People saved from the concentration camps by a Cork woman attend the official opening of the Mary Elmes Bridge

People saved from the concentration camps by a Cork woman attend the official opening of the Mary Elmes Bridge
Cllr John Sheehan, Lord Mayor of Cork, with the assistance of Patrick Danjou, son of Mary Elmes, performing the official opening of the Mary Elmes bridge. Pic: Brian Lougheed

People saved from the Holocaust by Cork woman Mary Elmes were in Cork today to witness the official opening of a bridge named in her honour.

Patrick Danjou, son of Mary Elmes with Charlotte Berger-Greneche and Georges Koltein, who, as children, were rescued from deportation to Auschwitz, from a holding camp for Jews in South West France at the unveiling of a plaque in memory of Mary Elmes. Pic: Brian Lougheed
Patrick Danjou, son of Mary Elmes with Charlotte Berger-Greneche and Georges Koltein, who, as children, were rescued from deportation to Auschwitz, from a holding camp for Jews in South West France at the unveiling of a plaque in memory of Mary Elmes. Pic: Brian Lougheed

Charlotte Berger-Greneche and Georges Koltein were amongst hundred of Jewish children that Mary helped when she worked as an aid worker in France. 

Hailed as Ireland’s Oskar Schindler, she arranged safe passage to other countries for many children and even hid some in the boot of her car so they could escape transportation to concentration camps.

The bridge linking Merchant's Quay to Patrick's Quay was named in her honour and was officially opened by the Lord Mayor of Cork today.

The ceremony was attended by children Mary helped save along with members of her family.

"A bridge is better than a wall" is how her son, Patrick Danjou, described the new structure.

Mary Elmes in the 1940s.
Mary Elmes in the 1940s.

Speaking about what his mother would have thought of the great honour bestowed upon her, Patrick said, she would not have wanted any fuss.

"She always said she did it because she had to do it."

The bridge opening also became an unofficial reunion of the Elmes family with up to 25 members of the wider family at the official event.

The Mary Elmes bridge, a pedestrian and cycle structure, cost €5 million and will be used by up to 11,000 people each day.

Lord Mayor, Cllr John Sheehan said: “We must remember today that it was the ordinary people of Cork who decided to name this bridge after Mary Elmes. The general public and the City’s Elected Members chose to honour Mary Elmes’ unstinting courage, her values and her deep humanity."

"Already, the naming of this bridge after Mary has helped to spread the story of Mary Elmes in Cork and in Ireland and that in itself is a wonderful achievement”.

Journalist and documentary maker, Paddy Butler who made a TG4 documentary on Mary Elmes and journalist and author Clodagh Finn who wrote ‘A Time to Risk All’ on Ms Elmes were also present at today's official opening.

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