The Liffey enters County Dublin at the Leixlip Bridge and flows with little meandering through Lucan and Chapelizod into Dublin.
Map © 1998 Jameson Liffey Descent
In Lucan, the river is joined by the little Griffeen River which flows in from the south under a small but quite complex stone bridge which was " built by Agm Vesey for ye public in ye yer 1773 "
The Griffeen flows under Agmondisham Veseys 1773 bridge " for ye public ".
Agm is an abreviation of the name Agmondisham. See our History of Lucan for greater detail on the Vesey family.
In 1749 Agmondisham Vesey granted permission for his coat of arms to be displayed on a new Coaching Inn established on his lands in the village centre.
The new Inn, situated seven miles west of Dublin, became an essential stopping point for all coach travel to Galway, Sligo and the West, and was designated a Royal Mail collection point. For almost a quarter of a century in those halcyon days of coach travel, this house provided shelter, warmth and comfort to weary pilgrims of travel, nourishing them with wholesome food, fine ales and potent wine.
This tradition continues today in one of Ireland's most historic Coaching Inns - Kenny's Vesey Arms Inn, under the ownership and management of the Kenny brothers, Gerard and John.
Today, Sarsfields Castle, battered but unbowed, casts a vigilant but approving eye over it's neighbour - Kenny's Vesey Arms Inn.
Anyway, back to the Liffey....................
The Liffey then flows under
what is arguably the finest stone bridge in it's entire course, carrying the road leading
towards Clonsilla and the north. This bridge, with it's great single span of about thirty
six metres and elaborate cast iron balusters, gives no indication of it's name or age,
other than that the metal balusters were made by the Phoenix Iron Works of Dublin in 1814.
The first bridge was built about 1220, in the reign of King John, and was described as " a good stone bridge " in 1663. The second bridge was built by the first Agmondisham Vesey c. 1730, but was washed away within a very short time. The third bridge over the Liffey was again built by the Rt. Hon. Agmondishan Vesey c. 1771, and washed away in a flood in 1786.
There is a wonderful painting in the National Gallery of Ireland, of Lucan Castle by Thomas Roberts c. 1771, and in the foreground , one can see work commencing on this bridge just at the top of the weir. The artist painted from where Weir View is today, and it would appear that workmen are cutting stone on Weir View side, and transporting it across the river to the building site.
A fourth bridge was built
between where the third bridge was , and the present bridge is after 1786, but suffered
the same fate as the others. In 1814, the present single span bridge was completed by
Savage & Knowles.
The metal balustrades were supplied by Phoenix Iron Works.
The bridge has been a little injured in it's appearance by raising of the roadway near both ends of the arch to improve the gradient, but it's overall appearance, especially in the context of the high weir and falls just upstream, is splendid.
View from weir towards Lucan Bridge.
The comparative seclusion of the Liffey in this stretch may be guaged from the fact that in the eight kilometres of road past the Strawberry Beds to Chapelizod there is no public bridge across the river, and only one private crossing, a metal bridge quite fine in concept but now disused and deteriorating.
About the Strawberry Beds themselves, named for the simple reason that this fruit was grown extensively here, the area was formerly very popular for Sunday excursions from the city. The fare by horse drawn car from Carlsile Bridge ( now O'Connell Bridge ) was 3 pennies and it was not an infrequent sight to see a long procession of these vehicles, amid blinding clouds of dust, extending the whole way from Parkgate Street to Knockmaroon.
As the Liffey flows into Chapelizod, a weir forms a large mill-race that makes an island on which industry has flourished for at least 150 years. The main stream is crossed by a four-span stone arched bridge, unusual in having two large central spans and two much smaller end spans. This bridge, formerly Chapelizod Bridge, now has incised upon it's parapet " Renamed 1982 to mark the centenery of James Joyce's birth. Dublin Corporation " and also " Anna Livia. James Joyce 1882-1941. " No reference is made to Finnegans Wake, although this work probably suggested Chapelizod as a place to remember it's author.
First published 22nd.February '98.
Last update 05/06/ 2000.