Fears grow that historic Liffey bridge may collapse

by Sylvia Pownall
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CAMPAIGNERS hoping to save a 19th century bridge handed a petition to Fingal County Council and South Dublin County Council last Friday.
The cast-iron structure which spans the Liffey was built by the Guinness family and links Waterstown Park to Farmleigh estate.
It has lain in a state of disrepair for some time and almost 2,500 people signed the petition calling for what’s locally known as the Silver Bridge to be restored.
The bridge was closed in the 1970s and, according to campaigners, requires maintenance “to bring it back to its original grandeur”.
The structure is rusting and is at risk of collapsing into the Liffey unless the rivets in the lattice are replaced.
A spokesperson for the Rebuild Silver Bridge group said: “It could serve as an access point for pedestrians to the Phoenix Park for Lucan and Palmerstown residents.
“It could also be used as an alternative route as part of the Liffey greenway plan.”
If restored for pedestrian use the bridge would connect Phoenix and Waterstown parks and could be included in walking, fishing or cycling routes.
SDCC Mayor Guss O’Connell, who lives in Palmerstown, said: “This is a very historic bridge and a significant part of the heritage of the Liffey Valley which must be restored before it rusts away forever.”
Fingal Deputy Mayor Eithne Loftus accepted the petition on behalf of the council and said: “This is a wonderful occasion, and one I have waited for a long time.”
Palmerstown historian Hugh O’Connor spoke of playing across the bridge as a child and seeing workers lead horse and cart loads over it well into the 1950s.
An engineering report carried out a decade ago estimated the cost of surveying and repairing the structure at €300,000.
The 52-metre box truss bridge was built between 1872 and 1880 by Edward Cecil Guinness.
It links the south side fields of Waterstown Park in Palmerstown to a tunnel connecting to the Farmleigh estate in the Phoenix Park.
Guinness built the bridge, also known as Silver Bridge, to supply electricity for Farmleigh House.
It also brought water to the Farmleigh clock tower and provided access to the Farmleigh estate for many of its workers who lived on the south side of the Liffey in Palmerstown.

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