The Bridge of Sorrows
A Story of Famine, Poverty, and Tears
It is a sad and painful episode of Donegal history that many were forced to leave home, family and friends in the hope of a better life abroad. A little bridge, in a rural setting of West Donegal, still stands today to bear witness to all those who left the land and people they loved for an often unfulfilled dream of a better life abroad.
On the outskirts of the village of Falcarragh stands the small bridge named locally as the ‘The Bridge of Sorrows’. During the 19th and early 20th century, families would walk to the bridge with loved ones who were leaving home to escape famine and poverty; hoping for a better life in America, Canada & Australia.
In those times the chances of parents ever seeing their children again were practically non-existent, as the journey was long, hazardous and expensive. There was also the understanding that many of those who took the trip would never make it; dying of sickness and disease on ships transporting them in appalling conditions.
Thousands of people passed over the bridge on their way to Derry port in search of a better life. Many who bid farewell to their friends and relatives on this bridge would also leave from this same spot a year or two later.
The name, The Bridge of Sorrows, comes from local oral tradition. In the Falcarragh area, it is also known as ‘The Crying Bridge’ or ‘Bridge of Tears.’ The Bridge of Sorrows is a more modern translation for this bridge which lies on the road from Falcarragh to Kilmacrenan.
A memorial stone near the bridge reads (English translation): “Friends and relations of the person emigrating would come this far. Here they parted. This spot is the Bridge of Tears”.