1835 – Sarsfield Bridge, Limerick

Architect: Alexander Nimmo

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When completed in 1835 after 11 years of construction, it was named Wellesley Bridge. The Limerick Bridge Commissioners were incorporated for the purpose of erecting the bridge and a floating dock under the Act of 1823 entitled ‘An Act for the erection of a bridge across the River Shannon and of a floating dock to accommodate sharp vessels frequenting the port of Limerick’.

Built to the designs of the great Scottish engineer Alexander Nimmo (1783-1832), it was completed by John Grantham in 1835 and based on the Pont de Neuilly in Paris, with a cost of £89,061.

It consists of five large and elegant elliptical arches with an open balustrade, running from a man-made island, originally called Wellesley Pier but now known as Shannon Island, to the northern shore. Each span reaches 70 feet, with each arch rising to a height of 8 feet 6 inches. The contractor was Clements and Son. The existing metal swivel bridge, manufactured by Cleveland Bridge & Engineering Co. of Darlington, replaces an earlier nineteenth-century twin-leafed swivel bridge manufactured by Forrester & Co. Liverpool and connects the island to the shore. The swivel end is no longer functional, a lock system has replaced the swivel section to allow for the passage of smaller boats. .

There are three commemorative panels to parapet piers, one reads: ‘This bridge was erected A.D. 1831 under and Act of the IV George IV: introduced into Parliament by the Right Honorable T. Spring Rice M.P. for the city of Limerick.’ A second plaque reads: ‘Sarsfield Bridge by authority of Parliament and through liberal grants from the Grand Juries of Limerick and Clare Alderman Jerome Counihan J.P. Mayor of Limerick 1882-1883. Was enabled to declare this bridge free of toll on Easter Monday 26 March 1883 William Boyd J.P. High Sheriff Alfred G. Wallace Sol. Town Clerk.’ A third plaque reads: ‘1975 European Architectural Heritage Year parapets reconstructed Alderman Patrick Kennedy Mayor James Tully T.D. Minister for Local Government.’

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