A Walk Along Liffey River, Dublin

A Walk Along Liffey River (Self Guided), Dublin

The Liffey River is a major waterway that flows through the Irish capital, stretching approximately 125 kilometers (78 miles) and dividing the city into two halves: the Northside and the Southside.

A stroll along the river is bound to take you to the places steeped in history, associated with the events and people that played a significant role in the culture and development of Dublin, the legacy of which is kept alive throughout generations.

As you venture along the historic waterway, behold the graceful arc of the Samuel Beckett Bridge. Standing as an emblematic symbol of Dublin, this striking modern landmark, envisioned by the masterly touch of the renowned Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, has sleek contours reminiscent of a harp's gentle curve.

The halls of EPIC, the interactive Irish Emigration Museum, invite you to embark on a transformative voyage through the annals of the Irish diaspora and its global impact. Further ahead, a solemn tribute unfolds at the Famine Memorial, a poignant ensemble of bronze sculptures that whispers the anguish endured during the Great Famine in Ireland between 1845 and 1852.

Gazing upon the late 18th-century Custom House, you are bound to be transported to an era of architectural opulence and stately grandeur. The visionary genius of architect James Gandon unfurls in the symphony of neoclassical splendor that adorns its façade.

Gracefully spanning the Liffey River, Butt Bridge pays homage to a man whose dedication to Irish Home Rule shaped the course of the nation's destiny in the 19th century.

Fitzgerald's, an atmospheric destination of note, adds an alluring touch to the area. This lovely pub beckons with a promise of a good pint of ale.

Another irrefutable emblem of Dublin's charm is the Ha'penny Bridge, an integral part of the city since 1816. As sunlight dances upon its cast-iron frame, it evokes an aura of romance and nostalgia, bearing witness to the tales of countless sojourners who traversed its arches, leaving their indelible mark upon the capital's collective memory.

The Liffey area of Dublin exudes an air of timeless elegance and cultural grandeur. In the river's embrace, this collection of attractions creates a seamless tale of triumph and tragedy, inviting all who wander its storied banks to embark on a journey of discovery and an enduring appreciation for Dublin's allure. To learn more about the Irish capital and explore some of the chapters of its rich and colorful past, take this self-guided walk.
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A Walk Along Liffey River Map

Guide Name: A Walk Along Liffey River
Guide Location: Ireland » Dublin (See other walking tours in Dublin)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 9
Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.1 Km or 1.3 Miles
Author: max
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Samuel Beckett Bridge
  • EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum
  • Famine Memorial
  • The Custom House
  • Butt Bridge
  • O'Connell Bridge
  • Fitzgerald's
  • Ha'penny Bridge
  • Grattan Bridge
Samuel Beckett Bridge

1) Samuel Beckett Bridge

Samuel Beckett Bridge (Irish: Droichead Samuel Beckett) is a cable-stayed bridge that joins Sir John Rogerson's Quay on the south side of the River Liffey to Guild Street and North Wall Quay in the Docklands area of Dublin. It is named for the Irish writer, Samuel Beckett.

Architect Santiago Calatrava was the lead designer of the bridge. This was the second bridge he created in the area; the first being the James Joyce Bridge, which is further upriver. The shape of the spar and its cables is said to evoke an image of a harp lying on its edge (the harp being the national symbol for Ireland from as early as the thirteenth century). The steel structure of the bridge was constructed in Rotterdam by Hollandia, a Dutch company also responsible for the steel fabrication of the London Eye.

The bridge, which cost €60 million, was officially opened to pedestrians on 10 December 2009 by Dublin Lord Mayor, Emer Costello, and to road traffic at 7 am the following day.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum

2) EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum

Described by The Irish Times as "the world’s first fully digital museum", EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum covers the history of the Irish diaspora and emigration to other countries. This privately owned museum was founded by Neville Isdell, former chairman and Chief Executive of The Coca-Cola Company, who was born in County Down. During 2015, an advisory group was assembled to consult on the development of EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum. In May 2016, EPIC was officially opened by former President of Ireland, Mary Robinson. It was nominated for the European Museum of the Year Award in 2018 and went on to win the World Travel Awards for Europe's Leading Tourist Attraction in 2019.

Designed and developed by a London-based specialist museum design consultancy, Event Communications, that had also created the award-winning Titanic Belfast attraction, the exhibition is made up of twenty individually-themed galleries, which fall under the headings of Migration (Galleries 1 to 2), Motivation (Galleries 4 to 7), Influence (Galleries 8 to 18) and Diaspora Today (Galleries 19 to 20).

The "Migration" galleries deal with migration patterns from Ireland since 500AD. The "Motivation" galleries cover religious missionary work, the Irish famine, religious and social persecution, criminal transportation, and the effects of Irish involvement in foreign conflicts. The "Influence" section covers notable Irish immigrants in the world of business, sports, science and inventors, political leaders and thinkers, music, dance and entertainment, art and fashion, writing and storytelling, and eating and drinking. Other cultural influences featured include an interactive 'rogues gallery' of troublemakers with Irish heritage, and worldwide festivals and celebrations of Irish culture.

The "Irish Family History Centre" is also located in the CHQ, and offers visitors the option to consult with genealogists and to access digitized records at workstations.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Famine Memorial

3) Famine Memorial

The Famine Memorial, officially titled simply as Famine, is a memorial erected in remembrance of the Great Famine, which is also known as the Great Hunger or the Great Starvation and sometimes referred to as the Irish Potato Famine, mostly outside Ireland. During the period of mass starvation and disease in Ireland from 1845 to 1849, the country's population halved through death (one million) and emigration.

The memorial was created by Rowan Gillespie, and unveiled in 1997. The sculpture features five life-size figures dressed in rags, clutching onto their belongings and children. In 2007, similar figures where unveiled in Toronto, Canada's Ireland Park. The two memorials are supposed to show the emigrants leaving famished Ireland for a new life.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
The Custom House

4) The Custom House

The Custom House (Irish: Teach an Chustaim) is a Neo-Classical 18th-century building in Dublin which houses the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government. Located on the north bank of the River Liffey, on Custom House Quay between Butt Bridge and Talbot Memorial Bridge, it was designed by James Gandon to act as the new custom house for Dublin Port and was his first large-scale commission.

Construction started in 1781, and for his assistants, Gandon chose Irish artists, such as Meath stone-cutter Henry Darley, mason John Semple and carpenter Hugh Henry. Every available mason in Dublin was engaged in the work. By the time it was completed and opened for business on the 7th November 1791, the construction cost had amounted to £200,000 – a considerable sum at the time. The four facades of the building are decorated with coats-of-arms and ornamental sculptures (by Edward Smyth) representing Ireland's rivers. Another artist, Henry Banks, was responsible for the statue on the dome and other statues.

Why You Should Visit:
One of the most beautiful buildings in the city, an architectural masterpiece of European Neo-Classicism.
On a nice day, there is a free to the public section, and if you go upstairs to the windows you can get a great view of Dublin.
Even if you can't manage to get inside, a stroll through the grounds is well worth the visit.

Best viewed from the south side of the river, which makes for the best photo opportunity.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 10am-4:30pm
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Butt Bridge

5) Butt Bridge

Spanning the Liffey River at a slightly skewed angle, the Butt Bridge, one of Dublin’s most famous, joins Georges Quay to Beresford Place and the North Quays at Liberty Hall. The view of the river, Docklands and Custom House that greets you as you walk across the bridge is nothing short of spectacular.

The original predecessor on this site was a structural steel swivel bridge, which opened in 1879 and was named for Isaac Butt (who died that year), leader of the Home Rule movement.

The swing section, made of wrought iron and weighing 200 tons, ran on a series of cast spoke wheels and was powered by a steam engine, which was housed on a timber pier on the downstream side of the bridge. The swing action allowed boats to pass and berth in the river as far upstream as Carlisle Bridge (now O'Connell Bridge).

In 1932, the swing bridge – deemed no longer wide enough for the increased traffic – was replaced with a three span fixed structure of reinforced concrete, which retained the original English name. The Irish name of the bridge, however, Droichead na Comhdhála or "Congress Bridge", derives from the Eucharistic Congress of 1932 which was held in Dublin that year.

The central span of the current bridge is formed by two cantilevered sections, with the two approach spans acting as counterweights. This model represented the first use in reinforced concrete of a cantilevered and counterweight construction in either Britain or Ireland.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
O'Connell Bridge

6) O'Connell Bridge

O'Connell Bridge is a road bridge over the River Liffey in Dublin that joins O'Connell Street to D'Olier Street, Westmoreland Street and the South Quays.

The original bridge (named Carlisle Bridge for the then Lord Lieutenant of Ireland – Frederick Howard, 5th Earl of Carlisle) was designed by James Gandon, and built between 1791 and 1794. Since 1860, (following similar work on Essex Bridge – now Grattan Bridge), to improve the streetscape and relieve traffic congestion on the bridge, it was intended to widen Carlisle Bridge to bring it to the same width of 70 metres (230 feet) as Sackville Street (now O'Connell Street) which formed the north side carriageway connection to the bridge. Between 1877 and 1880, the bridge was reconstructed and widened, now spanning 45 metres of the Liffey and being about 50 metres wide.

Upon reopening in 1882, the bridge was renamed for Daniel O'Connell complete with the statue unveiled in his honour.

In recent years, the lamps that graced the central island have been restored to their five lantern glory.

The bridge is the setting of Liam O'Flaherty's short story, The Sniper, and is also referenced in several other works, including James Joyce's novel, Ulysses.

Arthur Fields, locally known as The Man on The Bridge, took more than 182,000 photographs of pedestrians on the bridge from the 1930s to the 1980s.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.

7) Fitzgerald's

After a long walk around Dublin’s Temple Bar, you may hanker for a good pint of ale. If that's the case, there's just a wonderful place to rest and enjoy this very pint, called Fitzgerald’s. Other than ales, here you will find a wide selection of stouts and lagers accompanied with a great ‘pub grub’ menu including the ‘all day breakfast’.

Ideally positioned on Aston Quay, at the entrance to the thriving Temple Bar district, this classic traditional Irish pub greets visitors with a homey snug built around a Victorian style bar with comfortable seating throughout, creating a good old time feel. Regardless of where you sit, you can have a good view of what's happening inside and outside the pub all the same. Fitzgerald's also has big screen TVs for sporting events and often plays live music.

Opening hours:
Daily 11:00 – 1:00.
Late bar on Thursday, Friday and Saturday with Live Music from 9.30pm.
Food is served from 10am to 10pm Monday to Saturday, and 11am to 10pm on Sunday.
Ha'penny Bridge

8) Ha'penny Bridge

Commonly referred to as the Ha'penny Bridge, this white-picketed, cast-iron beauty is officially known as the Liffey Bridge. Upon its construction, though, the bridge was called Wellington (after the Dublin-born Duke of Wellington). Built in May 1816, it was the first pedestrian bridge spanning over the river Liffey in Dublin.

The bridge was cast in Shropshire, England and was meant to replace the seven ferries operating across the Liffey at the time, which were in a very bad condition. The Ha’penny nickname derives from a “halfpenny” charge levied upon the pedestrians for crossing it. Initially the toll was based not on the cost of construction, but to match the charges levied by the ferries it replaced. A further condition of construction was that, if the citizens of Dublin found the bridge and the toll to be "objectionable" within its first year of operation, it was to be removed at no cost to the city. Eventually, the toll was raised to a penny-ha'penny (1½ pence), until it was finally dropped in 1919.

Today, the Ha'penny Bridge is one of the prime landmarks of Dublin – appearing on postcards, tourism brochures, books and memorabilia.

For an even more unique & unusual experience, visitors may go on a kayak tour under the bridge with City Kayaking, which run all year round, and if lucky, even catch one of Dublin’s famous autumn sunsets. From time to time, there are also ‘Music Under the Bridge’ tours featuring some of the best musicians in Dublin performing under the bridges as people kayak down the River Liffey through the city.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Grattan Bridge

9) Grattan Bridge

To get from Parliament Street to Capel Street on the south bank of the River Liffey, you will have to cross the Grattan Bridge.

The first bridge to be built across the river here was called the Essex Bridge, named after the 1st Lord of Essex, Arthur Capell, who was Lord Lieutenant of Ireland between 1672 and 1677. This bridge was designed by Sir Humphrey Jervis with seven piers of arched stone taken from the ruins of the nearby St Mary’s Abbey. In 1722, an equestrian statue of King George 1st was erected on the north bank, in front of the bridge.

The bridge hadn’t been very well built and not high enough over the river to avoid flooding. This and the increased human, horse and cattle traffic caused the bridge to start crumbling in places. Deemed unsafe, in 1757 the bridge was rebuilt by George Semple. After the reconstruction, the statue of King George was removed and placed in the gardens of Mansion House, the official residence of the Lord Mayor of Dublin.

In 1872, the bridge was remodeled after Westminster Bridge in London and wrought-iron lamp standards, decorated with pairs of sea-horses, were installed for lighting. In 1874, the bridge was renamed after the Irish politician and member of the Irish House of Commons, Henry Grattan.

In 2003, the Dublin City Council reconstructed the bridge deck, adding granite footpaths with the idea of setting up a book market in the middle of it, but so many other street-vendors applied for permission to set up their kiosks that the idea had to be abandoned.

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