Clare Champion 3 Aug 1933
A fine monument to the late Cornelius O'Brien stands at the foot of the Cliffs, by the well of St. Brigid, and in the graveyard adjoining is a mausoleum containing the coffins of the O'Brien family. Nearby is Birchfield (now in ruins), the former seat of the O'Briens.
Birchfield was originally the home of the MacDonagh family, the last owner being Nicholas MacDonagh, brother of Captain Anthony MacDonagh, who distinguished himself at the battle of Fontenoy - under Lord Clare - by defeating in single-handed combat, in presence of the opposing armies, a British officer who had challenged the best officer his opponents could produce.
Nicholas MacDonagh, was married to Joan, sister of Brigadier O'Connell and widow of Edmund Hogan, of Cragmoher; their being no issue of the marriage he left the estate to his step-daughter - Catherine Hogan, who became, by her marriage to a Mr. O'Brien, the mother of Henry O'Brien, of Birchfield - father of Cornelius O'Brien, M.P. for Clare, 1833-1852, who had seven children, but all died without issue. The above Nicholas MacDonagh is buried in the ancient church of Kilmacreehy, near Liscannor, and the following quaint inscription (now difficult to decipher) appears on his tomb:-
"Here rested Nick whose name no age can blot; the ch'ef MacDonogh of old Habers lot, who while on earth revived ye ancient fame of his own line, and yet of all ye name; his first religion was his actions guide, and so he lived beloved, lamented died; erected in the year of Our Lord God, 1745.
Incidently it is interesting to note that after many changes in ownership, since 1745, Birchfield has again reverted to the MacDonagh family - the present owner being Mr. Anthony MacDonagh, of Ballyvislane, in the neighbourhood.
Courtesy of Declan Barron