I went to Dublin in November, and as I walked across the Ha'penny Bridge, I noticed loads of padlocks attached to the ironwork, most were just written on with a permanent marker, but some have been properly engraved with names and attached to the bridge. 

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After a little research, I've discovered that the tradition is for couples' to lock the padlock onto the bridge and throw the key into the river to "lock" their love for each other.

My first thoughts were "aww, how romantic" but then I stood there looking at all of the graffiti that surrounded the padlocks. This had obviously been put there by people that couldn't be bothered to walk to a nearby hardware store and spend a couple of pounds on a padlock and a pen. OK, so marker pen can be cleaned off fairly easily, but parts of the beautiful ironwork that had been there since 1816 were clearly being damaged by the padlocks.

I mostly make rings, but not all of my clients that want to symbolise their commitment to each other are getting married, so I'm also really interested in all of the "alternative" ways of doing this. But I was left in a bit of a quandary over what I thought about the whole "lovelock" thing.

I was definitely not impressed with the way that beautiful bridge was being damaged but it made me wonder that if, in a different place, where you're not contributing to the decay of any architecture, I actually thought that this was quite a cool idea?

So, I did a bit more googling and found out that the tradition may have started sometime before WW2 and that it's becoming increasingly popular all over the world!

Here are a few photo's that I hope Wikipedia won't mind me borrowing ;)

A purpose-built iron tree on a bridge across the Vodootvodny Canal in Moscow completely covered in love padlocks.

A purpose-built iron tree on a bridge across the Vodootvodny Canal in Moscow completely covered in love padlocks.

Prague love padlocks can in Malá Strana district on a small pedestrian bridge over a sidearm of the in front of a water wheel.

Prague love padlocks can in Malá Strana district on a small pedestrian bridge over a sidearm of the in front of a water wheel.

Pont de l'Archevêché in Paris

Pont de l'Archevêché in Paris

Nearly every metal chain-link fence or metal pole in Mount Huang, China has been adorned with padlocks, where it is customary to 'lock your soul' together and then throw the key over the edge of the cliff into the misty valleys below. This may be where the tradition originated.

Nearly every metal chain-link fence or metal pole in Mount HuangChina has been adorned with padlocks, where it is customary to 'lock your soul' together and then throw the key over the edge of the cliff into the misty valleys below. This may be where the tradition originated.

This is pretty cool! Lock-On Tacoma is an interactive love and wishing lock sculpture located in Tacoma, Washington. Made by Diane Hansen in 2013

This is pretty cool! Lock-On Tacoma is an interactive love and wishing lock sculpture located in Tacoma, Washington. Made by Diane Hansen in 2013

So, it looks like this tradition is one that is growing, but is it really just littering?

I think that the more modern bridges that have been covered look kind of cool and the padlocks add to the overall design of the architecture, but then there's all those bits of metal that are adding to the pollution of the river below. I love the "idea" of locking your love but maybe there's a more environmentally friendly way of doing it? Answers on a postcard please and I'll start making them!

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