will see up to 3.9 million users a year

According to Cork City Council, it's expected the new bridge, when fully operational following its official opening in May, will carry up to 11,000 pedestrians and cyclists daily between the Victorian Quarter, comprising MacCurtain Street and surrounding areas, and the city centre.

Cork City Council officials have estimated that the bridge will see up to 3.9 million users a year and result in a cutting of journey times of 1.8 minutes per day, which will equate to savings of €11.20 per hour in journey times for recreation and work and will add over €800,000 to the local economy per annum.

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times