Was Biddy Early a Witch or a Fairy?
Biddy Early Wise Woman or Witch? finally broadcast on RTÉ television.
The programme ‘Biddy Early Wise Woman or Witch?’ made by Eamon O’Connor had been scheduled for broadcast on New Year’s Day. A sudden strike at RTÉ meant it had to be postponed. According to the RTÉ Guide, many people in the Clare and Limerick area wondered if it was Biddy Early herself who had sabotaged the broadcast.
A well known clairvoyant and healer from County Clare during the nineteenth century Biddy Early is said to have cured people and animals from all over the country, including those cursed by the fairies. She was tried for witchcraft in 1865, but witnesses were reluctant to testify against her.
According to one man interviewed about her legacy,
The priest would curse you if you went near Biddy.
Sheila O’Doherty plays Biddy Early in this extract from the opening of the film, which explores some of the myths and stories about her. Seanchaís gather for a céilí in Early’s rebuilt cottage outside the village of Feakle in Clare on May Night 30 April, the Celtic festival of Bealtaine, traditionally the night of the fairies.
‘Biddy Early: Wise Woman or Witch?’ was broadcast on 8 February 1975.
Bridget Ellen “Biddy” Early (née O’Connor or Connors; 1798 – 1872) was a traditional Irish herbalist and bean-feasa (“seer, wisewoman”) who helped her neighbours. When she acted against the wishes of the local tenant farmer landlords and Catholic priests she was falsely accused of witchcraft.