Regularly featuring in postcards of Dublin, this sweet old footbridge once demanded a half penny toll of pedestrians who crossed it.
The best time to see this high-arched, cast iron bridge is during off-peak hours, a bustling crowd continually streams over the bridge every day. Many of them fail to notice its elegant white railings, its old-fashioned, decorative lamps, its distinct shape, or its splendid views over the River Liffey.
Indeed, the Ha'penny offers a wonderful way to walk from the Jervis Street / Mary Street shopping district on the north of the Liffey to the bohemian collection of pubs and restaurants in the Temple Bar district on the south.
Vic Stenafu is a wonderful, enthusiastic tour guide on this quick trip over and back the Ha'penny bridge.
Originally named the Liffey Bridge, and later the Wellington Bridge (after the Duke of Wellington), the Ha'penny Bridge was built in England by John Windsor, an ironworker from Shropshire, in 1816.
The crossing became necessary in the early 1800s, when the seven ferries operated by William Walsh to conduct passengers across the Liffey were deemed to be in such bad shape that he was told to repair them or build a bridge.
Walsh chose to build the bridge, which was completed in 1816, and was granted the right to exact a half penny toll for a period of 100 years from anyone who crossed it. The charge was not determined by the cost of construction of the bridge, but was chosen to match the fee of the ferries it replaced.
Turnstiles at either end collected the toll. The toll was increased to "a penny ha'penny", or 1.5 pence. The toll was finally dropped in 1919.
In 1999, a few hundred yards up the River Liffey, the Millenium Foot Bridge was constructed to ease the congestion of the Ha'penny.
Nevertheless, in 2001, it was calculated that 27,000 people still crossed the heavily trafficked Ha'penny bridge each day and renovation was needed.
Dublin's most famous bridge was thus closed for repair. When it reopened, it was returned to its original white colour and featured three lamps supported by carved ironwork to illuminate the walkway.
Ha'penny bridge at night. Image by Kman999.