Images: 200th birthday for Ha’Penny Bridge

Ha'Penny Bridge 200th birthday
Ha’Penny Bridge 200th birthday: A watercolour drawing by Samuel Frederick Brocas of the Ha’penny Bridge, dated 1818, looking from Aston Quay across to Bachelors’ Walk and downriver toward Grattan Bridge and the Four Courts. Image: Courtesy National Library of Ireland

Dublin’s iconic Ha’Penny Bridge – originally a toll bridge erected in honour of the Duke of Wellington, Arthur Wellesley, from Meath – has just turned 200.

The ha’penny – or half penny in old pounds, shillings and pence – was the each way toll for a hundred years from 1816, replacing an original ferry crossing.

Ha'Penny Bridge 200th birthday
Ha’Penny Bridge 200th birthday: An undated panoramic view looking east along the Liffey to the Ha’penny Bridge and O’Connell Bridge beyond. The advertising sign hung from the east side of the Ha’penny Bridge reads ‘French’s Epilepsy Remedy’. Advertising on the bridge was a common sight for many years. Photograph: Bridgesofdublin.ie/Dublin City Council

Even during the 1916 Rising the toll keepers kept charging both ways, the last year of operation as a tollbridge.

In 1987, the structure was found to be subsiding faster than the Leaning Tower of Pisa – three inches in 17 years.

Ha'Penny Bridge 200th birthday
Ha’Penny Bridge 200th birthday: The bridge decorated for the Eucharistic Congress in June 1932. Photograph courtesy of the Irish Architectural Archive

In 2001 Dublin Corporation spent nearly €2 million restoring it with Belfast steelworks and shipbuilders among the contractors.

In recent years, following the fashion in many other international cities, there has been a trend for lovers – young or old – to proclaim their mutual affection by attaching padlocks or so-called “love locks” despite, or even because of, a prohibition on them.

Ha'Penny Bridge 200th birthday
Ha’Penny Bridge 200th birthday: The bridge decorated for the Eucharistic Congress in June 1932. Photograph courtesy of the Irish Architectural Archive

On Thursday descendants of the original architects and officials who commissioned the bridge were invited to take part in a ceremonial north-south crossing followed by a talk on its history at City Hall.

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