|Clare County Library||
|The changing ruling class in Sixmilebridge and the impact they left on the community, 1650-1900 by Jayme Keogh|
These three parish priests all played no small part in turning Sixmilebridge into a very politically active area and these priests even succeeded in taking over the mantle as the ruling class of the area from the now weakening landlords. Sixmilebridge was not alone as this period was seen as the high point, in both politics and status, for the clergy throughout Ireland. However the priests of Sixmilebridge all took this to another level and it was Fr. Cornelius Clune who set this benchmark while leading out the first mass meeting for Daniel O’Connell in County Clare and his leadership in these political matters was the first of its kind to be seen in Sixmilebridge. His replacement and namesake Fr. Michael Clune was every bit as active politically which was highlighted in the Election Massacre of 1852 with his prominent role in matters. Following these events the new status held by the clergy was seen in that Fr. Clune was found not guilty in court despite clearly playing a large role in agitating the crowd that day. Fr. Michael Clune was then replaced by Fr. Little who once again carried on the tradition now of being very active politically but it is very hard to say that following on from both Frs. Cornelius and Michael Clune that there was pressure on Fr. Little to carry on the leadership qualities previously shown or was Sixmilebridge just lucky to have had these three politically active priests in a row. Fr. Little was also lucky to have been found not guilty in court but his greatest work has to be his willingness to co-operate with the Ievers family and encourage the rebirth of Irish in the area which was something new to see two contrasting sides of the ruling class working together to benefit the common people. But it could be also seen as the changing of the times within Sixmilebridge and the country as a whole and rather than ignore the changes Fr. Little embraced them reaped the benefits as well as the people of Sixmilebridge.
It is through the different actions by each priest that
moulded their historical legacy even though they were predominantly on
secular issues but it is this kind of leadership from the Church that
has helped mould the people of Sixmilebridge over the years but this was
only possible once the Church had taken over power from the earlier ruling
class the landlords who very much so had made their mark on the people.
The start of this can go back as far as the naming of the area and the
subsequent building of the village by the O’Brien’s and the
Ievers which made the area one of a very few areas within Clare with an
industrial history although the extent of which was never too successful
but yet has left its impact on the history of the village.
The reminder of this past is very distinctive once you enter the village
today with an iconic statue of a miller in the river, as a tribute to
the past, in the centre of the village and along with the architectural
layout of the village and place names such as Ieverstown, Frederick Square
to name a few make sure the history of the areas past will never be forgotten
despite the areas booming growth, in the last twenty years, as a result
to the growth of the Shannon airport and industrial zone. The sense of
the spirit and togetherness within the village today is now carried by
the very successful hurling club which the area is known for around the
country since their All Ireland success on St. Patrick’s Day 1996.
Emergence of the Church