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Cornelius O'Brien of Birchfield (1782 - 1857) by Henry Comber


One tourist brochure names Sir Lucius O’Brien as the father of Cornelius, another attributes his paternity to Sir Turlough. However, in spite of this convenient but confusing pedigree, he did not belong to the Inchiquin family.
His parentage is not very obscure. A memorial to be apprenticed to Cornelius O’Callaghan, attorney of the Courts of Chancery and Common Please and Exchequer states:-

“Cornelius O’Brien was the third son of Henry O’Brien, late of the town of Ennis in the County of Clare, Esq., deceased and Helen O’Brien, otherwise O’Callaghan. He is aged at least 16 years. He was educated in the school of Stephen O’Halloran in the town of Ennis in the county of Clare and was reading Virgil when he left same.”

A separate petition dated 12 November, 1802 states that “he studied Grammar, Corderius, Ovid and part of Virgil.”

An entry in the Who’s Who of British M.P.s reads:-

“4 North St., Westminster, London; 20 Summerhill, Dublin; Birchfield, Ennistymon.
Son of Henry O’Brien, Esq. of Birchfield, Co. Clare by Helen, daughter of Donough O’Callaghan, Esq. of Kilgorey, Co. Clare. Born at Birchfield 1782. Married 1816, Margaret, daughter of Peter Long of Waterford and relict of James O’Brien of Limerick. A solicitor in Ireland from 1811, a magistrate for Clare, a Liberal in favour of the Repeal of the Union with Ireland, tenants rights and vote by ballot. Sat for Clare from 1832 to 1847 when he was an unsuccessful candidate. Regained seat July 1852. Retired 1857. Died 1857.”

It appears that Henry O’Brien was the son of Kate McDonough, daughter of Nicholas of Birchfield by her marriage with an O’Brien of Toonagh.
Concerning Edward, born 1779, eldest son and heir of Henry O’Brien, the Biographical Succession List of Glendalough Diocese by Canon B. Leslie, D. Lit. (copyright Representative Church Body) states:-

Son of Henry O’Brien, gen., born in Co. Clare; educated by Rev. M. Fitzgerald; entered Trinity College as Sizar June 5, 1798 aged 19. Scholar 1805, B.A. 1806. He was curate of Hollywood (Glendalough diocese) c.1825.

A daughter, Mary, married John Lysaght of Ballyvorda. They had two sons, Andrew and Henry. Their daughter, Mary, married Michael Finucane of Ballymacooda House, Ennis.

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O'Brien Coat of Arms
O'Brien Coat of Arms