The Ha’penny Bridge, Dublin’s most iconic landmark pedestrian bridge, turns 200 today, and is looking pretty good for its age.
We have all at some stage in our lives crossed over the Ha’penny Bridge, probably without paying too much attention to the structure itself, and more concerned with making the pedestrian lights on either side. We might look upon it from time to time while travelling down the quays, or from the other bridges over the Liffey, and dismiss it offhand as a tourist attraction.
But not today. No, today the Ha’penny Bridge celebrates its 200th anniversary. Today, we all love the Ha’penny Bridge. It is part of who we are, part of the very fabric of Dublin. To mark this auspicious occasion, there will be a ceremonial crossing of the bridge at 12.30pm, followed by talks about the famous structure from 2pm to 4pm at City Hall.
The Ha’penny Bridge was the first pedestrian bridge to cross the River Liffey, and the only pedestrian bridge to span the river until the neighbouring Millennium Bridge opened in 1999. It has a 43 metre span, is 3 metres wide, and rises 3 metres above the Liffey. The superstructure is composed of three arch ribs, each formed in six segments.
Refurbishment works in 2001 saw the bridge being dismantled, piece by piece, and sent up North to be restored to its original grandeur. It was officially reopened in December 2001. In 2014, the love lock craze created some major problems for Dublin City Council, threatening the structural integrity of the bridge.
From the time of opening, the Ha’penny Bridge only saw modest daily foot traffic, no doubt due to the ha’penny toll that was charged to cross it. Things are a bit different in modern day Dublin, with an average of 30,000 people using the bridge each day. And we guess that number might rise again today!
Bachelor’s Walk / Aston Quay