Turtle Bunbury

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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 I have undertaken for the project which may or may not be used in the final book.

THE Talbot Memorial Bridge

Connection: Memorial Road to Moss Street.

Commissioner: Dublin Municipal Corporation.

Designer: DeLeuw, Chadwick & Ó hEocha ((now incorporated into Mott McDonald EPO Ltd).[1]

Consultants: Mott, Hay & Anderson, London.

Visual Consultants: Tyndall Hogan Hurley, Dublin

Builders: Ascon Limited

Opened: 14th February 1978

By the 1970s, Dublin City was adjusting to a new age in congestion problems. Butt Bridge was unable to cope with two-way traffic. The solution reached was to make Butt Bridge a one-way northbound crossing and to build a new one-way bridge downstream of the Custom House for southbound traffic. This would also remove traffic eastwards from the city centre. The Talbot was the first Liffey bridge in Dublin to use pre-stressed concrete as a structural medium. It was designed to carry four lanes of traffic plus two footpaths, giving a total width of 72 ft. The greatest downside of the Talbot was aesthetic; after nearly 200 years, ships were no longer able to moor outside the Custom House. Indeed, considerable sections of both Custom House Quay and George’s Quay were no longer available to shipping. As such the maintenance of these quay walls was deemed the responsibility of the Corporation. One of the major implications of this was that Guinness transferred all their port operations from their berths on Custom House Quay to City Quay. The blue and cream Guinness barges were a much loved part of city life before this.

The bridge has three spans, with an aggregated length of 80 metres, and a width of 22 metres between the parapets. The centre span is 34 metres long. The maximum depth of water under the bridge is 8.9 metres. The bridge was opened by Michael Collins, Lord Mayor of Dublin, on Valentine’s Day 1978. Its peak traffic capacity is rated as 2,400 vehicles per hour.

The bridge’s name commemorates both the temperance campaigner Matt Talbot (1856 – 1925) and all the sailors of Dublin who died at sea. Talbot was a working class hero who started work bottling Guinness and stacking bonded whiskey in the Docklands, then gave up. For the last 25 years of his life, the reformed alcoholic worked in the timber yard of Messrs. T & C Martin on the North Wall. The eccentric Talbot was famed for wearing chains wherever he went; his fame was such that Pope Paul VI declared him Venerable in 1975. His statue stands at the south end of the bridge.

[1] The same team designed the Jack Lynch Tunnel in Cork.



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