Dubliners, like citizens of other countries, have a habit of simply ignoring the official names of structures and coming up with a more practical and apt name; if their humor doesn’t get in the way that is. The newest bridge in Dublin was recently christened “The Rosie Hackett Bridge” after the trade union leader and independence fighter. However it’s more likely the bridge will be called by the locals after it’s function – “The Luas Bridge”.
The bridge over the Liffey joining Capel Street to Parliament Street causes even more grief as regards names. It has had two over it’s history – Essex Bridge and Grattan Bridge – and of course is known to the locals by neither. Instead it’s Capel Street Bridge.
The first Essex Bridge was built in 1676 by Sir Humphrey Jervis and named after Arthur Capel, the 1st Earl of Essex. It joined the street named after the Earl to where, as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, the Earl worked in Dublin Castle.
James Malton’s “View from Capel Street,
looking over Essex Bridge. February 1797”By the middle of the 18th century the bridge was in poor shape and a new bridge, designed by George Semple and funded by a one guinea lottery was opened in 1753. Although this is the bridge capture by Malton it is not the bridge that exists today. Today’s bridge, like O’Connoll Street Bridge, was widened as well as flattened in 1872. It also gained some beautiful cast iron ornate lamps and a new name; Grattan Bridge – named after the Irish MP Henry Grattan.
An attempt in 2004 by Dublin Corporation to turn it into a bridge contain booking selling kiosks failed but the new granite paving and odd wooden benches with glass backs remain.