Droichead Uí Chonaill
|Location Map ( geo)|
|From:||Lower O'Connell Street, Dublin|
|To:||D'Olier Street / Westmoreland Street|
O'Connell Bridge is arguably the most well-known bridge in Ireland, and one of Dublin's busiest. It is a three-arch stone bridge carrying the R138 (formerly the N11) over the River Liffey at the south end of O'Connell Street in the centre of the city.
It is notable for being wider (at 50 m) than it is long (45 m), it was constructed in 1877-82 on the foundations of the earlier, narrower Carlisle Bridge (1794). It is so short that Luas trams cannot stop at one end of the bridge without blocking the junction at the other end.
Upon its official reopening, it was renamed in honour of the Irish political leader, Daniel O'Connell, a monument to whom – standing at the northern end of the bridge – was unveiled at the same time. In 1924 Sackville Street, the broad street running north from the bridge past the Dublin GPO, was also renamed, becoming O'Connell Street. In 2004 pranksters installed a hoax plaque on the bridge commemorating the fictitious priest, Father Pat Noise.
Before most national roads inside the M50 were downgraded around 2010, the bridge formed the hub of the road network in the Republic. The N1 ended at the north side of the bridge, N4 ended on the two western approaches and the N11 terminated after crossing the bridge. The N2, N3 and N7 all converged nearby, with the N5, N6, N8 and N9 all signed down those routes.
Today the bridge is still important to general traffic, but it is used mostly by buses and taxis. This is down to several changes including the traffic restrictions on Pearse Street and College Green, and the turning restriction applied to Bachelors Walk in 2017. The traffic lights at each end are well known for holding back traffic along The Quays, made worse by the opening of the new Luas tram line across the bridge. The junctions have always been a source of local frustration, and until the 1970s traffic was often controlled by Gardaí.
As part of that work, the bridge was returned to an earlier configuration, whereby traffic heading north and turning right queues in a lane which is totally segregated from the rest of the traffic. Pedestrians are now able to cross the bridge in all directions, including walking along its central reservation.