The promise of music, dancing, romance and the occasional game of bowls had Dubliners flocking to the Marlborough Bowling Green and Pleasure Gardens from the early 18th century. And from such entirely frivolous pastimes grew a clamour for a little wooden bridge over the River Liffey, here, at the site of the Rosie Hackett Bridge. For the noble and monied classes, with little else to do but play, did not like the inconvenience of having to use the Essex Bridge located upstream, near the old city. However, their fundraising attempts seem to have come to nothing and the well heeled, satin coated revellers made do with the old ferry boat - a service first recorded here in 1675.
In the 21st century the need for a new bridge is decided in a very rational, scientific manner and is inclusive of all sectors of society. National and local policies set the context and the framework: The National Development Plan, Transport 21 and The Strategic Planning Guidelines all informed the decision to build the Rosie Hackett Bridge, particularly the City Council’s ‘Dublin City Development Plan’ which contained a specific objective to provide a pedestrian bridge from Marlborough Street to Hawkins Street.
A ‘To Do’ list was compiled: land ownership searches, a topographical survey; consultations with utility companies, the National Parks and Wildlife Section, the Eastern Regional Fisheries Board and National Museum of Ireland; licences to obtain; archaeological testing and archaeological excavation to be undertaken; underwater assessments and metal detection surveys to be organised and an Environmental Impact Statement to be commissioned.
Protecting the area from any future flooding was a major concern. A hydraulic model of the River Liffey was developed and the impact of the new bridge under various combinations of low and high tide were tested. Requirements for contractors were set out: the use of chemicals approved for the aquatic environment, noise control measures, vibration limits and dust minimisation were included. Photomontages of the proposed structure were analysed for landscape and visual impact.
Method statements were prepared for the removal of the Sheehan monument and the temporary interference with parts of the historic quay walls. No detail was too small for consideration, necessary adjustments took place, ideas were revisited, final decisions were made and planning permission was sought. Such was the thoroughness of preparations that not a single objection was received in the course of the planning process. The appearance of a barge crane in the River Liffey in February 2012 marked the beginning of the construction phase and the Rosie Hackett Bridge was opened to public, pedestrian and cycle traffic on the 20th of May 2014.