Newmarket was originally called Áth Trasna which describes a ford or a river crossing. This ford was situated to the west of the town on the river Dalua and was reached in the past by travelling along part of the the old Kerry road to the Dalua and continuing westward past the ancient cemetery of Clonfert. This crossing was important at a time when there were few bridges and it was part of one of the main routes from Cork into Kerry. It was natural that towns grew up around river crossings as can be seen by the way in which the city of Dublin, Baile Áth Cliath, developed near a ford across the River Liffey.

The present lay-out of Newmarket town has developed over the centuries and it is likely that there was in earlier times a small village along the Kerry Road to the west of the modern town. Newmarket was part of Clanawley, the territory of The McAuliffe Clan. It is probable from the great wealth of legend and folklore that is attached to the clan, that the McAuliffes had been in Duhallow for a long time before the McCarthys,the O’Keeffes and The O’Callaghans arrived, driven southwards in the turmoil that followed the Norman invasion. The McAuliffe clan rally is held in Newmarket every four years and the next rally is scheduled for 2016. The rally is a great festive occasion and attracts visitors from all parts of the world to the town.

The savage wars of the sixteenth century slowly destroyed the fabric of the old gaelic order and the McAuliffes finally lost control of their lands at the beginning of the Seventeenth century when Clanawley was granted to Richard Aldworth, a soldier in the English Army. Thus began a long association of the Aldworth family with Newmarket and this association was to shape the town in many ways. Aldworth was granted a license to hold a market in the town in 1615 and this gave the town a new importance and the Main street started to grow at the entrance to Aldworth’s walled estate.

John Philpot Curran, the famous lawyer and orator was born in the town and his daughter Sarah, the beloved of Robert Emmet, is buried in the Protestant churchyard there. The Aldworths built an imposing mansion, Newmarket Court, to the east of the town and this fine building is now The James O’Keeffe Memorial Institute which is the headquarters for IRD Duhallow which plays an important part in the economic and cultural life of Newmarket and Duhallow in general.

Newmarket has always served a large agricultural hinterland with fairs, markets and services. The stone building which fronts the spacious Community Centre once housed a market place on the ground floor with a courthouse overhead. Though the cattle fairs and markets are no more, the famous horse fair is still held twice yearly in February and October and is a colourful occasion attracting as many onlookers as horse dealers and the presence of many stalls give it an old world flavour. The Newmarket Summer Festival commences on the last weekend in June and runs for 10 days. There are many events held throughout the festivities and the Turbett’s funfare at the west end draws huge crowds young and old.

The local Co-Operative Creamery has become a major player in the production of cheese and it’s different varieties of cheddar cheese are gaining an ever increasing reputation at home and abroad. When it is operating at full capacity it processes 1.3 million litres of milk and produces 130 tonnes of cheese per day.

The town is primarily a provider of services to a wide local community. It has excellent supermarkets, shops and garages, comprehensive medical and legal services, comfortable bars and a wide range of small restaurants and one of the biggest nite clubs in Munster. In addition there are many providers of specialist services of various kinds. It has two primary schools as well as excellent pre-school facilities and St. Mary’s Church which was erected in 1834 is a fine building, simple in style it has been very well maintained and renovated over the years and stands at the heart of the community. It contains some fine stained glass windows.

Newmarket is a community with many organisations that sustain and help to bind it together. Foremost among these organisations is the Local GAA club which has been in existence for over a hundred years. Through the hard work of many people over the years the club has now got facilities of the highest standard, state of the art dressing rooms, a gym and committee rooms together with two excellent pitches in a picturesque setting.The club colours of black and red are well known throughout the county and have waved over many a victory including a county championship win in 1970 and 1998, and most recently the minor hurling team won the county in 2010. The club caters for a great number of young people and has an excellent juvenile structure all of which is based on a tremendous amount of voluntary work. The GAA club is also responsible for two public tennis courts adjoining the children’s play ground at the west end of the town. Another sporting activity is catered for by the Duhallow Horse & Pony Co-Op. who have impressive equestrian arenas near the James O’Keeffe Institute which are also used by the Duhallow Riding Club near the James O’Keeffe Institute not far from the local pitch & putt course.

In addition to sport, other forms of social life are not forgotten.There is a strong musical tradition in the locality and a Land League Band formed at the end of the 19th century was succeeded by a pipe band in the early years of the 20th. The Newmarket Pipe Band of the present day, which was founded in 1962 is one of the best known in southern Ireland. It is impossible to imagine Newmarket without it. In its black and red uniform it enlivens all local celebrations as well as being invited to perform at other venues all over Munster. It has a well equipped bandroom on the Kerry road and new members are always welcome. Traditional music has a great following in the area and Scully’s session held on Monday nights for many years is rated one of the best in the country.

The local day care group (the ‘Thursday Club’) is very active showing that the contribution made by older members of the community is recognised and appreciated.

One of the greatest amenities possessed by the people of Newmarket is the Island Wood on the banks of the Dalua a short distance south of the town. This is a favourite place for walkers young and old and for anglers as well. The woodland walks provide a haven of peace and beauty for locals and for visitors alike. The following books provide more detailed information about the town:

A history of Newmarket by David Allen (Brother Henry).
A history of Newmarket G.A.A.Club 1899 – 1999 by Jimmy Cross.
The Newmarket Pipe Band Story by Dermot Jones.