(Located just 2 miles outside of Feakle on the R468 in Eastern County Clare, approximately a 30 minute drive North of Limerick City)
The path that leads to her home is over grown and you really need to know where it is to spot it. Once you have, you walk a short way up the path (which is usually muddy and slippery) and at the top are the remains of her home, which is also over-grown with ivy and other plant life. The area in and around her home is alive with her energy and once you enter, you have no doubt that she’s present. On a recent tour, one of the participants was able to photograph some spirit orbs that we believe to be Biddy herself. It’s important to leave offerings inside her home upon an Altar that looks to have been there for quite some time. Offerings of whiskey, coins, jewelry, etc, are most welcome. Visiting this site will sway any non-believer that Biddy and her legend still lives on.
The Legend of Biddy Early
Biddy Early was the most famous Witch of Ireland who married her first husband at 20 and her last husband at near 80. Some sources say she married and outlived 6 husbands, some say 4. Of this no one can be sure, but it’s fairly certain that she had at least 3 husbands. There are many different legends about her and her magical powers. She was born Bridget O’Connor in North Clare in 1798. One of the legends says that when Biddy was a young girl she was babysitting a neighbor’s child when the Fairies came, took away the human baby and left a “changeling” in its place. The Fairy child grew to be very fond of Biddy so he gave her a magic “blue bottle”, which gave her the power to see into the future and to cure all sorts of ills. A sip from her bottle was known to cure anything. At sixteen, she was sent to Feakle (Eastern County Clare) to work as a servant girl and later to Kilbarron to work for a doctor Dunne. It was in Kilbarron that she married Pat O’Malley, a widower, and the couple had one child, a son. Her husband Pat was to die after a few short years of marriage. On her husband’s death, she married her stepson John O’Malley. John died in 1840 and she married her third husband, Tom Flannery of Finley.
Another legend about how Biddy obtained this magical blue bottle was from her son. Her son Paddy died as a young man, but being worried about how his poor widowed mother would survive after his death, Paddy returned from the dead, to give her this magical “Blue Bottle”. He told her: “Take this mother and it will make a living for you”, and this bottle did indeed make her a living. People from all over the country were to seek Biddy’s predictions for the future which were said to be amazingly accurate down to the last detail. It was also said that if a weary traveler was coming many miles to meet Biddy, she would see him coming in the bottle and meet him half way. Biddy was also visited for her great healing potions which it was said healed most ailments. Biddy had a well at the side of her house, the water from which possessed the most magical powers, and if given with her consent could cure a person of any affliction. Animals were of enormous importance, the death of a cow or pig could mean failure to pay rent and the death of a working horse could mean destitution. In this time of no veterinarians, Biddy was relied upon to cure the most serious of animal ailments of which it was said she could cure very effectively with a drop of water from her well, or one of her potions. Biddy, not being a selfish woman, did not make a great fortune from her powers, she only accepted a jug of poiteen (Irish moonshine), or perhaps some food for her services but never money.
Another great power which Biddy is accredited with is her ability to talk to and cure the wrath of the Fairies. People used to come to her who had been bewitched by the “little people”. One man had his entire herd of cattle cursed by the fairies and they all became violently ill. On the advice of one of his friends he went to see Biddy. After looking into her bottle, she saw the problem. He had planted a whitethorn bush along a fairy path in his field. She instructed him to go home and remove the bush. As soon as he had done this, his entire herd immediately returned to full health.
There are many stories of the opposition of the clergy, and in 1865 Biddy was charged with witchcraft in Ennis under the 1586 statute. The case was dismissed ‘due to lack of sufficient evidence against the accused’; those who were to give evidence remained strangely silent! Her husband Tom died in 1868 but Biddy, now over seventy, ‘looked only about fifty or less’ and married her fourth husband, Thomas Meaney. He got sick and died within the year in 1870. She slowly deteriorated, and died in April 1874 at the age of 76 in Feakle with her bottle wrapped in its red shawl beside her. But while she lay dying she was persuaded to make her peace with the church. A Priest from Inagh came to give Biddy her last Rites. Just before she passed away she gave the bottle to the Priest. He then flung the bottle into a nearby lake. Her magical bottle was never seen after her death and it has been said that she only had a loan of the bottle from the Fairies who took it back upon her death. (Photo courtesy of Megan Flannigan).