In the early 15th Century the local Ruler, Bearded Owen O’Reilly, set up a market in Cavan at the junction of Main Street and Bridge Street and this was marked by a cross, which was there until the late 1700s. Bridge Street linked Tullymongan Castle to St Mary’s Abbey and was named after the bridge across the River Kinnypottle. Merchants from surrounding counties frequented the market and bought items such as wool, wood and leather at prices that were cheaper than in their own areas. Cavan Town then grew up around the market. The O’Reilly family prospered and they even minted their own money! The expression “the life of Reilly” is said to have originated in Cavan as a result of the Market Cross.
In the later 1560s, Lord Deputy Henry Sidney wrote of Cavan’s great town and castle. This was also the site of twice yearly hiring fairs held in May and November, where local youths offered themselves for work on farms. The tradition continued until 1950 and in the local press in May of 1950, it states “For the first time in living memory neither male or female presenting themselves for hire at Cavan May Fair. Hopefully we have seen the end of this barbaric custom”. This article leads us to assume that not all of these youths had good experiences with their employers.
In the 1700s one of two Methodist Churches in the town was also located on this street.