St. Patrick’s Well is one of my favourite local landmarks. The site has been in use for millennia, and it is a wonderfully peaceful and tranquil spot. The well has hagiographic associations with Ireland’s patron saint who is reputed to have passed by here on his journey from Cashel to Lismore. According to information on the Archaeological Survey of Ireland, the well is referenced in the 10th Century Life of St. Declan of Ardmore, showing it is at least over a 1,000 years old.
The crystal-clear waters of the well are reputed to have curative properties for sore lips and eyes, and they are especially renowned for curing headaches. The National Folklore Collection has a number of stories of miracles and cures, including one about a crippled boy who was cured, and other people had their sight restored by the waters. A particularly interesting tale describes how one man mocked two others for praying at the well, and threw one of their dogs into the water. For this disrespectful act he was cursed, he lost the power of speech and could only bark thereafter.
A number of early features can be seen at the site. The early medieval cross is perhaps the most tangible, but the twin flumes may also be of great antiquity – they appear to be reused penstocks from an early medieval mill. The church on the site is likely to have originally been built in around the 12th century as some Romanesque architectural details are evident. The Abbot of Inishlounaght, Nicholas Fagan, was interred here in 1617.
The well and its surroundings have been restored and renovated in the late 1960s, and a series of stations were added around the site for the pattern day. It is still a popular place for people to take the waters and to enjoy a truly peaceful and tranquil setting.
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