Bridges of Ireland

Ardfinnan Bridge, County Tipperary

Ireland's been building bridges for centuries in more ways than one. Here are some beauties to stop, admire and soak up the back stories!

The legends

The Quiet Man Bridge, County Galway: This stone bridge arches over the Owenriff River, and marks possibly a poignant scene from The Quiet Man. The big man Sean Thornton (John Wayne) is back from America to claim his family homestead and it’s here, from the bridge, that he spies it for the first time. 

Gap of Dunloe, County Kerry: The Gap of Dunloe was once home to Kate Kearney whose legendary hospitality began in a síbín (illegal bar), where she distilled an illegal form of poitin (alcoholic drink) – Kate Kearney’s Mountain Dew. Kate ignored the law, selling it to tired travellers who would pass over this ‘wishing bridge’ to take a sip. The cottage still welcomes visitors to this day – albeit without Kate’s Mountain Dew on the menu!

Foley’s Bridge in Tollymore Forest Park, County Down: One of 16 bridges that span the Shimna River in Tollymore Forest Park – a filming location for HBO’s Game of Thrones® – it’s said that James Hamilton, 2nd Earl of Clanbrassil, and his wife, Grace Foley, did not have children, so it’s believed it was named after the 2nd Earl of Clanbrassill’s nieces, both named Harriet Foley, in 1787.

City structures

Thomond Bridge, Limerick: King John's Castle was erected between 1200-1210 to defend the arches of Thomond Bridge, which crossed the mighty river Shannon between Limerick and Clare. All at the bequest of King John, the brother of Richard the Lionheart. 

Peace Bridge, Derry~Londonderry City: Connecting two sides of the river Foyle, the Peace Bridge is designed for pedestrians and cyclists, and stretches from Guildhall Square on the west bank to Ebrington on the east bank – and has quite literally reconnected two once divided communities. 

Ha’penny Bridge, Dublin: Although it was christened the Liffey Bridge back in 1922, Dubliners will forever know it as the Ha’penny Bridge. Built to replace the city's ferry service, this cast-iron pedestrian structure was first opened in 1816 and the toll was the same as the old ferry’s. 

Natural beauties

Bridges of Ross and Tullan Strand Fairy Bridge, Wild Atlantic Way: Once a trio of natural sea arches, the last remaining “Bridge” of Ross can be found near the village of Kilbaha in County Clare and boasts blissful sea views. Meanwhile, up in Donegal, the Fairy Bridge in Bundoran is a similar gift from the Ocean, although wasn’t always so cherished: locals in the 1700s were convinced these bridges were haunted by the fairies!

Via the viaducts

Glendun and Tassagh viaducts: With our undulating landscapes, old stone viaducts are a gorgeous sight to behold. Keep your eyes peeled between the trees for the Causeway Coastal Route’s Glendun over the river Dun, which took five years to complete (1839) and is known as the Big Bridge by locals. Or the awesome sight of the Tassagh Railway Viaduct, which linked Armagh to Castleblaney in County Monaghan.

The Gobbins Cliff Path, County Antrim: The Gobbins Cliff Path was created over 100 years ago in 1902 and was enjoyed by many over the years before closing in 1954. Cue the 21st century and visitors can fall in love with its unique perspective all over again. Our attention is drawn to the metal expanse of the Tubular Bridge, an exposed tubular walkway hanging 10 metres above the sea – and as close to walking on water as you can get!

 

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