Iconic Dublin bridge turns 200

People on the Ha'penny Bridge in Dublin celebrating its 200th birthday
People on the Ha'penny Bridge in Dublin celebrating its 200th birthday

One of Dublin’s most cherished landmarks is celebrating its 200th birthday.

The Ha’penny Bridge has spanned the Liffey since 1816, surviving rebellion and civil war and retaining its unique position as the only pedestrian walkway over the river until 1999.

Named after the toll charged for more than 100 years for the pleasure of abandoning leaky ferries for a drier crossing, it carries 30,000 people every day.

In its early years, a mere 450 people a day paid the fee to cross.

Lord Mayor of Dublin Criona Ni Dhalaigh will today mark the anniversary in a symbolic crossing with descendants of the men who commissioned it and designed it - Lord Mayor John Claudius Beresford and John Windsor.

David Windsor, speaking on behalf of his family, said: “It’s a great privilege to have been invited here to represent my great grandfather.

“At the time, it was at the forefront of technology and would have been a statement that Dublin was a forward looking city.

“I’m grateful that the people of, and visitors to, Dublin have taken it to their hearts and that the city of Dublin has cared for it for future generations to use and admire.”

Mr Windsor was a foreman in the Coalbrookdale Ironworks Foundry and reportedly oversaw the bridge’s design as it was being cast.

It is a single elliptical, iron arch structure with a 43-metre span, three metres wide and is said to rise three metres above the Liffey.

The superstructure is composed of three arch ribs, each formed in six segments and it is said to have been the first cast iron metal bridge in Ireland.

It was officially named the Liffey Bridge in 1922 and is one of 23 across the river.

Nowadays, it provides a link from Merchant’s Arch on the edge of Temple Bar to Liffey Street on the north side.

It has had various names including the Wellington - after the 1st Duke of Wellington - and also the Metal, Triangle and Iron Bridge.

Before it opened, ferry owner and alderman of the city William Walsh charged the ha’penny toll for carrying people on his leaky boats.

His service ran from a mooring near where the bridge sits now - the Bagnio Slip, which it is claimed was named after a local brothel.