HARD-HEARTED city authorities have vowed to remove the "Love Padlocks" that have appeared in their hundreds on Dublin's Ha'penny Bridge in the past few months.
The quirky custom, which is said to have originated from continental Europe, sees young lovers etching their names on brass padlocks and attaching them to the historic bridge as a sign of their unbreakable bond.
In some cases, couples inscribe their names on to the padlock and then throw the keys into the Liffey as a symbol of their "everlasting" love.
However, Dublin City Council has condemned the practice, which has been sweeping the capital since Christmas, calling the padlocks an "eyesore''.
A spokesperson said: "We do know about this new padlock thing. We will be removing any padlocks from the Ha'penny Bridge and any other bridges where they have been attached.
"We would ask the public to refrain from putting any padlocks on to any of the bridges in the city."
The Ha'penny Bridge is not the only Dublin bridge affected; there have been reports of dozens of the padlocks on the Millennium Bridge also.
Labour councillor Padraig McLaughlin says the practice is not good for the city, and that he backed the decision to remove the offending padlocks. "The problem is that if you are attaching brass padlocks on to a structure like that, there is going to be a problem with corrosion.
"The Ha'penny Bridge is already a historical enough landmark, I don't see the need for this," he said.
The tradition of attaching padlocks to public structures is new to Ireland, but it has been commonplace in some European cities over the past few years. The most famous instance is in Florence, where the local council was criticised for removing more than 5,000 padlocks from the Ponte Vecchio.
The original source of the tradition is not yet known, and Love Padlock structures only started appearing around Europe in the early 2000s.
An Italian novel called "I Want You" is most commonly associated with originating the practice. A bridge in Serbia called The Bridge of Love also claims to be the birthplace of the custom.