In the mid-eighteenth century there was no town of Newbridge, the area being part of the Barony of Connell. The name survives in Old Connell, which still has the remains of an ancient church and Great Connell, where there was once a large monastery of Augustinian Canons. This monastery was expensive enough to house Richard II on his return journey to England where he would be deposed by Henry Bolingbroke. The last Catholic Bishop of Kildare, Bishop Wellesley, had been the abbot of Great Connell.
In 1780 a bridge was built across the river Liffey a short distance upstream from the existing bridge. In 1816 a large cavalry barracks which accommodated eighteen hundred horses was constructed nearby. This was needed in order to extend security outside Dublin after the rebellion of 1798 and again during the Napoleonic wars. The town grew up around this complex. It is, perhaps regrettable that the ancient name of Connell was not kept for the new town.