We use them every day, and they’re the sole reason that we don’t have to wade through the depths of the Liffey (like so many did at one stage) to reach our preferred side.
The bridges of Dublin are dripping in history and come with some of the best stories in Dublin. So treat yourself and read up on some of Dublin’s deadliest living history…
1. Seán Heuston Bridge
This bridge’s namesake, Seán Heuston, was the youngest of those executed after the Easter Rising, at just 25 years old.
However, this bridge has had a plethora of names in its past. Before Heuston it was Sarsfield Bridge, honouring the 17th century hero, and first earl of Lucan, Patrick Sarsfield.
Prior to this, it was called The King’s Bridge, after King George IV, who chose the winning design of said bridge from a selection. Often you’ll hear Dubliners still refer to this bridge as King’s Bridge.
2. Rory O’More Bridge
The original wooden bridge on this site, built in 1670, was officially named Barrack Bridge.
However, it, quite grimly, became known by locals as Bloody Bridge, after several deaths following the arrest of ferrymen who attempted to destroy the structure.
3. Father Matthew Bridge
This bridge is built on what is thought to be the site of the first bridge over the Liffey, in the year 1014.
Prior to it being built, traders and pedestrians used to just wade through the shallow water from bank to bank to travel across. Nine warriors were slaughtered on this site while trying to get back to the city after the Battle of Clontarf later that same year.
4. O’Donovan Rossa Bridge
Also built on the site of a previous bridge, O’Donovan Rossa bridge is the second oldest of its kind in the city. On completion in 1816, its span was wider than any bridge in London, a highly revered fact at the time.
It was called Ormond Bridge back in 1760, when a pub named Mrs Archer’s tavern, on the south side of the river, plummeted into the waters below along with part of the bridge’s southern arch. There was no loss of life, just pints.
5. Grattan Bridge
Grattan Bridge, or the more commonly known Capel Street bridge, was finally completed in 1874 to add a bit of width to a previously narrower model.
Back in its original state, it featured a statue of King George I, which was removed decades later in 1753. The statue now resides in the Barber Institute of Fine Arts in Birmingham.
6. Millennium Bridge
Opening just a few days before the dawning of the third millennium, the Millennium Bridge was the second pedestrian-only bridge built in the city. The Ha’penny Bridge had been the only one for years.
Built in Carlow, the bridge was driven to Dublin on one truck, and slotted into place by a single crane. The commemorative plaque you see on the bridge also doubles up as a manhole cover. Nifty.
7. Ha’penny Bridge
Dublin’s oldest pedestrian bridge got its name, as most know, because originally, it cost half a penny to get across.
This toll in question was paid to one William Walsh, a ferry owner, who had a lease on the bridge for 100 years. It was later dropped in 1919, resulting in the removal of the turnstiles at either side.
It’s estimated that 30,000 pedestrians cross this bridge every day.
8. O’Connell Bridge
Contrary to popular belief, O’Connell bridge isn’t a perfect square, it’s wider than it is long by a mere five metres, and therefore it’s the only traffic bridge in Europe wider than it is long.
New keystones were designed to represent Anna Liffey looking westwards and the Atlantic gazing towards the open sea.
In 2004, a pair of pranksters installed a plaque on the bridge dedicated to the fictional Father Pat Noise, which remained unnoticed until May 2006, and is still there today.
9. Rosie Hackett Bridge
The newest addition to Dublin’s bridges, it opened in 2014, and is the only bridge to be named after a woman. Well, since Sarah Bridge, now Island Bridge, in 1792.
18,000 people had their say in the naming process, with 85 different suggestions eventually being whittled down to a final list of five for council vote. It will join the red and green Luas lines in 2017.
10. Talbot Memorial Bridge
Talbot Memorial Bridge was named after the quite remarkable Matthew Talbot, an inner city dweller who was a drunkard by the age of 12.
At age 16, he turned to God, gave up drinking and fought temptation by praying and attending mass each morning at 5am. He also punished his body by sleeping on a plank, wearing heavy chains and knotted ropes daily. Alright, then. It’s the only beam bridge crossing the Liffey in the city.
11. Seán O’Casey Bridge
The third and final pedestrianised bridge in Dublin, the Seán O’Casey bridge is named as such because, in a Tale of Two Cities-type twist, the area surrounding was transformed from a barren wasteland to a thriving metropolis of activity, inspired by the words of dramatist Seán O’Casey:
“Take heart from your city’s hidden splendour”
In true Dubliner fashion, the bridge has been baptised with many a witty nickname. For some it is the ‘Bingo Bridge’, allowing bingo enthusiasts from either sides of the river to frequent each other’s bingo halls.
Others have christened it the ‘Quiver in the River’, due to the apparent bounce in its structure.
12. Samuel Beckett Bridge
The visually-striking structure that is Samuel Beckett bridge was designed by Spaniard Santiago Calatrava, who was inspired by both the flip of a coin and the idea of an Irish harp rotating through the air.
The force on the back cables of the bridge is akin to the weight of 80,000 people – a full house at Croker.