The name Witch comes from the Celtic word Wicca meaning wise one. Biddy Early was born on Faha Ridge to a poor irish farming couple John & Ellen Connors, she was baptized as Bridget Ellen Connors, but she became known by her mothers maiden name of Early, Biddy's mother Ellen taught her many herbal recipes and cures as she was also known as a wise woman and her gifts she passed onto Biddy
As a child Biddy spent most of her time alone and was said to talk to the faeries, she could not read or write,but this was common for the poor classes & country people of that period in time, coming from the country Biddy spoke Gaelic, she was also known to speak Shelta, the language of ancient mystics and Irish travellers, this is a secret language with no written code.
When Biddy was 16 years old, her mother died of malnutrition, leaving Biddy in charge of the household. Just six months after her mother's death, Biddy's father died of typhus and as biddy had no means to pay the rent she had to leave their home, homeless she wandered the county roads, working where she could along the way and experimenting with herbal cures. she had a period of living in a poor house, finally she met and married Pat Malley who was twice her age, but I suppose biddy felt the need to be looked after, and they had a son whom they called Paddy. They lived in a three room cottage in Feakle, and once settled Biddy began to earn a reputation for her cures, as local peasants couldn't afford to pay for a doctor they would turn to Biddy for help, she never requested money for her services, but allowed her clients to decide how to compensate her. Whiskey and poitin were common trade items in those days, so her house was frequently stocked with an abundance of alcohol and eventually became known as a place where people could also go to drink and play cards.
Biddy’s cures are the main reason she became well-known, but she was also an independent and stong willed woman, life had thrown hard circumstances at her, she had survived the poor house, the famine, and outlived four husbands, but she triumped against all odds and had the courage to stand up against priest and landlords.
The Catholic church did not approve of Biddy’s activities, but none the less she encouraged people to listen to the priests. In contrast, the priests openly disapproved of Biddy and discouraged people from visiting her. They mistrusted the herbal medicine folklore and mystism that surrounded her. Biddy acquired a bottle that became as famous as she was. She would frequently look into the bottle, which contained some sort of dark liquid, when considering possible cures for her visitors. She took the bottle everywhere, and it was even with her when she died.
In 1865 Biddy was accused of witchcraft by a local priest and was brought before a court in Ennis. The few who agreed to testify against her later backed out, and she was released due to lack of sufficient evidence. Although most of the peasant population supported her, Biddy died in poverty in April 1874, with her rosary round her kneck and her magic bottle in her hand, she was buried in Feakle Graveyard in County Clare, at her request her magic bottle was thrown into the lake, and at her funeral the local priest remarked:
"We thought we had a demon amongst us in poor Biddy Early, but we had a saint, and we did not know it".