Sixmilebridge, or Droichead Abhann Uí gCearnaigh, derives its name in both languages from the bridge over the O'Garney river which flows through the village. Donough O'Brien, the 4th Earl of Thomond, built the present bridge in 1610. From then, up to 1804 when the bridge at Bunratty was built, traffic between Limerick and Ennis had to pass through Sixmilebridge.
The first element of the Sixmilebridge name derives from the fact that the village is approximately 6 Irish miles from Thomondgate in Limerick. The Irish mile, which is 2240 yards in length, along with the Irish acre and the Irish perch were introduced during the Cromwellian land distribution (post 1652). The earliest recorded use of the Sixmilebridge name dates from 1681 when Thomas Dineley noted the name in his diary.
The village is fortunate in having wide streets and large squares. The upper, or western, part of the village was laid out by the O’Briens in the 16th and 17th centuries. This was, and is, the administrative part of the village containing the police barracks, courthouse, bridewell, post office, churches and the school. The O’Briens lived in Cappagh Lodge, a farm house just outside the village. The Eastern side was laid out by the Ievers in 1733 and was the commercial part of the village. It contained water powered mills, a brewery, a market house and a fair green. Street and square names may be seen on dated stone plaques. The Ievers lived (and continue to do so) in Mount Ievers Court, a beautiful Queen Anne style house.
A remarkable fact about Sixmilebridge is that during the 18th century, it was a river port where goods were exported and imported by boat from the Oil Mills, a short distance south of the village. Exports from the Oil Mills were rape seed oil and later soap, manufactured at the Mills. Remains of the quay walls, warehousing, the soap factory and stone mill wheels may still be seen.
The village is also fortunate in that many of the old buildings have been preserved and have found alternative uses. The former Church of Ireland church has been converted to an award-winning library, the courthouse is now a childcare facility, the market house contains auction rooms, the police barracks are now a credit union and the former Wollen Mills may be converted to apartments, subject to planning permission.
Modern Sixmilebridge is now one of the major population centres of Co. Clare. The native population has been augmented by new arrivals from all over Ireland as well as from continental Europe. New housing estates have recently been built and more are under construction on the outskirts of the village. New shops have opened and professionals have set up their practices to cater for the increasing population. The village has flourishing GAA and soccer clubs, a Youth club and a Folk club, to name a few of the leisure- related activities.