Categories of Special Interest
Architectural, Artistic, Technical
In Use As
1820 - 1835
Five-span limestone road bridge, built between 1824-35, spanning the River Shannon joining Sarsfield Street and Ennis Road on a southeast/northwest axis, splaying to both sides to form abutments at the junction with the Ennis Road. Span adjoining Sarsfield Street forming a steel swivel bridge, put in place in 1923, replacing an earlier swivel bridge. Parapet reconstructed c. 1975, comprising balustraded east parapet with limestone ashlar piers over bowed cutwaters, and largely solid limestone ashlars west parapet with intermediary balustraded sections. Squared and coursed tooled limestone ashlar bridge with carved profiled saddle-backed coping. Recessed panel corresponding to each limestone cutwater. Cast-iron lamp standards surmount parapet to each side. 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.' Tooled limestone ashlar voussoirs to elliptical arches, each springing from a pier with rounded cutwaters with distinctive clam-shaped limestone capping.
The Limerick Bridge Commissioners were incorporated for the purpose of erecting Sarsfield Bridge (Wellesley 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) between 1823-35, it was completed by John Grantham in 1835. The foundation stone was laid on the 25th October 1824 and the bridge was opened 5th August 1835, with a cost of £89,061. The design of the bridge is based on Pont Neuilly in Paris. 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. This fine bridge contributes to an outstanding view which includes the Shannon Rowing Club, and in the distance the Court House, Saint Mary's Cathedral and King John's Castle. The ensemble which comprises the rowing clubs, harbour, slipways and locks gives added importance to the bridge. The bridge was of huge infrastructural significance as it brought the Clare suburbs into the City, drawing the two sides together. Its name was changed to Sarsfield Bridge in 1882. The architect Charles Blacker Vignoles provided plans for the competition in 1832.