Blessed Well, Tobar Beannaithe, Sheep’s Head

Gooladoo This well is in such a wild and remote spot. Walking down from the Goat’s Path through boggy pasture, a ridged path is discernible, flagged by large stones. This takes you down through fields towards a green plateau. The landscape first has to be admired for it is breath-taking. The plateau is in fact part of an ancient promontory fort, its ramparts long since eroded, but what an incredible position towering above mighty cliffs (yes, look down below you) with huge views up and down Bantry Bay and across to the Beara. Impossible to access from the north, a small neck of land meant the fort was also well defended from the south.

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The remains of the promontory fort

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Huge cliffs below the fort

Turn inwards and the whole scene changes and there is the well, snugly fitting into the hillside, now roped off to protect it from the cattle and horses that sometime occupy the field.

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The well is a small stone box above which are three tiers made from stone slabs, topped off with a more recent concrete niche containing a statue. The tiers are carefully made and attractive. A smattering of rather forlorn tokens – plastic flower, rusty coins, a smashed yellow vase – bear witness to occasional visitors.

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Once it was much revered though and according to Evelyn Hardy in her book Summer in Another World, written during the late 1940s, young girls would visit the well to pray for future marriages. Did they sip the water too? Did the water have other healing qualities? This I must find out. The water is still plentiful, cold and fresh with a sprinkling of bright green duckweed.

It is a remarkable place – still another world.

Edit: Since the publication online of the Schools’ Folklore Collection at duchas.ie more  information about individual wells has become available. This entry from Gooladoo National School throws a little more light on this well.

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Interestingly it is in Gaelige and has kindly been translated for me as:

Blessed/Holy Well.

There is a well in the farm of Henry Lynch next to the sea. There is nothing big/much around it, except a raised area/platform (ardán) above it and flagstones in front of it. There are no tours/pilgrimages (turasanna) there, but some people come there to get cures for rheumatic ailments. There is no name on the well, or certainty that it is a holy/blessed well. One of the Lynch men, the grandfather of Henry Lynch, the man who owns the well now, had a dream, that the well had the power to cure pains in bones, toothache, rheumatics etc.It was said that people were cured there.  Gooladoo National School, informant Mrs Brigid Lynch (0285:269)

Special thanks to Finola Finlay and Michael Plaice for their translations.

The location for Gooladoo well can be found in the Gazetteer.

5 thoughts on “Blessed Well, Tobar Beannaithe, Sheep’s Head

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