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Clare Places: Towns & Villages
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County Clare: A History
and Topography 1837 by Samuel Lewis
When Thomas Dineley visited Sixmilebridge in 1681 it was a well-established developed town. In his account of how to reach Limerick from Bunratty Dineley explains how Sixmilebridge was named: "From Bunratty, the seat of the Earl of Thomond, into the town of Sixmilebridge, belonging also to that noble family, is 3 miles; from whence to the city of Limerick, to which are two ways, namely by the oil mills and the seat of the Mc Namaras beyond it, or over the high mountain, famous for its admirable prospect, hanging as it were over Sixmilebridge town and commonly known as Gallows Hill; this is the upper, the other the lower way to Limerick and from town to the city six miles either way, whence the town hath its name".
The early history is vague but the original village
gradually came into existence around this crossing place on the O'Garney
River. With the arrival of the Ievers family development became less
haphazard. By the end of the seventeenth century the part of the village
south of the river became known as Ieverstown and the northern part
O'Brien's Town. This development was tied to the industrialisation of
the area as people of Dutch origin found the river very suitable for
The River Trade was an important factor in the development of Sixmilebridge. Unlikely as it may now seem, boats from Amsterdam sailed up the river almost as far as the town in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. By the early part of the eighteenth century the town had gone into decline and the river trade came to an end in 1784 with the building of D'Esterre's Bridge at Rosmanagher. By 1831 the town contained 229 houses and 1,491 inhabitants. The markets were discontinued by 1837 and the roof had fallen in on the market house. A large corn mill which had been converted into a paper mill had ceased operation. Even the tower of the Protestant church became a symbol of a busy town decaying into a quiet village. The tower was considered unsafe, taken down and replaced but there was no such resurrection for the trade of Sixmilebridge.
Sixmilebridge owed its existence to the river and as the importance of the river diminished so did that of the village. When Bunratty Bridge was built in 1804 Sixmilebridge was no longer on the main road to the West. Like most Irish villages, Sixmilebridge has unrealised potential. It is architecturally attractive with three squares and a green and the bridge over the river is still the main focal point. Set in a picturesque area, frequented by many visitors, possessing accommodation suitable for industry, trade and tourism and, most importantly, having a proud past, Sixmilebridge surely has also a promising future.