The Ha'Penny Bridge
The Ha'Penny Bridge is one of Dublin's most famous landmarks. The bridge is a pedestrian crossing over the river Liffey between Swifts Row and Wellington Quay. The bridge's official name is "Liffey Bridge" but is known to everybody in Ireland as the Ha'Penny Bridge in memory of its toll which was one halfpenny. It is the oldest pedestrian bridge in Dublin, and also the most famous. The bridge dates back to 1816 and was Originally called the Wellington Bridge in memory of the Duke of Wellington.
The bridge was constructed using cast iron, a material that is prone to bad decay with aging. In recent times the bridge was closed while extensive repairs were carried out by Harland and Wolff who were made famous for constructing the Titanic. The Bridge arcs over the Liffey and is crowned by three lamps. Spectacular views can be seen from the bridge during any time of the day, and if you are planning to visit Dublin, a crossing is an absolute must. Many of the postcard images of Dublin either include the Ha'Penny Bridge, or are taken from the bridge.
Prior to the construction of the bridge, ferries operated in its place, carrying passengers from one side of the Liffey to the other. The ferries were in particularly poor condition, and their proprietor, William Walsh, was given the opportunity of either repairing the boats to a satisfactory standard, or to build a bridge in their place. Walsh decided to build the bridge, and was permitted to extract a toll of one halfpenny for 100 years. The common name for the bridge, the Ha'Penny Bridge is derived from this toll. Although the toll was raised to one penny, 2 farthings, the name of the Ha'Penny Bridge stuck. The bridge has not been tolled since 1919, but the history of the toll will forever be linked with the bridge.
Since the construction of the Ha'Penny, demand for pedestrian crossings over the Liffey has increased. There were several large gaps between the original bridges over the Liffey. In recent years, two pedestrian bridges have been added to improve access and pedestrian infrastructure around Dublin. The Millennium Bridge was opened in 1999 to mark the Millennium and more recently, the Sean O'Casey Bridge was opened in 2005.
The Dublin Spire
The Dublin Spire was erected between December 2002 and January 2003 on Dublin's main thoroughfare, O'Connell Street. Nothing of note had been erected on this spot since the removal of Nelson's Pillar in 1966. The Spire was designed by Ian Ritchie Architects and is a stretched cone shape which tapers from a 3m diameter at the foot to 15cm at the summit. The Spire is constructed from 8 hollow tubes of stainless steel which were assembled on site on O'Connell Street using a complicated crane and pulley system.
It had been originally hopped that the Spire would be completed by 2000 and erected to mark the millennium, but planning and environmental regulations resulted in a delay of 3 years. The Spire is not without its critics, but in general it has been very well received in Dublin and is seen as a fitting replacement for Nelson's Pillar. Since its construction, the Spire has been nominated for multiple architectural awards, including the Stirling Architectural Prize in 2004.
Nelson's Pillar, which preceded the Spire was a controversial granite pillar with a statue of Lord Nelson erected at the summit. The Pillar was built in 1808 to honor Admiral Lord Nelson and the Battle of Trafalgar. Ireland was always a very independent nation, and did not appreciate having a monument to a British Soldier thrust upon them by their British occupiers. The Pillar was by far the tallest building in Dublin at the time, and until its demise in 1966, became a popular meeting place for the people of Dublin. The Pillar had an internal staircase to a viewing platform that gave unrivaled views over Dublin City and Bay.
Despite several attempts to have the pillar removed, including one by the then An Taoiseach Sean Lemass in 1960 who wanted to replace the statue of Admiral Lord Nelson with one of Saint Patrick, the pillar still remained. On March 8 1966 the pillar was blown up by a group of former IRA men to mark the 50th anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising. This had not been the first attempt by the IRA to have the pillar removed. In April 1954 the IRA called on Dublin corporation to seek legislation to remove the pillar, but the city fathers decided to take no action.
Today the Spire is one of Dublin's most visited tourist attractions. One of the most endearing aspects of the Spire is the fact that it reflects light so beautifully no matter what time of day. There are stunning views of the Spire from Henry Street as it seems to fill a void in the cityscape of Dublin.
O'Connell Bridge, Dublin
O'Connell Bridge spans the River Liffey and joins the North Side and South Side of Dublin. O'Connell Bridge is unique in Europe as it is the only bridge that is wider than it is long. Today the bridge marks the very centre of Dublin as it joins O'Connell Street to D'Olier Street.
Originally the bridge was named the Carlisle Bridge after the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland at the time, Frederick Howard, 5th Earl of Carlisle. The bridge was designed by James Gandon, a famous Irish architect whose name is associated with many of the great Georgian buildings in Dublin. The construction of the bridge took three years and was completed in 1794.
It wasn't until 1879 that more work took place on the bridge when it was decided that the bridge should be widened to allow greater traffic flow. The bridge was widened to the same width of Sackville Street, now O'Connell Street. The bridge was reopened in 1882 it was renamed in honour of Daniel O'Connell and a statue in his honour was erected.
O'Connell had been a famous lawyer who campaigned for the repeal of the Union between Ireland and the UK. He only used non-violent means and for this he has been remembered as a hero. He stands in stark contrast against the IRA and the UDF who used bloodshed to achieve nothing other than to tear apart a province with violence.
O'Connell Bridge isn't the only bridge so named, the second being the bridge that spans the pond in St Stephens Green. In 2004 a number of pranksters installed a plaque on O'Connell Bridge dedicated to Farther Pat Noise, a fictitious priest. The plaque remains on O'Connell Bridge to this day and wasn't noticed by the Dublin County Council until May 2006.
Dublin Castle was the centre of British Rule in Ireland from 1800 until 1922 when a treaty was signed between Ireland and England that handed Ireland back to the Irish except for the 6 counties that now form Northern Ireland. Although a castle did stand on the site that dates back to the 12th Century, much of the building today dates from the 18th Century.
In a historical sense the Castle has served in a number of guises over its history, from the seat of the Lordship of Ireland (1171 – 1541), Kingdom of Ireland (1541 – 1800) to the centre of British Rule in Ireland to its current role as a tourist attraction and a political building. The president of Ireland is inaugurated in Dublin castle and during the Irish presidency of the EU the castle was used extensively.
The Castle is situated along Dame Street in Dublin Centre and forms a large complex of buildings and courtyards which date from different times in Irish history. The courtyards and some of the surrounding streets are steeped in history and are covered in coble stones. The castle is home to some of the oldest architecture in Dublin.
If you are planning to visit Dublin, make sure to visit Dublin Castle where you will be able to take a tour of the castle which will take in the State Apartments, Undercroft and Chapel Royal. After the tour there is a restaurant, craft shop and heritage centre to be visited.