The Millennium Bridge is a simple symphony of water, light, movement and form, perfect in its unobtrusiveness and all the better for getting to know. When opened on December 20th, 1999 it gifted, to citizens and visitors alike, new views of the Liffey and quaysides from the old heart of the city. A millennium Project for Dublin Corporation, the bridge was the subject of a design competition, in association with the Institute of Engineers of Ireland, which attracted 153 Irish and international entries. Howley Harrington Architects, with Price & Myers as Consultant Engineers, emerged victorious, their lightweight steel and concrete structure a thoroughly modern take on its timeless neighbour, the Ha’penny Bridge.
Approaching Millennium Bridge from the north or south quays, the curving abutment walls gently, yet efficiently, guide you over the threshold and onto the aluminium plank deck. All the while your view of the river is uninterrupted as the solid quay walls give way to the railing topped approaches and the open steelwork of the bridge. As you stride across the river (the bridge span is 41 metres), take note of the granite faced abutments, which swell out from the quay walls and are intriguingly revealed and concealed as the tide ebbs and flows. The gentle slope of the bridge - the gradient is 1 in 20 - the flattening in the mid section and the absence of any steps makes it user friendly for all ages and range of abilities, including wheelchair passengers.
Forging a new route between trendy Temple Bar and the busy Jervis and Henry Street area on the northside, the bridge is also intended to encourage foot traffic within the city and offers ready access to the Luas Red Line. Manufactured here using materials readily available in Ireland, the bridge cost IR£1.6 million. The Irish designers also added a quirky little note - look down for the commemorative plaque which is also a manhole cover!
In a thousand years of bridge history The Millenium Bridge is only the second pedestrian bridge to cross the river, which made it a very fitting addition to the family of Liffey Bridges at the dawn of the third millennium. Lean a while on the brass clad handrail and enjoy the river and surrounding cityscape, which by the way is a conservation area. To the east the iconic arc of the Ha’penny Bridge will bring a smile to your face; to the west the aged nobleness of Grattan Bridge is familiarly reassuring. Beneath your feet and under the Millennium Bridge, the Liffey flows, immortal, through the city.