Halfpenny Bridge - History and Facts | History Hit

Halfpenny Bridge

Dublin, Ireland

Image Credit: anyaivanova / Shutterstock

About Halfpenny Bridge

Dublin’s Ha’penny (Halfpenny Bridge) is officially known as the Liffey Bridge. is a bridge across the River Liffey  and is extremely popular with tourists.

History of Ha’penny Bridge

Dublin is a city which straddles the River Liffey: originally, passenger ferries and boatmen carried citizens across the river, although these were often in poor condition. The main ferry operator, William Walsh, was told that his ferries would need serious maintenance to be fit for use: rather than do this, Walsh decided to propose the building of a bridge.

He kept the lucrative 100 year lease, installing turnstiles at either end to collect a halfpenny (ha’penny) from every person who crossed the bridge undertaken after an initial toll-free 10 days to celebrate the bridge’s opening. Walsh also collected a £3000 payout on the cessation of his ferry business. The bridge officially opened in May 1916, and remained Dublin’s only pedestrian bridge for well over 100 years.

Dublin Corporation kept its word, and Walsh (and his descendants) collected the money until 1919, when the turnstiles were finally removed. By this point, the name Ha’penny (halfpenny) Bridge had stuck.

Technically the bridge was named the Wellington Bridge, after the Dublin born Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington, but it was renamed by the Irish Free State in 1922 in an attempt to rid the city of monuments named after the English Protestant Ascendancy.

The bridge itself is cast iron, made by the English Coalbrookdale Company, who transported the bridge to Dublin in sections. Extensive work was carried out around the millennium, both to improve and secure structural stability and to smarten it up – years of peeling paint and missing rails needed replacing after an estimated 27,000 people a day used the bridge.

Ha’penny Bridge today

The bridge is the most famous in Dublin, and attracts hoards of visitors as well as locals – it is narrow so avoid peak times.

In 2012, Dublin City Council removed over 300kg of ‘love locks’ from the bridge: whilst there are still some there today, it’s best not to add to this form of urban graffiti/vandalism and leave the bridge as you found it. There are plenty of other romantic gestures you can make in the city!

Getting to Ha’penny Bridge

The bridge spans the Liffey between Temple Bar (south of the river) and Ormond Quay (north of the river). It remains a pedestrian only bridge and is relatively narrow so go out of hours if you want to soak up the atmosphere. It is easily walkable from other main attractions in Dublin: the nearest Luas stop is Westmoreland (south of the Liffey) or O’Connell/GPO (north of the Liffey). Several bus routes pass close by.