Our History

The History of The Bridge Tavern

The Bridge Tavern was run as an Inn by the Halpin family in the 1800s providing accommodation and it was in this historic building that the pioneering Captain Robert Halpin was born in 1836.

The Bridge Tavern is built where the Vartry River runs into the Irish sea at Wicklow Harbour. This was an important sea-trading port in olden times, where coal, spices and other luxuries reached Ireland. To this day, Wicklow Harbour is a picturesque port with view of both the Wicklow mountains and the Black Castle which overlook the bay.

Robert Halpin spent most of his early childhood days watching the sailing ships moored in the port only yards away and listening to the merchants’ tales exchanged over food and a beverage at the Tavern.

Great advances were being made in Marine Technology in the 1840s and sailors’ ambitions and tales were growing. Many had high hopes to conquer the Atlantic crossing. At the tender age of 11 years, Robert Halpin joined the crew of The Briton, a ship engaged in the Canadian timber trade.

In 1858, he became involved in the new sea route from Galway to Newfoundland, a shorter Atlantic crossing.

Robert was most famous for the key role he played in linking Europe and North America by telegraphic cable. As Commander of the largest ship involved, The Great Eastern, he laid approx 26,000 miles of cable between the two continents.

In 1875, he returned to Wicklow where he built Tinakilly House as a family home.

He died in 1894 and is buried in the Church of Ireland cemetery in Wicklow Town. A granite monument stands in the centre of the town commemorating his great life and career.

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