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An Droichead Abhann Uí gCearnaigh
Limerick Road, Sixmilebridge
Limerick Road, Sixmilebridge
Sixmilebridge is located in Ireland
Location in Ireland
Coordinates: 52°44′35″N 8°46′23″W / 52.743°N 8.773°W / 52.743; -8.773Coordinates: 52°44′35″N 8°46′23″W / 52.743°N 8.773°W / 52.743; -8.773
Country Ireland
Province Munster
County County Clare
Elevation 8 m (26 ft)
Population (2011)[1]
 • Urban 2,507
Irish Grid Reference R474664

Sixmilebridge (Irish: Droichead Abhann Uí gCearnaigh, meaning "Bridge of the River of O'Kearney") is a small town in County Clare, Ireland. Located midway between Ennis and Limerick city, the town is a short distance away from the main N18 road, being on the old "back road" between the two. The village of Kilmurry (Irish: Cill Mhuire) is also part of the Sixmilebridge parish.

Sixmilebridge partly serves as a dormitory town for workers in Limerick city, Ennis and Shannon region, with hundreds of modern housing units being built to accommodate demand in recent years. The commercial core of Sixmilebridge has effectively tripled in size in recent years too, with many new retail units and businesses choosing to locate in the village.


In antiquity, the name of the village seemed to be Cappagh (that name still present in local townlands), chiefly on the west side of the river, and Ballyarilla on the east. An ancient name of the river appears to be Raite, today anglicised into Ratty; as the river flows past Bunratty Castle into the Shannon Estuary, it is still known as the Ratty. Kilfinaghty seemed to always be the name of the parish of Sixmilebridge. The village was under the Lordship of Thomond, especially the Mcnamaras and the O'Briens. It is assumed that the original local lords were the O'Garneys, but there is little or no reference to them in the annals. There is evidence of early settlement around the river, dating back at least to the Bronze Age. The main English lords of the area were the Ievers of Mount Ievers, the Butlers of Castlecrine, and the D'Esterres of Rossmanagher. All three of their houses (two of which have been demolished) are built on the sight of earlier castles.After the Levers came, building their seat on Ballyarilla Castle, that side of the river became known as Ieverstown, the other O'Brienstown. Sixmilebridge surpassed both these names in the 18th Century.

The unusual English name of the village derives, as Thomas Dineley who visited Sixmilebridge in 1681, describes:

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 original village grew up around a crossing place on the O'Garney River. By the end of the 17th century development was tied to the industrialisation of the area as people of Dutch origin found the river very suitable for milling. This ended abruptly with the building of a toll bridge on the river by Henry D'Esterre (Ó Dálaigh 2004). D'Esterre's construction gained a profit from people crossing the river but halted the trading done with Holland.

According to local tradition,[2] the famous duel between Daniel O'Connell and a member of the D'Esterre family in February 1815 arose from O'Connell's refusal to pay the toll. This conflicts with the conventional account of the duel. D'Esterre lost his life, but the toll bridge survived and remains standing to this day.

1852 election affray[edit]

On 22 July 1852, a magistrate and eight soldiers of the 31st Regiment escorted 18 tenants of the Marquess of Conyngham to Sixmilebridge to vote for Colonel Vandeleur in the Clare county constituency at the general election. Vandeleur was a Conservative opposed to tenants' rights. A crowd of protesters, including two Catholic priests, was gathered near the ballot office, and an affray began between them and the voters' party. Soldiers opened fire, without the Riot Act having been read. Six people were killed at the scene and eight wounded, one of whom later died.[3][4] At the coroner's inquest, the jury returned a verdict of murder; this was overturned by the Attorney-General for Ireland.[5] An article in the Anglo-Celt accused the regiment of "willful and deliberate murder", and the editor was jailed for libel.[6] The affair was discussed at Westminster, where Conservative members demanded the priests be prosecuted for incitement.[5][7][8][9][10][11][12][13] The events generated lingering bitterness and tension.

Parishes and churches[edit]

In 1837, the town was split between the Church of Ireland parishes of Kilfentinan and Kilfinaghty while the Roman Catholic parish of Sixmilebridge was a union of the Kilmurry-Negaul, Kilfinaghta and Feenagh parishes.[14][15]

The church of St. Finnachta was built in 1812 in Sixmilebridge, a thatched building with a mud floor. In 1980 the building was reconstructed and considerably enlarged.[16] This is the only church in use in the Catholic parish of Sixmilebridge, which is in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Killaloe.[17] The Little Church, of Cratloe Parish, on the Limerick Road, is part of the Diocese of Limerick. It less than 500 metres (1,600 ft) away from St. Finnachta’s. The former Church of Ireland (Anglican) building on Church Street, Kilfinaghty Church, is now used as the local branch of Clare County Library. The oldest church in the parish is that of Ballysheen, reputedly built in the 12th Century by Saint Finaghta. It is in a bad state, with two of the four walls still standing. Its surrounding graveyard is still a popular burial place for people of the parish.


A unique feature of Sixmilebridge is the highly decorated but functional "duck inn" on the O'Garney River, occupied by a thriving population of ducks. The duck inn is a floating raft with glass windows and painted walls. It houses the ducks during winter and is also where their locally consumed eggs are hatched and collected. It forms part of the tourist trail of Sixmilebridge.

Each January, the village plays host to a colourful selection of singers, instrumentalists, dancers and yarn spinners for the Sixmilebridge Winter Music Weekend. This festival was established in 2000 by the Sixmilebridge Folk Club. The event lasts one weekend and has wide-ranging acts and events including French street groups, Irish, American and English singer-songwriters, oldtime bands, stand up comedians, singing and dancing workshops, blues singers and bluegrass bands. Some heavyweights on the Irish music scene usually headline. Kate Purcell, Johnny Moynihan, Mick Hanly, and Andy Irvine have all played. The festival is unique for its open itinerary and insistence on nearly all gigs being acoustic and wireless. The January 2008 programme featured Karan Casey, Simon Mayor, and a slew of bluegrass, blues, and traditional Irish acts, along with new features such as a Klezmer band, and an "Open Mic" afternoon in association with the local Youth Club and Teen Cafe.


  • The Sixmilebridge Tidy Towns committee.
  • The Sixmilebridge Youth Club.
  • The Sixmilebridge Variety Group.
  • The Bridge Complex.


There are two primary schools in the Sixmilebridge Parish, namely Sixmilebridge National School and Kilmurry National School. For secondary education, students go to schools in Limerick, Shannon, Ennis and Tulla.


Gaelic games[edit]

Sports are prominent in the area with locals partaking in Hurling and Soccer. The local GAA club is Sixmilebridge GAA and gets its players from the Sixmilebridge and Kilmurry area. The club was formed in 1904 mainly as a Gaelic football club, but also played hurling, the sport that is now most associated with the club. The land used was donated to the GAA by the Casey family. Nowadays the club participates at hurling, camogie and scór. The club is well known for its hurling and many players from there have represented their county with distinction down through the years with some having the honour of winning Munster and All-Ireland Hurling championships with Clare at Senior, Junior and Minor levels. The club also won an All-Ireland club title (becoming the first team from Clare to have won it) on 17 March (St. Patrick's day) 1996.


The local soccer (football) club is called Bridge United AFC. The club was formed in 1967. They have enjoyed success, with some players receiving trials with professional clubs in England down through the years. The highlight of their history was their first big win, the Clare and District Soccer League Premier Division title 1972/73 season. They have since repeated that feat twice in 2002/03 and 2005/06 respectively.


There is a pitch and putt and nine hole golf course at Kilmurry, Sixmilebridge which is open year round.

Other sports[edit]

There are a number of sport societies and clubs in the area which cater to Sixmilebridge and District. There is the Kilmurry Community Games, Sixmilebridge Golf Society,Bridge Milers Olympic Harriers Athletic Club {BMOH AC}, Tradaree Coursing Club, Sixmilebridge Gun Club and Kilmurry Gun Club. Some locals also have horses and some play rugby.


As well as the river, there are many lakes in the area such as Mountcashel lake and these waters provide a chance to catch coarse pike, bream and roach. Game fish such as trout and salmon can also be caught in the river but certain laws and rules apply. Sixmilebridge Angling Club exists to protect and promote the positive spirit of angling throughout the Owen O'Garney River system.


The Limerick–Athenry railway line passes through the village. Sixmilebridge railway station opened on 17 January 1859 and finally closed on 17 June 1963. It was reopened on 29 March 2010 as part of the reopening of the Western Rail Corridor.[18]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ "Census 2006 – Volume 1 – Population Classified by Area" (PDF). Central Statistics Office Census 2006 Reports. Central Statistics Office Ireland. April 2007. Retrieved 8 June 2011. 
  2. ^ "Clare Library". Retrieved 18 December 2011. 
  3. ^ The Irish jurist, Volume 5, pp.41–45. Retrieved 18 December 2011. 
  4. ^ A Military History of Ireland by Thomas Bartlett, Keith Jeffery pp.377–8. Retrieved 18 December 2011. 
  5. ^ a b "HC Deb 16 November 1852 vol 123 cc201-5". Retrieved 18 December 2011. 
  6. ^ "Six Mile Bridge Incident, county Clare". Retrieved 18 December 2011. 
  7. ^ "HL Deb 21 February 1853 vol 124 cc335-41". Retrieved 18 December 2011. 
  8. ^ "HC Deb 28 February 1853 vol 124 c740". Retrieved 18 December 2011. 
  9. ^ "HC Deb 17 March 1853 vol 125 cc316-96". Retrieved 18 December 2011. 
  10. ^ "HL Deb 18 March 1853 vol 125 cc396-400". Retrieved 18 December 2011. 
  11. ^ "HC Deb 8 April 1853 vol 125 cc888-99". Retrieved 18 December 2011. 
  12. ^ "HL Deb 24 June 1853 vol 128 cc699-726". Retrieved 18 December 2011. 
  13. ^ "HC Deb 15 July 1853 vol 129 cc292-306". Retrieved 18 December 2011. 
  14. ^ Lewis, Samuel (1837, 1995). County Clare, A History and Topography. Ennis: CLASP Press. ISBN 1-900545-00-4.  Check date values in: |date= (help) p. 37
  15. ^ Ó Murchadha, Ciarán (2008). The Diocese of Killaloe : An illustrated History. Booklink.  p. 211
  16. ^ "Sixmilebridge". Diocese of Killaloe. Retrieved 2014-04-01. 
  17. ^ "Sixmilebridge Churches". Diocese of Killaloe. Retrieved 2014-04-01. 
  18. ^ "Sixmilebridge station" (PDF). Railscot – Irish Railways. Retrieved 24 November 2007. 

Ó Dálaigh, Brian (2004). "A History of Sixmilebridge, County Clare, 1603—1911". Irish Villages: Studies in Local History. Dublin: Four Courts Press. pp. 243–280. ISBN 1-85182-766-8.