In the early nineteenth century Ireland's primitive road network was being greatly expanded and improved. As part of this improvement a direct road from Kenmare to Bantry was proposed. Work on the road began in 1834 and as the work progressed the question of a bridge across the Kenmare River was discussed to replace the ferry.
The construction of the bridge took approximately one year and was completed in 1841. Ireland’s first suspension bridge, the total cost was £7,280 of which the Marquis of Lansdowne contributed £3,200. The original decking was of timber, but this was replaced in 1861 with wrought iron plates.
Under traffic, the bridge deck sagged and rose in an alarming manner and gave the impression of being in danger of imminent collapse. Early in 1932 the bridge was declared unsafe and closed to traffic, and demolition followed.
An opening ceremony for the replacement bridge ‘Our lady’s Bridge’ was performed on March 25, 1933, by Mr Sean T.O'Kelly, Minister for Local Government.