THE Fermoy viaduct which starred in World War I film 'Blue Max' is set to shine again as part of a walkway that’s expected to become one of Ireland’s major tourist attractions.
The viaduct featured in the 1966 film that starred Ursula Andress, George Peppard and James Mason when German biplanes and triplanes flew underneath the bridge that stands over the River Blackwater.
Fermoy councillor Noel Mc Carthy confirmed that the viaduct will receive European tourism funding of up to €250,000 to make it a spur route for the European E8 path; a 4,700km walk across Europe, from Cork to Turkey.
"It will be a fantastic amenity and tourist attraction that will bring more footfall to Fermoy and put Fermoy back on the map," Mr McCarthy said.
The walk is expected to become one of the world’s most sought-after walking routes, attracting keen hikers and walkers from around the globe. It’s also tipped to be the nation’s inland answer to the hugely popular Wild Atlantic Way.
Valerie Murphy, chief executive of the Avondhu Blackwater Partnership, hopes the bridge will be open by next summer.
"What is proposed is to attach a safety barrier, that can be unattached, on the outside of the bridge, one that will not interfere with the bridge itself, or the old structure which is in very good shape," she said.
"It will become part of the E8 that comes through Europe into England and down through Ireland. It comes in through the mountain barracks on the border of Limerick, Tipperary, Cork and Kerry."
The development is part of an overall plan to promote north Cork amenities, such as Mallow Castle and Doneraile.
Ms Murphy said, "We’re looking at the north Cork area and developing those amenities and that will hopefully bring tourists - local, national and international tourists - to Fermoy and north Cork."
The initiative aims to preserve and promote the viaduct's heritage but will not directly interfere with the structure itself, she added.
"The viaduct has been idle since 1967, but the outcome will be very positive for the town of Fermoy and for County Cork. It’s taken a long time to come to fruition."
The railway line operated until March 1967, according to local historian Christy Roche.
"It was built by the Duke of Devonshire in the 1860s and he didn’t ever run it himself but it was run by the Great Southern Western Railways," he said.
Mr Roche said Sir John Betjeman, the British Poet Laureate, who was known for writing about railways, immortalised the line when he wrote about it in one of his poems, 'A Lament for Moira.'