Carlisle Bridge was the site of many public executions. Among the executed were those who disagreed with the church, (burned here during religious power struggles in the 14th century), and rebel army soldiers hung during the Irish Rebellion of 1798. The original bridge was made of rope, but in 1794-98 a narrow wooden bridge with a hump was built. Around 1879, the bridge was rebuilt again. This time the hump was removed, the bridge was built in concrete and widened to almost square, being as wide as it is long. In 1882, it was reopened and renamed O’Connell Bridge, in honor of Daniel O’Connell.
1798, the year the wooden bridge was completed, was a bloody year of rebellion in Ireland. The most famous battle of the rebellion took place on May 19th, 1798, in front of the bridge on what is now O’Connell Street. The British won the gory battle, and many of the surviving United Irishmen Army soldiers were subsequently hung at the bridge. One of these men was Thomas Bacon, a former tailor and a major general in the army. In the summer of 1798, the newspapers printed this account of his hanging:
“From the barracks to the place of execution, he was conveyed in a cart through several principal and populous streets, in terrorem to the multitude, and such a melancholy and ignominious fate, attending a man of his rank in life, would in no other person excite more public interest, or have more effect, as he was very generally known. He is said to have confessed that he had knowledge of the conspiracy existing against the government, but was uniformly against suffering assassination to form a part of the system. He denied any knowledge of having been elected a major-general in the rebel army; but admitted that the rank had been offered him, and said he had refused it.- He has left a wife and several female children behind him, the oldest of whom, a very beautiful girl, excited much pity and compassion this day in the castle-yard, where she appeared in all the wildness of grief and distraction.” (New Jersey Journal, August 14, 1798).