School: Scoil Bhríde, Liosceannúir

Liscannor, Co. Clare
Dónall Ó Seasnáin

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The History of Birchfield

Archival Reference

The Schools’ Collection, Volume 0618, Page 065

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Corney (Cornelius) O'Brien was the holder of considerable property in and around Birchfield. Things went badly with him and he was compelled to mortgage part or all of them to a Dublin solicitor. The name of this solicitor we do not know but whether it was the transaction or the transaction was merely the occasion but he bound Corney to this solicitor, while Corney was serving his time one day he came upon the mortgage papers of Birchfield, he found that Birchfield was entailed and could not be mortgaged. He brought the fact under the notice of his employer's demanded back the mortgage and secured the lands. He never came to Birchfield and began to practise as a solicitor.

In the need for money to farm the lands Corney looked out for a wealthy lady to marry him. He married the widow of O'Brien a very wealthy wine merchant of Limerick. She had already sons and daughters, and one of her sons John was the father of Judge Peter O'Brien, Lord Kilfenora, and popularly known as Peter the Packer. His widow brought Corney O'Brien immense wealth. She was a woman of strong character, and persuaded Corney to set aside out of the means she brought him sufficient to educate one of his sons. This was part of the marriage agreement; the boy died however and the money went to Corney. His wife insisted then that he should provide for the education of another boy. Corney refused, she left him went back to Limerick, and never again returned to Birchfield. Later on Corney married a woman of low-degree, likely a servant by whom he had sons and daughters, and one of these became a Catholic. In fact all of them were baptized, but were brought up Protestants.
Corney himself became a convert and died a Catholic. He beautified and built around St. Brigid's Well, and is buried by it. He did this while yet a Protestant. Some little time afterwards Corney was attending Parliament in London. He suddenly fell sick, he had with him an old valet named Higgins. During his illness he was constantly calling for the water from St. Brigid's Well. He sent Higgins post haste to to Ireland, and took back with him a jar of the water. Corney drank it and was cured. On his return he beautified the surroundings of St. Brigid's Well, as we have it to-day

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