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Posts Tagged ‘liffey’

It’s a good question for a pub quiz- How many bridges span the Liffey from Heuston Station to where Dublin meets the sea? No doubt you’ll get a plethora of answers, but you’ll rarely get the right one. You can guarantee people will forget that two bridges traverse the water at Heuston, they’ll forget about the little Rory O’Moore Bridge that has more history than most of them, or the DART Loopline at Butt Bridge. They might even forget the ugly abomination that is the East Link, the last connection between Northside and Southside before Dublin Bay separates the two…

Perhaps Dublin's best known bridge, The Ha'Penny Bridge.

The correct answer, if you want to know, is seventeen, starting at Sean Heuston Bridge and working all the way along the river to the Eastlink Bridge at Dublin Port. I’m not going to cover them all in this piece; I won’t be covering the bridges we all know, like O’Connell Bridge or the Ha’penny Bridge for that matter. What I will do is take a look at some of the ones to the west of O’Connell Bridge; ones I find interesting mainly due to who they’re named after or because of their historical importance.

-Sean Heuston Bridge (ex-King’s Bridge, Sarsfield Bridge) 1829

The first incarnation of the bridge was built in 1828/ 9 and named Kings Bridge to commemorate a visit by George IV to Dublin in 1821.  After the declaration of the Free State  in 1922, it was renamed Sarsfield Bridge, in memory of Patrick Sarsfield, leader of the Jacobite Rebellion of 1641. (I’ll talk about the 1641 Rebellion later.) In 1941 the bridge was again re-named, this time after Sean Heuston, a member of Na Fianna h-Éireann who played a prominent role in the Easter Rising of 1916.

At 19 years of age, Seán Heuston was Captain of a twenty three strong company of men, mostly Fianna h-Éireann members around his own age, who were directed by James Connolly to take “The  Mendicity (Institute on Ushers Island) at all costs”. Their goal was to prevent British re-inforcements coming into the city from The Curragh Camp and the West. They held out until Wednesday afternoon, until they were scattered by the 10th Battalion of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers. One of the more striking stories of the Rebellion (or one of countless stories to tell of that week) is that of the Liutenant of the 10th Battalion, Lieutenant Gerald Aloysius Neilan who was shot and killed by a sniper from the Mendicity, while his brother Anthony Neilan took part in the Rising on the Rebel side. He was one of two Liutenants killed in Dublin that day, with another nine members of the 10th Batt. killed at the Mendicity,  as per a report to Prime Minister Asquith by General Sir John Maxwell.  Seán Houston was captured with 22 other men and executed by firing squad on May 8, 1916 in Kilmainham Jail on the charge that he “… did take part in an armed rebellion and in the waging of wars against His Majesty the king such act of being of such a nature as to be calculated to be prejudicial to the defence of the Realm and being done with the intention and for the purpose of assisting the enemy.”

 Kingsbridge Station was later renamed Heuston Station in his honour.

Nothing like this anymore of course, theres more silt than water under it, and the LUAS runs across it!

The Bridge itself was reconstructed in 2003 and now carries the LUAS from Tallaght to the Point.

– Rory O’Moore Bridge, (ex- Victoria & Albert Bridge, Queen Victoria Bridge) Watling Street to Ellis Street, 1859 (Previous structures: 1670, 1704)

“Oh lives there the traitor who’d shrink from the strife, who would add to the length of his forfeited life. And his country, his kindred, his faith would abjure; No we’ll strike for old Ireland and Rory O’Moore.” (more…)

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Jumping into the River Liffey has been a dangerous pastime for Dubliners for centuries. Some do it for kicks, others for bets and others just to cool down during hot summer days. A quick scan of The Irish Times archive showcases the long running (and often deadly) activity.

An Irish Times article from March 1890 relates the story of a Miss Marie Finny, “a professional swimmer” who was arrested just before she attempted to jump into the river off O’Connell Bridge. [1]

In 1909, a hotel porter called Hugh Bernard McGrath was rescued from the Liffey after he got into difficulty swimming after jumping from the eastern parapet of O’Connell Bridge. [2]

A “strange affair” was reported in 1932 which concerned an “unknown man” who was seen swimming in the liffey late one Monday evening. It was reported did not “take any notice” of two life buoys that were thrown towards him or a boat that passed. He soon got into difficulty and drowned. [3]

In 1939, a soldier named James Donlan (25) “disappeared” while swimming in the Liffey. It took a extensive search operation to find his body. [4]

The body of Michael Kinsella, 35, a labourer in the Guinness brewery was found in the Liffey in 1954. It was believed that he entered the river “to settle a wager”. [5]

There were also cases of young men drowning in the Liffey in August 1968, January 1977 and December 1986.

In 1994, a Scottish tourist drowned after trying to swim across the Liffey in the early hours of Saturday morning. [6]

As you can see from the youtube clips below, jumping into the Liffey is as popular as ever. (Come Here To Me! does not reccomend it.)

1. Anon, Attempt to jump from O’Connell Bridge into the Liffey, The Irish Times Saturday, March 29, 1890
2. Anon, Rescue from the Liffey, The Irish Times, Saturday, July 10, 1909
3. Anon, Man Drowned In The Liffey, The Irish Times, Tuesday, January 19, 1932
4. Anon, Soldier Drowned In The Liffey, The Irish Times, Friday, August 18, 1939
5. Anon, Swimmers Body Taken From Liffey, The Irish Times, Monday, November 15, 1954
6. Anon, Tourist Dies Trying To Swim Liffey, The Irish Times, Monday, May 30, 1994

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