Samuel Beckett bridge opens

Thu, Dec 10, 2009, 00:00

The opening ceremony of Dublin's newest bridge, named after Nobel laureate Samuel Beckett, took place today.

The iconic structure stretches 120 metres across the capital’s River Liffey from Guild Street on the northside to Sir John Rogerson’s Quay on the southside.

Designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, the bridge takes the shape of the Irish harp with cable-stay ‘strings’.

Actor Barry McGovern performed Beckett excerpts at the ribbon-cutting ceremony as the Waiting for Godot author’s niece Caroline Murphy, nephew Edward Beckett and hundreds of Dubliners looked on.

Ms Murphy said her uncle would have been amazed by the 40 million euro creation.

“He was a very, very unassuming man and I think he would have been quite overcome.

“I can see the tears in his eyes now — he probably wouldn’t have turned up to the opening but I think he would be very, very overcome by emotion,” she said.

“It’s wonderful that Seamus Heaney came and I’m quite amazed that there are so many people here.

“I thought there would have been only a sprinkling of people in the know but I think Dublin has taken this bridge to its heart.”

The Samuel Beckett Bridge’s steel superstructure was built at a Rotterdam shipyard before making a week-long sea voyage to Ireland in May.

It can rotate to an angle of 90 degrees between an open and closed position to allow boats to travel along the river and will also be able to accommodate Luas trams.

Lord Mayor of Dublin Emer Costello said the 48 metre-high bridge was a central part of the capital’s transport infrastructure.

“The Beckett Bridge will improve traffic circulation, public transport and the pedestrian environment in the city centre,” she added.

The structure is the second Calatrava bridge in the capital after the James Joyce bridge.

The architect said he was deeply honoured to have given Dublin two signature designs.

“It is rare that an artist is able to contribute to the blueprint of such a historically rich city,” he said.

“Working on the James Joyce Bridge I developed a deep affinity for the people of Dublin, and I wanted my next bridge to celebrate that connection.”