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The Love Bridge

Justine and Chellsey were in the process of putting up their friendship lock

Justine and Chellsey were in the process of putting up their friendship lock

The Ha’penny Bridge is one of the most distinctive sights in Dublin. It opened in May of 1816, it was originally called “The Duke of Wellington Bridge” and in 2001, it was reported that up to 27,000 people used the bridge on a daily basis.  It reminds every Dub who has travelled that they are now home. Recently, the bridge has been attracting world attention for another reason.

Lovers and friends alike have turned the Ha’penny Bridge into a memorial of their love and friendship. People have been flocking to the bridge with locks, which are engraved with messages, names or initials and are locking them on to the bridge, making a wish and throwing the key into the Liffey below.  The symbolism of course, suggesting that their love is copper fastened forever (although the reality maybe different when the DCC come down there with a snips!).


While I was out walking the other day I came across two ladies from Scotland who where over in Dublin for a few days. Justine and Chellsey were in the process of putting up their friendship lock when they informed me why they were doing it. It appears that the Ha’penny Bridge and the Millennium Bridge here in Dublin city have in recent years been attracting people from all over the world who are here either on a holiday or business to put a lock on to the bridge and leave it there for those most romantic of reasons.


While it may appear to be harmless to some, Dublin City Council does not seem to think so and since 2012, they have been on both bridges removing the locks. But if you stand on the Ha’penny Bridge and look at all the locks it’s hard to imagine how they will stop this new tradition from taking hold.  Similar, to when people kissed famous Irish writer, Oscar Wilde’s headstone in Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris with lipstick.  Try as the maintenance crews might, they were unsuccessful in stopping the fad.  


So how did this come about? It goes back as far as WW2, when a head mistress fell in love with a soldier in Serbia. Nadia and Relja, after declaring love for each other, Relja is sent away to war in Greece, while there he falls in love with another lady from Corfu, he then breaks up with Nadia who never got over the spilt and died of a broken heart.  The local girls from the town where Nadia and Relja lived, after hearing the story, went to the bridge where the couple used to meet, got a lock put their name and their sweet hearts name on a lock, fixed it to the bridge and threw away the key so no one could ever spilt them up.


In 1992 a writer, Fredico Moccia, used this idea for his novel “Three meters away from the sky”, and later in a movie adapted from the book called “Tre Metri- Sopra”  and it began to appear after that in different cities around the world.  The “Padlock Bridge”, which is in Paris, is literally covered with padlocks and locks with chains. 

So will this new phenomenon last? Will we be calling the Ha’penny, the Lovers Bridge in a few decades time?  Or perhaps more importantly will you be making the trip down there with your significant other’s hand in one hand and a padlock in the other?  

3 Responses

  1. Yeah lovely story…

    Except it happens to every bridge in Europe and generally wrecks them. Not culturally significant.

    Seems more a cry for help from couples not secure enough in their relationships and therefore in need to use pieces of brass to make up for their failures.

    Bah humbug etc.

  2. Wheres the love Thomas? Personally, I love locks, I think they’re mad handy…

  3. Tim Dowling says:

    Ah now come on what’s the harm …. it means something to people and when i walk by it i am happy to see the locks, it reminds me that there is the softer side to life and not just all serious doom n gloom. Besides iv made a bump key so i come along n steal the locks …. its like im stealing their dreams/futures right out from under them hahaha

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