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New Cork bridge could be named after Mary Elmes, the 'Irish Oskar Schindler'

It is hoped construction will begin on the bridge by the end of this year or beginning of 2019.

PLANS ARE UNDERWAY to have a new bridge in Cork city named after Mary Elmes, who is known as the ‘Irish Oskar Schindler’.

Fianna Fáil Councillor Kenneth O’Flynn proposed the idea at a Cork City Council meeting earlier this month.

When it was announced in September of last year that the pedestrian bridge would be constructed between Merchant’s Quay and Patrick’s Quay, the Evening Echo said that politicians believed it should be named in honour of a Cork woman.

This week, O’Flynn told that councillors will have agreement on the issue in the next number of weeks, and he is confident that the proposal to name the bridge after Mary Elmes will go to public consultation.

“It was extremely popular and well supported and I think people see the importance of Mary Elmes as an international figure as well as a national figure, and her contribution to the Holocaust survivors,” he said.

He added: “We only have one other bridge in Cork named after a woman – Nano Nagle Bridge.”

He said that Elmes was born on Winthrop Street, which is just off Patrick St. She died at the age of 93 in Perpignan in France.

Elmes is credited with saving the lives of at least 200 Jewish children during the time of the Holocaust. Having studied at Trinity College Dublin, she became involved in refugee work during the Spanish Civil War.

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A documentary about her life, which is narrated by Winona Ryder, has been made by Irishman Andrew Gallimore. Author Clodagh Finn has also written a book about Mary Elme’s life, called A Time To Risk It All.

Yad Vashem, which is the World Holocaust Remembrance Center, has named Mary Elmes one of the ‘righteous among the nations’. It said:

Elmes joined forces with the Jewish OSE organization and especially with Dr. Joseph Weill and Andrée Salomon, who were active in the rescue of Jews. Until mid-August 1942 children could be legally released from the camps, but on August 11 deportations of Jews from the camp of Rivesaltes began, first to Drancy near Paris, and from there to Auschwitz. From that time until the camp closed on 25 November 1942, the authorities no longer released children from the camp. Elmes was fully aware of the meaning of the deportations.
Lois Gunden (an American Mennonite who was recognized as Righteous Among the Nations in 2012 for rescuing children in the same region) wrote in her journal: “Mary informed me about the return of Polish and German Jews to Poland where death and starvation awaits them”. Braving the danger, Elmes and her Jewish colleagues smuggled children out of the camp and brought them to safe places.

It is anticipated that construction will begin on the new bridge at the end of 2018 or beginning of 2019, and O’Flynn said he “would be very hopeful” that the bridge will end up being named after Mary Elmes.

“People have been getting to know the story nationally and internationally.

“It would be a fitting tribute to one of Cork’s daughters.”

Read: Poland seeking to pass laws making it illegal say it was complicit in Holocaust>

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