The Info List - River Liffey

The River Liffey
River Liffey
(Irish: An Life) is a river in Ireland, which flows through the centre of Dublin. Its major tributaries include the River Dodder, the River Poddle
River Poddle
and the River Camac. The river supplies much of Dublin's water and a range of recreational activities.[1]


1 Name 2 Course and system

2.1 Tributaries 2.2 Dams, reservoirs and falls 2.3 Settlements

3 Navigation and uses

3.1 Water supply 3.2 Electricity generation 3.3 Traffic 3.4 Recreational use

4 Crossings

4.1 History 4.2 Present day

5 Quays 6 Incidents 7 Annalistic references 8 Popular culture references 9 See also 10 References

Name[edit] Ptolemy's Geography (2nd century AD) described a river, perhaps the Liffey, which he labelled Οβοκα (Oboka). Ultimately this led to the name of the River Avoca.[2] The Liffey was previously named An Ruirthech, meaning "fast (or strong) runner".[3] The word Liphe (or Life) referred originally to the name of the plain through which the river ran, but eventually came to refer to the river itself.[4] It was also known as the Anna Liffey,[5] possibly from an anglicisation of Abhainn na Life, the Irish phrase that translates into English as "River Liffey".[6] James Joyce embodies the river as "Anna Livia Plurabelle" in Finnegans Wake. Course and system[edit]

The River Liffey
River Liffey
flowing through Newbridge College
Newbridge College
in Co. Kildare

The Liffey rises in the Liffey Head Bog between Kippure
and Tonduff in the Wicklow Mountains, forming from many streamlets at Sally Gap. It flows for 132 km (82 mi)[7] through counties Wicklow, Kildare
and Dublin
before entering the Irish Sea
Irish Sea
at its mouth at the midpoint of Dublin
Bay, on a line extending from the Baily lighthouse to the Muglin Rocks. It crosses from County Wicklow
County Wicklow
into County Kildare
at Poulaphouca
and from County Kildare
County Kildare
into County Dublin
at Leixlip, with most of its length being in Kildare. The catchment area of the Liffey is 1,256 km2 (485 sq mi).[8] The long term average flow rate of the river is 18.0 m3/s (640 cu ft/s).[8] Tributaries[edit] The Liffey system includes dozens of smaller rivers and streams. Early tributaries include the Athdown Brook, Shankill River, Ballylow Brook, Brittas River and Woodend Brook, as well as the substantial King's River. Downstream of Poulaphouca
are the Lemonstown Stream, Kilcullen
Stream and Pinkeen Stream, followed by the Painestown River (with tributaries including the Morell River), Rye Water (with tributaries including the Lyreen), and the Griffeen River. Within Dublin
are the various Phoenix Park
Phoenix Park
streams on the left bank, interspersed with right bank tributaries such as the Glenaulin Stream and Creosote Stream.[9] Within the quays area tributaries include the River Camac, possibly Colman's Brook, the Bradoge River, River Poddle, Stein River and the River Dodder, some of which have numerous tributaries of their own. In earlier times, the River Tolka
River Tolka
was also arguably a tributary of the Liffey, or at least shared its mouth, but it now enters Dublin
Bay distinctly, some distance to the north. Dams, reservoirs and falls[edit] There are dams for three ESB hydroelectric power stations along the river, at Poulaphouca, Golden Falls and Leixlip. Major reservoir facilities also exist at Poulaphouca. The Liffey does not feature natural lakes, and has few islands. Significant falls at Poulaphouca
and at Golden Falls were flooded by reservoir construction. There remain areas of rapids, including as the river approaches Dublin
city. Settlements[edit] Towns along the river include Ballymore Eustace, Athgarvan, Kilcullen, Newbridge, Caragh, Clane, Celbridge, Leixlip
and Lucan before the river reaches the city of Dublin
as it approaches its mouth.

The Ha'penny Bridge.

Navigation and uses[edit] Further information: History of Dublin
and Dublin
Port The River Liffey
River Liffey
in Dublin
city has been used for many centuries for trade, from the Viking
beginnings of the city up to recent times. It is connected to the River Shannon
River Shannon
via the Grand Canal and the Royal Canal. Water supply[edit] Around 60% of the Liffey's flow is abstracted for drinking water and to supply industry. Much of this makes its way back into the river after purification in wastewater treatment plants. Despite a misconception that the Guinness
brewery is one such commercial user,[10] the facility uses water piped from the Wicklow Mountains.[11] Electricity generation[edit] ESB hydroelectric power stations exist along the river, at Poulaphouca, Golden Falls and Leixlip, in addition to a number of minor private installations. Traffic[edit]

"Sarah's Bridge on the River Anna Liffey" (1831) Sarah's Bridge is today called Island Bridge. The then-new Wellington Monument is seen on the left

A well-known sight on the Liffey up to the 1990s, the Lady Patricia[12] and Miranda Guinness[12] cargo ships were used to export Guinness
from the St. James's Gate Brewery. As of the early 21st century, the only regular traffic on the river within the city is the Liffey Voyage water tour bus service, which runs guided tours along the River Liffey
River Liffey
through Dublin
City centre. Departing from the boardwalk downstream of the Ha'penny Bridge, the Spirit of the Docklands was built by Westers Mekaniska in Sweden
as a 50-passenger water taxi. Its variable ballast tanks (not unlike a submarine) and low air draught mean that at low tide it can float high, but at high tide it can ride low and still pass below the Liffey's bridges. Downstream of the East-Link bridge, the river is still mainly used for commercial and ferry traffic, with some recreational use also. High speed trips out the mouth of the Liffey were also previously available from Sea Safari.[13] Recreational use[edit]

The 2007 Liffey Swim passes the Dublin

Upstream from the city, at Chapelizod, the river is used by private, university and Garda rowing clubs. The Liffey Descent canoeing event, held each year since 1960, covers a 27 km (17 mi) course from Straffan
to Islandbridge. The Normal Tidal Limit (NTL) of the river is Islandbridge
(weir). The Liffey Swim takes place every year in late August or early September between Watling Bridge and The Custom House.The Islandbridge
stretch of river accommodates a number of rowing clubs including Trinity College, UCD, Commercial, Neptune, and the Garda rowing club The Liffey is widely used for recreational activities – such as canoeing, rafting,[14] fishing, swimming, significant facilities are at Poulaphouca, Kilcullen, Newbridge, where a seven-acre Liffey Linear Park has been developed, and other facilities are located further downriver at Leixlip
and other towns. Crossings[edit] History[edit] The earliest stone bridge over the Liffey of which there is solid evidence was the Bridge of Dublin
(on the site of the current Fr. Mathew Bridge), built by the Dominicans in 1428, which survived well into the 18th century.[15] This four-arch bridge included various buildings such as a chapel, bakehouse and possibly an inn[16] and replaced an earlier wooden bridge (Dubhghalls Bridge) on the same site. Island Bridge
Island Bridge
(a predecessor of the current bridge) was added in 1577. With the development of commercial Dublin
in the 17th century, four new bridges were added between 1670 and 1684: Barrack, or Bloody Bridge, (the forerunner of the current Rory O'More Bridge), Essex Bridge (Grattan Bridge), Ormond Bridge (O'Donovan Rossa Bridge) and Arran Bridge. The oldest bridge still standing is Mellows Bridge, (originally Queens Bridge) constructed in 1764 on the site of Arran Bridge, which was destroyed by floods in 1763. The first iron bridge was the Ha'penny Bridge
Ha'penny Bridge
built in 1816. Farmleigh
Bridge, also iron, was built around 1872 at the end of a tunnel and connected Farmleigh estate to Palmerstown.[17] 21st century additions include Seán O'Casey Bridge
Seán O'Casey Bridge
(2005), Samuel Beckett Bridge (2009),[18][19] and Rosie Hackett Bridge
Rosie Hackett Bridge
(2014).[20] Present day[edit]

Ship Jeanie Johnston
Jeanie Johnston
at River Liffey.

See also: List of Dublin
bridges and tunnels Dividing the Northside of Dublin
from the Southside, the Liffey is today spanned by numerous bridges, mostly open to vehicular traffic. These include the West-Link
Bridge on the M50 motorway, Seán Heuston Bridge and O'Connell Bridge. There are 3 pedestrian bridges in the city: the Millennium Bridge, Seán O'Casey Bridge
Seán O'Casey Bridge
and the Ha'penny Bridge. 21st century additions include the Samuel Beckett Bridge (2009) and James Joyce
James Joyce
Bridge (2003), both designed by Santiago Calatrava. Crossings further upriver include the Liffey Bridge at Celbridge, "The Bridge at 16" (a 19th-century pedestrian suspension bridge at what is now the K Club), and the Leinster Aqueduct – which carries the Grand Canal over the Liffey at Caragh.[1] Art works along the river and its quays include the Famine Memorial Statues (near the IFSC) and the World Hunger Stone.[21] Quays[edit] See also: Dublin
quays The song about Seamus Rafferty refers to the "bowsies on the quay"; However, from the late 20th-century there was some renewed development on the quays, with the addition of linear parks and overhanging boardwalks. There are quays on the north and south banks of the Liffey, extending from the weir at Islandbridge
to Ringsend bridge over the river Dodder, just before the East-Link toll bridge. From west to east, the quays on the north bank are:

Bridgewater, Wolfe Tone, Sarsfield, Ellis, Arran, Inns, Ormond Upper, Ormond Lower, Bachelors Walk, Eden, Custom House, and North Wall.

From west to east, the quays on the south bank are:

Victoria, Usher's Island, Usher's, Merchants, Wood, Essex, Wellington, Crampton, Aston, Burgh, George's, City, Sir John Rogerson's, and Great Britain.

A panoramic view of Bachelors Walk taken from the opposite side, Aston Quay

Incidents[edit] In December 2000, a Bus Éireann
Bus Éireann
bus, crossing the Liffey at Butt Bridge, collided with another bus and skidded into the Liffey. There were some injuries, but no-one was killed.[22] In July 2011, a long-term homeless man rescued his pet rabbit after it had been thrown into the river. Diving off O'Connell Bridge
O'Connell Bridge
in front of hundreds of people, videos of the rescue circulated on the internet, and the man received an honour (and job offer at an animal shelter) for his actions.[23][24][25][26] The man who threw the rabbit into the river was arrested.[27] Annalistic references[edit] In the Annals of Inisfallen
Annals of Inisfallen
for the year 808, an entry reads:

AI808.2 A defeat [inflicted] by the Laigin on Áed, son of Niall, at the river of Liphe.

Popular culture references[edit]

Liffey quays at dusk

From Joyce to Radiohead, the Liffey is often referenced in literature and song:

"riverrun, past Eve and Adam's, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and Environs."

James Joyce, Finnegans Wake
Finnegans Wake
(first sentence of novel).

That is the first of a number of references to the Liffey in the Wake: insofar as the book has characters, the female protagonist of the novel, Anna Livia Plurabelle, is herself an allegory of the river.

A skiff, a crumpled throwaway, Elijah is coming, rode lightly down the Liffey, under Loopline Bridge, shooting the rapids where water chafed around the bridgepiers, sailing eastward past hulls and anchorchains, between the Custom House old dock and George's quay.

James Joyce, Ulysses

She asked that it be named for her. – The river took its name from the land. – the land took its name from the woman.

Eavan Boland, Anna Liffey

That there, that's not me – I go where I please – I walk through walls, I float down the Liffey – I'm not here, this isn't happening

Radiohead, "How to Disappear Completely" from album Kid A

"Somebody once said that 'Joyce has made of this river the Ganges of the literary world,' but sometimes the smell of the Ganges of the literary world is not all that literary."

Brendan Behan, Confessions of an Irish Rebel.

"No man who has faced the Liffey can be appalled by the dirt of another river."

Iris Murdoch, Under the Net.

"But the Angelus Bell o'er the Liffey's swell rang out through the foggy dew."

Canon Charles O'Neill, The Foggy Dew.

"You can keep your Michael Flatley with his tattoos on his chest Fare thee well, Sweet Anna Liffey, it's the Ganges I love best I found a place in India so far across the foam You can call me Punjab Paddy, boys, I'm never comin' home!"

Gaelic Storm, "Punjab Paddy from album How Are We Getting Home?" .

Fare thee well sweet Anna Liffey, I can no longer stay I watch the new glass cages, that spring up along the quay My mind's too full of memories, too old to hear new chimes I'm part of what was Dublin
in the rare ould times

Pete St. John, Rare Ould Times

A view upstream from Grattan Bridge, towards the Four Courts
Four Courts
(the domed building), with Essex Quay and Wood Quay
Wood Quay
on the right bank (left of picture) and Upper Ormond Quay on the left bank (right of picture).

See also[edit]

HMS Liffey List of rivers in Ireland Rivers of Ireland


Wikimedia Commons has media related to River Liffey, Ireland.

^ a b " River Liffey
River Liffey
Information". Irelandbyways.com. Retrieved 25 January 2013.  ^ "Ireland" (PDF). Romaneranames.uk. Roman Era Names. Retrieved 1 January 2018.  ^ Archived index at the Wayback Machine. ^ Byrne, F. J. 1973. Irish Kings and High-Kings. Dublin. p.150 ^ As indicated by the caption of an engraving published in 1831 ^ "Seanad Éireann – Vol 159, May, 1999 – Motion on National Archives – David Norris (senator and Trinity lecturer) referencing Georgian Society records". Oireachtas Debates (Hansard). 1999.  ^ "Table of Reference". Rivers and their Catchment Basins. Ordnance Survey of Ireland. 1958.  ^ a b SERBD Report - Physical Description (Chapter) (PDF) (Report). South Eastern River Basin District Management System. p. 38. Archived from the original (PDF) on 3 March 2016.  ^ "River Liffey". fishinginireland.info. Retrieved 25 January 2013.  ^ "'Is it made with Liffey water?' Philip enquires of Guinness". Irish Independent. 18 May 2011. Retrieved 21 August 2017.  ^ "Frequently Asked Questions". Guinness.com. Archived from the original on 11 June 2017. [I]s Guinness
made with water from the River Liffey? [..] No. While [..] situated on the banks of the River Liffey [..] the water used [..] comes from the Wicklow mountains  ^ a b "Background on the Guinness
boats on the Liffey". IrishShips.com. Archived from the original on 19 March 2006.  ^ "Sea Safari". Sesafari.ie. Retrieved 20 August 2017. Tours Suspended for 2016  ^ "Liffey River - River Guide". IWW.ie. IrishWhitewater. Retrieved 21 August 2017.  ^ Project history of Dublin's River Liffey
River Liffey
bridges (PDF). Bridge Engineering 156 Issue BE4 (Report). Phillips & Hamilton. December 2003. pp. 161–179.  ^ Liffey Bridges Survey team (1987). The Liffey bridges from Islandbridge
to Eastlink: A historical and technical report. Liberties Association. p. 4.  ^ "IrishCycle.com Guinness
Bridge/Silver Bridge". Retrieved 3 December 2016.  ^ " Samuel Beckett Bridge
Samuel Beckett Bridge
opens". Irish Times. 11 December 2009.  ^ "Samuel Beckett Bridge". Dublin
City Council. Archived from the original on 9 August 2011.  ^ " Rosie Hackett Bridge
Rosie Hackett Bridge
to open at 6am tomorrow". Irish Times. 20 May 2014.  ^ Kaufman, R (2014). Kaufman Green Guide Dublin. p. 132. ASIN B00OR0W1QK.  ^ "Investigation launched into bus crash". RTE.ie. 4 December 2000.  ^ "Honour for homeless hero who rescued rabbit". Evening Herald. Retrieved on 12 July 2011. ^ "Reward for river rabbit rescuer". The Irish Times. Retrieved on 12 July 2011. ^ "Rabbit rescuer offered job at animal shelter". The Irish Emigrant. Retrieved on 12 July 2011. ^ "Rabbit river rescue hero is offered animal care job". Evening Herald. Retrieved on 12 July 2011. ^ "Award for River Liffey
River Liffey
rabbit rescuer". RTÉ News. Retrieved on 12 July 2011.

v t e

Places in County Kildare

County town: Naas


Athy Celbridge Clane Kilcock Kildare Leixlip Maynooth Naas Newbridge Sallins

Villages and Townlands

Allen Allenwood Ardclogh Ballitore Ballymore Eustace Calverstown Caragh Carbury Castledermot Coill Dubh Derrinturn Eadestown Hawkfield Johnstown Kilberry Kilcullen Kildangan Kill Kilmead Kilmeage Kilteel Lullymore Milltown Monasterevin Moone Narraghmore Nurney Prosperous Rathangan Robertstown Sallins Straffan Staplestown Suncroft Timolin


Bog of Allen Cupidstown Hill Curragh Grand Canal Hill of Allen River Barrow River Blackwater River Boyne Figile River River Greese River Liffey Lyreen River Morell River River Rye Royal Canal


Geography of County Kildare List of National Monuments in County Kildare List of townlands of County Kildare Mountains and hills of County Kildare Rivers of County Kildare

v t e

Rivers of Ireland


Flowing north

Bann Bush Foyle Roe

Flowing to the Irish Sea

Avoca Boyne Camac Castletown Dargle Dodder Fane Lagan Liffey Naniken Newry Poddle Quoile Santry Slaney Tolka Vartry

Flowing to the Celtic Sea

Bandon Blackwater Lee Mahon The Three Sisters

Barrow Nore Suir

Flowing to the Atlantic

Clare Corrib Erne Eske Feale Ferta Moy Robe Shannon Swilly

Tributaries of the Shannon

Abbey River Boyle River Brosna Deel Fergus Inny Maigue Mulkear River Nenagh River Suck

River names in italics indicate rivers which are partially or wholly in Northern Ireland, with the rest being wholly in the Republic of Ireland

v t e

Bridges in Dublin
over the Liffey (west to east)

Lucan West-Link Farmleigh
(disused) Anna Livia Islandbridge Liffey Railway Bridge Seán Heuston Frank Sherwin Rory O'More James Joyce Mellows Father Mathew O'Donovan Rossa Grattan Millennium Ha'penny O'Connell Rosie Hackett Butt Loopline Talbot Memorial Seán O'Casey Samuel Beckett East-Link

Route map: Google

KML file (edit • help)

Display on Google Maps

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