Bridges are quite a big tourist attraction here in Dublin (perhaps, in European countries, in general). I remembered the first time I arrived here, my husband excitedly showed me around the city to show some of the famous attractions in Dublin – bridges being one of the highlights. And for every visitor we get around, my husband makes sure to repeat the entire “bridges tour” over again!
Bridges of Dublin are such a big deal not only because of their practical usage in our everyday life – some of them truly eye-catching, too! We may take for granted these bridges since we see (or use) it daily. So reading on a bit of its history makes us a lot more appreciative of the existence of these bridges.
To get started, listed here are some of the Bridges of Dublin to check out!
Samuel Beckett Bridge
It is hard to miss this beauty – especially if you are around the Docklands area. The huge cable-stayed bridge was designed by Santiago Calatrava and resembles a harp lying on its edge. Initially, I didn’t “get” the harp image but if you move farther away from it to see in its entirety – then it is easier to spot Ireland’s national symbol!
This bridge joining Sir Rogerson’s Quay on the south side of River Liffey and North Wall Quay in the Docklands area opens through a 90-degree angle on the side. This is made possible through a rotational mechanism located at the base of a pylon, allowing tall ships to pass through.
This bridge was named after one of Ireland’s famous writers, Samuel Beckett. It reportedly cost 60 million Euros to build the bridge and was officially opened to pedestrians by Dublin Lord Mayor, Emer Costello on 10th of December 2009. The following day at 7 AM, it was also opened to road traffic.
Ha’Penny Bridge (Liffey Bridge)
This is quite an old bridge and was built in May 1816 over the River Liffey in Dublin. Originally tagged as the Wellington Bridge (named after the Duke of Wellington), they eventually renamed it to Liffey Bridge – and it is still the official name as it is today. However, despite Liffey Bridge being the official name of this bridge, there is a very interesting historical background why most people endearingly call it as Ha’Penny Bridge.
Before the bridge was built, crossing the River Liffey was made through ferries. And at the time, there were seven ferries alternately doing the arduous task – all of which were operated by William Walsh. However, the ferries were in bad shape. And so, he was told to choose between fixing the ferries or creating a bridge – he chose the latter.
In order to cover the expenses of the bridge, Walsh received the right to extract a toll to each individual using the bridge for the next 100 years. Initially, the identified toll fee was ha’penny (halfpenny) – the same cost paid for the ferry ride. The fee eventually increased but the term “ha’penny” more likely stuck that’s why it is still widely used today.
O’ Connell Bridge
Another “old” bridge in Dublin city center is the O’ Connell Bridge. Originally named as Carlisle Bridge (named after Frederick Howard, 5th Earl of Carlisle), this bridge was built between 1791 and 1794 and designed by James Gandon – the same designer of another historical building, The Custom House.
In 1860, the Carlisle Bridge underwent a makeover. The aim was to relieve traffic congestion in the city – so plans to widen the bridge to have the same width as Sackville Street (now O’Connell Street). This move made this bridge unique in Europe – as it is wider than it’s long.
The bridge reopened in 1882. Apart from the makeover, the bridge was renamed to O’ Connell Bridge (as it is today) at the same time Daniel O’ Connell’s statue was unveiled.