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Double Take: The 141-year-old Dublin bridge that played a part in the 1916 Rising

It’s Dublin’s hidden viaduct.

THE HA’PENNY BRIDGE, Samuel Beckett Bridge and James Joyce Bridge are among the most well-known structures that span across the River Liffey, but what about those whose names are less familiar? For example, the Liffey Viaduct, or Tarbhealach na Life as Gaeilge.

A viaduct is a bridge which carries a road or railway over a valley or low-lying ground, and the design was first engineered by the Romans. 

If you’ve ever visited the Phoenix Park or Heuston Station, you’ll have been minutes from the bridge – but being hidden away from the main road means it remains one of Dublin’s lesser-known structures.

Crossing from the back of Heuston Station to the north river bank, near Conyngham Road, the Liffey Viaduct links the station with the north side of the city via a tunnel, running for 692 metres under the Phoenix Park.

Here’s what the bridge looks like at the approach to the tunnel:

Source: Iarnrod Eireann/YouTube

It is one of two railway bridges that cross the river within the city – the other being the Loopline Bridge completed in 1891, which is certainly better known (pictured below).

The Liffey Viaduct bridge, which was constructed between 1872 and 1877, according to BridgesofDublin.ie, is made of wrought iron, a common bridge building material of the Industrial Revolution. The lattice pattern and truss design are also classic of the era.

Spanning a total of 34m, the bridge was built to facilitate the interchange of rail traffic between three of the five Irish railway stations at the time.

 

For years it was mainly used for goods, with passenger trains only running when when large crowds were expected, such as on the day of the All Ireland Finals. However, it reopened to passenger traffic in 2016.

3 Source: Google Maps

Despite being relatively unknown, the Liffey Viaduct had a part to play in the capital’s revolutionary history. On the evening of Easter Sunday 1916, British troops were transferred across the bridge to take control of the river bank at the North Wall.

Furthermore, during The Emergency (throughout the years of the Second World War) surplus food supplies were taken by train into the tunnel for storage. 

2 Source: Google Maps

Despite being built some 141 years ago, the bridge has never suffered a strike and subsequent rebuild or repair, meaning it remains in its original state.

While it’s by no means one of Ireland’s most visually striking bridges, the function of the Liffey Viaduct makes it no less important than the rest. 

More: Double Take: The bench in St Stephen’s Green celebrating a little-known married couple

More: Double Take: The 70ft statue in Dublin Bay that took 22 years to complete 

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