Turtle Bunbury

Writer and Historian

 
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THE DOCKLANDS -O'CONNELL BRIDGE (1880 - PRESENT)

'Dublin Docklands - An Urban Voyageis a work in progress, commissioned by the Dublin Docklands Development Authority, and due to be completed in the autumn of 2008. The following tale represents research undertaken for the project which may or may not be used in the final book.

O'CONNELL Bridge (RIVER LIFFEY)

Connection: O’Connell Street Lower to Westmoreland Street and D'Olier Street.

Commissioner: Port & Docks Board.

Engineer: Bindon B. Stoney.

Contractor: W.J. Doherty.

Completed: May 1880.

Although not strictly in the Docklands, the impact of O’Connell Bridge is of relevance. The first bridge that spanned the Liffey at this point was Carlisle Bridge, designed by James Gandon, completed in 1795 and named for the Earl of Carlisle, one of the better Lord Lieutenants of Ireland. By the 1830s, Carlisle Bridge was already in serious disrepair with men of considerable influence calling for it to be demolished and replaced. During the 1860s, both Dublin Corporation and the Port and Docks Board attempted to grapple with the problem. Eventually, in 1876, the Board’s engineer Bindon Blood Stoney was recruited to build a new bridge. In 1877, work commenced on a new three-span stone bridge with elliptical arches. Stoney's famous Diving Bell was used to help clear the river bed down to bedrock, and the caissons were then filled with concrete. Its 46 metre width mirrored that of adjacent O’Connell Street (then Sackville Street), at the north end of which there now stood John Henry Foley’s towering monument of Daniel O’Connell. Construction began in 1877 under William Doherty, contractor, of Clonturk House. When it opened for traffic in May 1880, Gandon’s Carlisle Bridge was demolished. The bridge was renamed O’Connell Bridge by the Municipal Council in 1880.

 

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