Ireland’s Oldest “in-use” Bridge

As it stands, the narrow, four-arched bridge at Trim is essentially a medieval structure with some minor eighteenth-century alterations and pointing that appears to be of nineteenth-century date.

The present bridge was constructed after an earlier one was destroyed by floods in 1330.  On the basis of the architectural evidence (particularly the pointed segmental arches) the bridge at Trim can be dated to the period between 1330 and 1350. With the exception of some minor repairs in the eighteenth century, pointing in the nineteenth century and the reinforcement of the piers in the 1970s, the structure of the bridge at Trim has changed little since it was erected in the mid fourteenth century. It is arguably the oldest unaltered bridge still in everyday use in Ireland.

This bridge, which is founded on solid bedrock, consists of four pointed segmental masonry arches, each spanning c.4.9m with a rise of c.2.05m.  The piers are 2.45m thick and the bridge is 6.4m wide with solid parapets finished with copingstones.

Was this Ireland’s first toll bridge ?  Well,  documentary evidence during periods when Trim was in royal hands and the Castle was rented from the archbishops of Armagh shows the rental included a fee for the site of the bridge, that the rental specifically included money for the site of the bridge is recorded in a variety of contemporary financial records between 1258 and 1443, and it was almost certainly covered by payments made both before and after this period.  This is the only known instance in Ireland of rental being imposed or paid for the site of a bridge.