Sixmilebridge is a small town located between Ennis and Limerick city, while the village of Kilmurry is also part of the Sixmilebridge parish. The town takes its name in both Irish and English from the bridge over the O’Garney River which flows through the village. The 4th Earl of Thomond, Donough O’Brien, built the present bridge in 1610 – and from then until up to 1804 when the bridge at Bunratty was built, traffic between Limerick and Ennis had to pass through Sixmilebridge.
Origin of Name: Sixmilebridge takes its name from the Irish ‘Droichead Abhann Uí gCearnaigh’ meaning ‘Bridge of the River of O'Kearney’. The ‘six mile’ part of the name alludes to the fact that the village is approximately 6 Irish miles from Thomondgate in Limerick.
The village has wide streets and large squares – as laid out by the O’Briens in the 16th and 17th centuries. The O’Briens lived in Cappagh Lodge, a farm house just outside the village and the east of the village was its commercial part, with water powered mills, a brewery, a market house and a fair green. You’ll see that street and square names are displayed on the dated stone plaques.
During the 18th century, Sixmilebridge was a river port where goods such as rape seed oil and soap were exported and imported by boat from the Oil Mills just south of the village. You’ll see remains of the quay walls, warehousing, the soap factory and stone mill wheels. Many of the old buildings in the village have been preserved and have found alternative uses. The former Church of Ireland church has been converted to an award-winning library and the former Woollen Mills are now apartments.
A novel feature of Sixmilebridge is the highly decorated but functional ‘duck inn’ on the O’Garney River. This is a floating raft with glass windows and painted walls which houses a large population of very happy ducks!
Modern Sixmilebridge is now one of the major population centres of County Clare. The village has flourishing GAA and soccer club while leisure activities include the local youth club and folk club.