The Bridges of Lucan

Lucan has a number of old and interesting bridges. There are only two “King John” bridges that survive in Ireland, one of these is at Lucan and the other spans the river Boyne, according to Peter O’Keeffe who has researched the stone bridges of Ireland. The Lucan bridge spans the river Griffeen and can be seen at GriffeenValley park, it runs parallel to the modern Esker Bridge at Lynch’s Lane.  Only one arch remains of the original three arch bridge.

King John's Bridge
King John’s Bridge


Esker was part of the demesne in the LiffeyValley which was ruled as a royal manor under King John.  As a “King John” bridge it would have been constructed between 1199 and 1216. O’Keeffe describes the bridge as “being of excellent quality for the period and probably built by a master mason attached to the manor who had plenty of experience in building door and window arches”. He notes that the ring stones were built of local limestone. Bridge building would have formed an important part of the consolidation of the Norman conquest giving access to the interior of the country. Prior to that time most of the river crossings were at fords.

Postcard of the Liffey Bridge Lucan c.1930
Postcard of the Liffey Bridge Lucan c.1930

A number of Lucan bridges were washed away by floods and only the piers remain these can be seen on the maps of the 18th and 19th century. In Ball’s history of County Dublin there is an illustration of very fragile looking wooden bridge at Hermitage.

Vesey Bridge Lucan Village
Vesey Bridge Lucan Village

The Vesey Bridge at Lucan was constructed c. 1773 and it is substantially in its original condition. The Veseys were a very influential family who gained the lands of Lucan through marriage to Patrick’s Sarsfield’s niece in the 1720’s. In an act dated 1771 – 1772 Vesey was given permission to construct a new line of road which involved building a new bridge over the Griffeen. Swift wrote “Agmondisham Vesey out of great bounty / built the bridge at the expense of the county.”

Lucan Bridge
Lucan Bridge

The Lucan Bridge that spans the Liffey is a very handsome bridge of ashlar masonry with iron balustrades. These balustrades were constructed by Phoenix Ironworks in 1814 which is the only clue to the date of the bridge. Lucan Bridge has a span of 110ft and is the longest masonry arch bridge in the country.


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