Bluffs, Bays and Pools in the medieval Liffey at Dublin


Bluffs, Bays and Pools in the medieval Liffey at Dublin

By John W. de Courcy

Irish Geography, Vol.33:2 (2000)

Abstract: The course of the river Liffey in Dublin city is not straight. Between Mellowes (Queen Maeve) Bridge and East Link Bridge there are two deviations; one to the north and one to the south. This paper examines these deviations and seeks their origin in the bluffs, bays and pools of the river in medieval times. Locations are suggested for these features.

Introduction: There are several words in this title that require comment. ‘Medieval’ covers many centuries. It is useful however to suggest a single year as a base date and the year 1000 has been chosen. The reasons for this choice include the following—

  • the Viking resettlement at Dublin was in progress;
  • the first earthen banks, man’s first significant intervention in the Liffey topography at Dublin, were about 100 years old;
  • the stone wall across the Wood Quay site was still about 100 years in the future;
  • the area along Fishamble Street was inhabited;
  • the Liffey passing by had by then taken on the overall shape that it would have retained for the next 1000 years, had the people of Dublin during that period not thought otherwise and laboured to confine it;
  • the tidal regime had reached some long time earlier a constancy that would not change since that time; and
  • there was little if any built development on the north bank of the river in 1000.

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