The Ha’penny Bridge
Ha’penny Bridge – A lantern over the Liffey
The Ha’penny Bridge is one of the world’s most well-known bridges. Anyone travelling to Dublin for a short break or extended holiday will find it a wonderful gateway between the Northside of Dublin and Temple Bar. Although the Bridge is not one of Dublin’s most incredible man-made structures it has gained, much like the Molly Malone statue, an iconic place in the hearts of Dublin residents and visitors to the city. If you have ever sent or received a postcard from a Dublin holiday then there is a good chance that the Ha’penny Bridge will appear on it somewhere.
Whilst ‘The Ha’penny Bridge is the most common name for the bridge it also has several other names: the official name is the Liffey Bridge; the historical name is the Wellington Bridge; whilst the Gaelic Irish name is Droichead na Life. The Bridge, which was cast of iron in Shropshire England, was originally named after the Duke of Wellington. It was built in 1816 by William Walsh – as an alternative to the dangerous ferry crossings that were operated at that time – and gained the name ‘Ha’penny Bridge’ because pedestrians were charged one Halfpenny to cross over to the North side of the River Liffey. The ferry crossings were made defunct and the Halfpenny charge for walking over the Bridge was the exact toll that had been charged for the ferry crossing. Fortunately for today’s Dubliners and holiday makers there is no charge.
Part of the reason for the Ha’penny Bridge’s popularity is that, as one of Dublin’s two pedestrian bridges, those crossing over do not have to share their crossing with cars or other vehicles. In fact until 1999, the year of the Millenium Bridge’s construction, the Ha’penny was central Dublin’s only footbridge. The Ha’penny is sandwiched between the more impressive O’Connell Bridge- one of Dublin’s oldest bridges, and the Millenium Bridge – one of Dublin’s newest. But the Ha’penny Bridge is undoubtedly the most decorative, best constructed and most beautiful of all Dublin’s bridges.
The Bridge has three lamps which are supported by curved ironwork over the walkway. On the approaches to the iron walkway, on both sides of the river, there is a stone wall with a concrete finish that supports and leads up tastefully to the Bridge proper. The three lamps light up the way to Temple Bar from those travelling to temple Bar from the Northside and vice-versa. The railings on either side of the walkway are very thin and very close together, which adds to the view whilst making it sure you wont fall in to the roiling waters beneath. This old bridge does creak occasionally and is known to bounce a little, but it is very safe, we can assure you! However, as the main gateway between the Northside and Temple Bar, the Ha’penny has become something of a magnet for beggars and pickpockets. Therefore it is advisable that you keep anything valuable out of sight as you cross the bridge.
The Bridge was the subject of an extensive renovation in 2001, but this work did not replace much of the original structure and the bridge retains its beautiful white colour and decorative flourishes. In recent years the bridge has come to be a symbol of passion and romance in the city, due to its romantic appearance and its position as the main pedestrian footbridge between Temple Bar and the Northside of Dublin. Many a girlfriend and boyfriend have began their courtship on this bridge; many a marriage proposal has been accepted on this the most romantic of Ireland’s bridges. The holidaymaker should note the lovelocks that have been attached to the railings of the structure. Who knows – if you find some holiday romance you too may leave one of your own?