What's in a name?
Lucan Bridge serves the village of Lucan, the name most likely inspired by local fauna, though we know neither from whence in history this inspiration came or from whom. Time and usage may simply have corrupted the Irish, ‘leamhán’ meaning ‘elm’ to ‘Lucan’ and perhaps confusingly incorporated the suffix ‘can’ meaning ‘place’ in Irish.
It is known that the title ‘Earl of Lucan’ was bestowed on Patrick Sarsfield in 1690. The Sarsfield family were established landowners in the area from the late 1500s. Patrick was born around the year 1650 to Patrick Sarsfield of Lucan and his wife, Anne, daughter of the rebel nobleman Rory O’More, for whom another Liffey bridge is named. As a commander in the army of King James II he led them to France following their defeat by the forces of William of Orange and the signing of the Treaty of Limerick. Wounded in battle, he died in Flanders in 1693, his last words rumoured to be, ‘if this were only for Ireland’.
The hero dead, the title survived one more generation and then became extinct until a kinsman, George Bingham, had it recreated and he became 3rd Earl of Lucan in 1795. A military man he fought for the glory of Britain in the Crimea, where far from the sleepy village on the banks of the Liffey, the Russians waited as ill fated Irish bugler Billy Brittain sounded the orders and the cavalry advanced across the open terrain under the direction of the 3rd Earl:
“Canon to right of them,
Canon to left of them,
Canon in front of them,
Volley’s and thunder’d;”
Thus Tennyson immortalised the sensational defeat for which Lucan bore most of the blame. Murderous infamy further burdened the name with the disappearance of the 7th Earl following the death of the family nanny in his London home in 1974. He was later judged to have murdered her, but has never been found to face trial.
Lucan, the place, belies the violent and bloody histories of its namesakes. Though no more a quaint, spa village but a busy suburb of Dublin, the view from the bridge is still of a most tranquil and peaceful pastoral scene.