The Mysterious Orgins of Irelands Anicent Wells

This ancient well is a natural spring which was built around and enclosed in various stages. The stones around the well were placed in 1933 and the last section of fencing 20 years later in 1953. It is the earlier history which fascinates people much more.
Like many Holy Wells around Ireland this well was supposedly blessed by St. Patrick. It is also said to be the spot where the Pagan King of Leinster, Crimthann mac Énnai, was baptised. These stories come from hagiographies written hundreds of years after the existence of the historical Patrick and replicate themselves throughout Ireland so many times that it would have been impossible for one person to have christened so many wells.
Most likely, in my own opinion, anyway, the ‘St. Patrick’ in these much later stories is a kind of short-hand for Christianity itself and not a factual account of a person. The memory of Christianity taking over Pagan sites is given a personal association in these contexts over time and generations.
Some of the cures said to have occurred at the well include toothaches, ear aches and sight being restored. There is even an account of a sore leg being healed.
One of the most glaring observances at this well is the lack of ribbons, medals and votive offerings. The well looks very pristine and bare in comparison to many others. This is not a new phenomenon and was remarked upon in documentation going back to the 1930’s and further.
Natural springs have always been associated with magic and cures as well as with spirit deities. As I have mentioned before, women would come to these places in order to divine prophecy, speak with ancestors and make offerings to the spirits associated with the water.
Sometimes these spirits were quite fearsome such as the each-uisge or aughisky, which was a type of water-horse who could shape-shift into a man. It was said that women could capture this fairy spirit and tame it as long as it did not set its eyes on water again. As is usual with this folklore, there are quite a few regional variations.
There are also Irish stories of creatures called a merrow, which are a type of mermaid or mer-man. I don’t know of local stories involving them being this far inland and living in freshwater but it was said that their hypnotic music could travel over fields and mountains and entice anyone who heard it and draw them to the sea.
That said, Thomas Keightley, writing in 1828, mentioned that a merrow would capture sailors in Wicklow and keep them in cages similar to lobster pots. As Carlow isn’t too far away maybe we should be careful about any strange and eerie music that drifts in the air!
One other thing; if you take a step backwards off the stones you will fall into the water and the other part of the spring which is well hidden by growth and reeds! Now who would be so silly as to make that mistake? Ahem!
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