ANNA LIVIA BRIDGE
Anna Livia Bridge - the name - officially came into being on Bloomsday, June 16th 1982, the centenary of the birth of James Joyce. Water - wave tossed and briney - carried Joyce away from Ireland on his self-imposed journey of exile and it was Anna Livia’s soft, brackish waters which carried him back. His riverside musings as a young man, here on the banks of the Liffey at Chapelizod, would one day flow from his pen in the character of Anna Livia Plurabelle. Anna Livia is a spirit, a goddess of rebirth and renewal, her long flowing hair is the river as it tumbles down from the heathery boglands of the Wicklow Hills, gathers life through the plainlands of Kildare and flows with serene maturity through Chapelizod before entering the sea at Dublin. Joyce reached deep into the annals of Irish history to source his matriarchal heroine who is older than Dublin itself. Variants of her name from the Irish Abhainn Liphthe to the prosaic Avenlif, exist in records from early in the first millennium.
‘O tell me all about Anna Livia!
I want to hear all about Anna Livia.’
(Finnegans Wake 196.1-216.5)
Fate entwined Joyce with the beautiful and melodic Anna Livia for she is special among fellow river spirits: not weary as the bearded Old Father Thames, nor malevolent as Boiuna of the Amazon or voiceless like the Seine once she departs from the sacred pool of the goddess Sequana. More worldly concerns brought about Joyce’s visits to Chapelizod, which feature not only in Finnegans Wake but also in Dubliners. His father had business connections with the Chapelizod Distillery - once a thriving concern, its downfall heralding the bankruptcy of Joyce senior. This chapter of Joyce’s story ends where it began: with the river and the Anna Livia Bridge, re-christened by Dublin City Council in celebration of Joyce and Chapelizod.