Turtle Bunbury

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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.


Connection: Pearse Street to Ringsend Road.

Commissioner: Dublin City Council.

Architect: Paul Arnold Architects.

Engineer: Mott McDonald Pettit.

Contractor: SIAC Construction.

Completed: September 2007.

The MacMahon bridge is the fifth bridge to be constructed over the Grand Canal Dock at at Boland's Mills. Early records indicate that a wooden bascule bridge, the Brunswick Bascule, was constructed at the site in 1791 and was replaced in 1857 by an iron swing bridge called the Victoria Bridge. A new Victoria Bridge opened on 18th March 1901 and was big enough for electric trams to cross, allowing for a direct link from Nelson's Pillar through to Sandymount via Ringsend. (1)

The fourth bridge opened in 1963 and was named MacMahon Bridge after General Seán MacMahon (1894 – 1955) who served at Bolands Mill in the Easter Rising and led B-Company of the 3rd Battalion of the Dublin Brigade of the IRA from 1916 to 1921. He was later Chief of Staff to the Free State Army from 1922 - 1924. His descendents were present when the Defence Forces provided a Guard of Honour at its opening. President Eamon deValera unveiled the original plaque on the bridge in 1963. This plaque has been refurbished and reinstalled on the bridge. (2)

This 1963 creation was a steel single leaf bascule bridge, not unlike the Scherzer Rolling Lift Bridges on the North Quays. Although nominally a lifting bridge, it had been welded shut for some time. One of the main reasons for a fixed bridge was complaints by certain residents about the noise of buses and trucks rattling over the original lifting bridge. In 2005, Dublin City Council adopted a proposal to replace MacMahon Bridge with a modern fixed span bridge with outer elliptical stainless steel glass clad arches. It consists of a cantilevered structure over the existing Quay Walls, ensuring the full 90-metre length of causeway provides adequate width for two traffic lanes and two bus lanes.


(1) With the introduction of route numbering from 1918, routes radiating from the city centre were numbered going clockwise, starting with the eastbound routes. Short workings between Nelson Pillar and Ringsend received number 1, with trams working to Sandymount Green being numbered 2, and trams working the entire line to Sandymount Tower receiving route number 3. The exact route was from Nelson Pillar to Sandymount Tower was via D'Olier Street, Great Brunswick (later Pearse) Street, Ringsend Road, Irishtown, Tritonville Road and Sandymount Road, also serving the DUTC power station at Ringsend. In May 1940, the tram ceased to run. The present day bus route to Sandymount Tower retains the number 3.

(2) The name 'Victoria Bridge' was discreetly transferred to the new railway bridge that runs across the south end of the Grand Canal Basin beyond the Waterways Visitor Centre. This carries CIE's southbound services and the DART rapid transit system which runs around Dublin Bay. From the basin it looks more like a tunnel.




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