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Portumna

Portumna is a market town in the south-east of County Galway, Ireland, on the border with County Tipperary. The town is located to the west of the point where the River Shannon enters Lough Derg. This historic crossing point over the River Shannon between counties Tipperary and Galway has a long history of bridges and ferry crossings. On the south-western edge of the town lie Portumna Castle and Portumna forest park.HistoryPortumna BridgePortumna is served with a five-span road bridge over the Shannon. This was designed by C. E. Stanier of London, and completed in 1911, with a central section resting on Hayes's Island which divides the river into two channels. The steel structure of the main bridge and pivotting swing bridge over the navigation channel are of technical and engineering interest, and it is the largest early-twentieth century swivel bridge in Europe.. The opening section was replaced in October 2008.The Shannon at this point consists of two channels divided by Hayes Island, the one on the County Tipperary side being about 79 m (260 ft) wide, and that on the Galway side being about 73 m (240 ft) wide. Each channel is spanned by three pairs of mild-steel plate girders, either 24 m (80 ft) or 27 m (90 ft) in length, resting on 3 m (9 ft) diameter concrete-filled cast-iron cylinders.WorkhouseA number of Poor Law Unions were set up across Ireland during the Great Famine. The Portumna Union was formally declared on 22 February 1850, covering an area of 121sqmi as a subdivision of the Ballinasloe and Loughrea unions. The Portumna Union workhouse was erected on a 9acre site 0.5mi to the north-east of Portumna. Designed by the Poor Law Commissioners' architect George Wilkinson, the building was intended to accommodate 600 inmates who were badly affected by the lack of both employment and food at the time. Its construction cost £6,700 plus £1,175 for fittings etc., but in recent years the workhouse site has been left semi-derelict. One of the front blocks is, however, used by a local council depot. The Irish Workhouse Centre, opened in the old Portumna Workhouse during summer 2011, is the only centre telling the history of workhouses in Ireland.
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