Bridges and harbours


Another way to understand the difference between the past and the present is to look at bridges. The definition states a bridge to be 'a structure that spans a river, road, railway, valley, ravine or other obstacle providing a continuous route across it for pedestrians, motor vehicles or trains.' To really illustrate the changes that have occurred the oldest bridge and the newest bridge in the Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown area have been examined.

The oldest bridge in the area is located at the junction of Killiney Hill Road and Commons Road. This bridge is triple arched and is made of stone. It passes over the Shanganagh River.

By comparison there is the newly constructed bridge in Dundrum to carry the Luas, named in honour of William Dargan. This bridge is modern in design and fits in with the overall development currently going on in the Dundrum area.


The definition of a harbour is 'a place of shelter for ships, a refuge or a safe place'. Following the many disasters around Dún Laoghaire, people began calling for an asylum harbour. Following many petitions, the English parliament decided this was necessary for the area. Work began on the harbour in 1817 and was not completed until 1842.

When completed it provided Dún Laoghaire with one of the best artificial harbours ever built. It consisted of 250 acres bordered by two piers. A mail packet service was introduced in 1826 from Kingstown to Liverpool and later on another route to Holyhead was added. The service continued until the 1970s.

Carlisle Pier was built in 1859 and the mailboat docked here. There was also a railway line nearby so Kingstown really became a transport hub. In 1863 the development in the area continued with the building of a coastguard station, a lighthouse and a battery/fort. More development followed in 1969 with the addition of a Car Ferry Terminal and in 1995 a terminal was built at Carlisle Pier for the HSS Stena Explorer.

The harbour has always been in integral part of Kingstown/Dún Laoghaire and this trend continues today. Development of the harbour in 1817 was the beginning of the end for the old Dunleary village. It was located around where the West Pier begins today. That Dunleary was a small fishing village and had a very famous coffeehouse. In 1821 the name was changed to Kingstown in honour of the visit of King George IV.

During the 1820s and 1830s the town developed rapidly with the building of terraces, churches and schools. George's Street was originally designed to link up the Martello Towers and garrisons in Kingstown. Some of them no longer exist today another indication of how much change has been wrought. Fine Victorian buildings and shop fronts were designed during these years of prosperity, although sadly very few remain today.

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