Design and Engineering

Bindon B. Stoney’s approved design for a replacement to the then named Carlisle Bridge was a granite arch bridge spanning 45m, comprises three elliptical arches, rusticated and decorated piers and a simple parapet, not unlike those of Father Mathew, O’Donovan Rossa and Mellows Bridge respectively. Stoney’s design went to tender in May 1877 (an integral part of the tender was the construction of the swivel Butt Bridge). From the four tenders received W.J. Doherty was judged the best with a price of £70,342. It should be noted that Doherty was also the contractor for the rebuild of Grattan Bridge in 1873-1875.

Stoney’s design was for side additions to be initially built. At the piers these were to be based on riveted iron cylindrical caissons, which were to be slowly sunk excavating out river silt and founded on solid rock. They then could be filled with concrete and connected to the piers of the old bridge. The new abutment extensions were founded on piles and concrete, which were built inside cofferdams. The elliptical arches of the side additions could then be built, springing between concrete filled caisson and abutment. When the side additions were built they were opened for traffic (1879). The superstructure of the old bridge was then removed and rebuilt to match the extensions.

Image of O’Connell Bridge - Design and Engineering

East keystone depicting the Atlantic

The masonry of the arches, archrings, spandrels and lower piers is well-cut granite ashlar evenly coursed, while the parapet, keystones and the greater part of the piers, are constructed of sandstone. There are two keystones, one on each central arch. The western keystone is emblematical of Anna Livia; the eastern of the Atlantic Ocean, both following closely, in form and detail, the corresponding carvings at the Custom House. The parapet is composed of eight sections of balusters alternating with eight dadoes of which four are small dadoes and four are large. The old balustrades were removed to Clonturk House, Drumcondra during the rebuild. There are two small dadoes at the rise of the bridge which bear brass commemorative plaques.

An island, approximately 5m broad, running across the bridge; is adorned with three decorative lamp standards. The shades are decorated with the Corporation motif, and crowned with openwork palmettes, and anthemions. The shaft is decorated with volutes, rosettes, acanthus, and lion-heads while the base is embellished with bull-rushes and wild flowers, pateras and egg-and-dart motif.

Image of O’Connell Bridge - Design and Engineering

Shortly after construction ended (1880)

Work commenced in May 1877 and the bridge was fully opened in August 1880, the reason for the time over run of 6 months being stated as a difficulty in sinking the caissons through solid rock, a shortage in the supply of stone, the severe winter weather and the gas mains not being ready when required. The gas and water mains were too large to be accommodated in the fill material which necessitated the formation of openings at the crowns of each arch vault. The final cost was £70,342.

All the lamps on the bridge were refurbished and rebuilt in 2002.