Turtle Bunbury

Writer and Historian

 
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THE DOCKLANDS - SEAN O'CASEY FOOTBRIDGE (2005 - Present)

Dublin Docklands - An Urban Voyage is a work in progress, commissioned by the Dublin Docklands Development Authority, and due to be completed in the autumn of 2008. The following tale represents research I have undertaken for the project which may or may not be used in the final book.

SeAn O‘Casey Bridge (Irish: Droichead Sheán Uí Chathasaigh)

Connection: Sir John Rogerson's Quay to North Wall Quay (footbridge).

Commissioner: Dublin Docklands Development Authority.

Structural Designer: O’Connor Sutton Cronin Consulting Engineers.

Project cost consultants: Bruce Shaw and Partners.

Contractor: John Mowlem Construction.

Completion: July 2005.

"…an exciting moveable structure that uses a range of materials and forms: well thought through and neatly detailed, providing interest and enjoyment for engineers and users alike…" (Institution of Structural Engineers)

In 2006, the Seán O’Casey Bridge won Best Pedestrian Bridge at the prestigious International IStructE Awards run by the UK’s Institute of Structural Engineers. It was also one of the most useful additions to the Docklands, enabling people to move between the north side and Merrion Square in a matter of minutes.

The bridge was built in 2005 as part of the Dublin Docklands Development Authority’s regeneration programme. The design was selected from more than 80 entries in an international competition organised by the DDDA in 2002. The winning design came from Cyril O'Neill of Brian O'Halloran & Associates. He left the firm to join HKR in early 2005.

The elegant swing bridge is designed to suggest a formal maritime gateway to the City. It spans approximately 100 metres of the Liffey, joining Sir John Rogerson's Quay in the Grand Canal Docks area to Stack A on the North Wall Quay. Weighing over 320 tonnes and set on two Chinese granite piers, the pioneering bridge has two balanced 44 metre long cantilever arms that can swing open to allow boats pass up and down the river as far as the Talbot Memorial Bridge. The piers are founded on four piles bored over 12 metres into the bedrock. Aluminium decking is supported on a continuous frame of steel circular sections, which in turn are supported by a central cradle of tapered steel sections and tension rods.

Perhaps fittingly given its proximity to the International Finances Services Sector, the bridge represents a truly European collaboration and was built in Poland. John Mowlem, the main contractor subcontracted the production of the opening section to Barnsley-based Qualter Hall & Company who worked with a twelve-strong team of Polish ship builders. The balustrade was produced by canal engineers in Nottingham, the balustrade panels from French company Euroslot and the deck from Promecon in Denmark.

The bridge was opened by Taoiseach Bertie Ahern in July 2005 who declared it a 'vital link between the southside of the city and the vibrant docklands area.' It was the third new bridge over the Liffey in five years, following the opening of the Millennium Bridge, near the Ha'penny Bridge, and the James Joyce Bridge at Blackhall Place in 2003.

There is a strong Dublin tradition of naming the city's bridges after famous Irish citizens. This bridge was named for the playwright Seán O'Casey (1880–1964) who lived in the East Wall area from 1897 to 1920. The opening ceremony was attended by O'Casey's daughter Shivaun; the Minister for the Environment, Dick Roche; the Lord Mayor of Dublin Catherine Byrne; and members of Docklands Authority Board and Council.

"…a structural solution that combines lightness in design to resolve structural forces with efficiency and transparency…" (Institution of Structural Engineers).

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