Grattan Bridge

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Grattan Bridge

Droichead Grattan
Grattan Bridge
Coordinates53°20′45″N 6°16′04″W / 53.3457°N 6.2678°W / 53.3457; -6.2678Coordinates: 53°20′45″N 6°16′04″W / 53.3457°N 6.2678°W / 53.3457; -6.2678
CrossesRiver Liffey
Preceded byBuilt 1676 - Essex Bridge
Rebuilt 1753 - Essex Bridge
Rebuilt 1872 - Grattan Bridge
MaterialStone, iron
No. of spans5 (2 semicircular & 3 elliptical arches)
DesignerGeorge Semple (1750s build). B.B. Stoney & P. Neville (1870s widening)[1]
Grattan Bridge, looking from the southside to the northside
One of the ornate cast iron lamp standards on the bridge, featuring the mythical hippocampus: half horse, half fish. The same creatures appear on lamp posts next to the statue of Grattan on College Green.
A night view of Grattan Bridge

Grattan Bridge (Irish: Droichead Grattan)[2] is a road bridge spanning the River Liffey in Dublin, Ireland, and joining Capel Street to Parliament Street and the south quays.


The first bridge on this site was built by Sir Humphrey Jervis in 1676.[3][4] It was named as Essex Bridge to honour Arthur Capell, 1st Earl of Essex, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. It joined several of Jervis' developments (including Capel Street and Jervis Street) to the opposite side of the river and to Dublin Castle. Essex Bridge was an arched stone structure with 7 piers, and apparently partly constructed from the ruined masonry of nearby St. Mary’s Abbey on the northside.[1] In 1687 the bridge was damaged by a flood resulting in the loss of a hackney and two horses. The damage to the bridge was only partially repaired.[5]

In 1751 the second most northerly pier collapsed and damaged the adjacent arches.[1] Between 1753 and 1755 the bridge was rebuilt by George Semple, to correct flood and other structural damage and as one of the first initiatives of the Wide Streets Commission.[1] During this construction, some original features were removed, including the Equestrian Statue Of George I, by John van Nost the Elder,[6] which was moved in 1798 to the gardens of the Mansion House. In 1937 it was bought by the Barber Institute for Fine Arts in Birmingham, in front of which it now stands.[6] For much of the 18th century, Essex Bridge was the most westerly bridge on the Liffey.[7]

From 1872, the bridge was further remodelled (on Westminster Bridge in London), being widened and flattened with cast iron supports extended out from the stonework so as to carry pavements on either side of the roadway.[1] The bridge was (and is still) lit by ornate lamp standards also in cast iron.[3]

The bridge was reopened as Grattan Bridge in 1874, being named after Henry Grattan MP (1746-1820).

Recent development[edit]

From 2002, Dublin City Council undertook a reconstruction of the bridge deck,[8] with granite paving for the footpaths and a set of benches with wooden seats and toughened glass backs.[9]

As part of what was intended to be a "European-style book market", in 2004 several temporary kiosks (prefabricated in Spain) were also controversially built on the bridge. Originally intended to create "a contemporary version of an inhabited bridge, such as the Ponte Vecchio in Florence",[10] these kiosks were later removed.[11]


As is tradition among Dubliners, the name used locally for the bridge will vary from Capel Street Bridge, to Grattan Bridge and the original Essex Bridge.


  1. ^ a b c d e Project history of Dublin's River Liffey bridges (PDF). Bridge Engineering 156 Issue BE4 (Report). Phillips & Hamilton. p. 162.
  2. ^ "Droichead Grattan / Grattan Bridge". Irish Placenames Commission. Retrieved 8 December 2016.
  3. ^ a b "Grattan Bridge, Dublin". Archiseek. 2010. Retrieved 8 December 2016.
  4. ^ "Overview | Grattan Bridge | Bridges of Dublin". Retrieved 2020-11-09.
  5. ^ Lennon, Colm, and Montague, John (2010). John Roque's Dublin: A guide to the Georgian City. Dublin: Royal Irish Academy.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  6. ^ a b De Courcy, John (1988). Anna Liffey. The river of Dublin. Dublin: O'Brien Press.
  7. ^ "Local History - Temple Bar". Archived from the original on 30 December 2006.
  8. ^ "Grattan Bridge - Timeline". Dublin City Council. Retrieved 13 July 2020.
  9. ^ "Council to move kiosks as book market idea fails". Irish Times. 13 August 2007. Retrieved 13 July 2020.
  10. ^ "Liffey kiosks are 'visual vandalism', council told". Irish Times. 13 February 2004.
  11. ^ "Grattan Bridge kiosks gone". Irish Times. 3 April 2008.