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Holy Wells | The Three Hail Mary Stones

Holy Wells

Toberlaghteen well
© Toberlaghteen well

Danaher records the presence of a well, in the townland of Knocknagranshee, called Toberlaghteen. This well is on the lands of Martin Molony. No devotions have taken place here in a number of years and the well has dried up. Devotions were held on March 19th in the past. The well was enclosed with a wall and roof over it. Danaher states that he found an inscription on the wall that read "This was erected by James Keating in ye year of our Lord 1791 that lived in Grangehill. Pray for him".

This well reputedly cured eye ailments, and rags were hung on the trees as offerings. According to legend the well moved when profaned. The well has been dry since 1955, although a spring sometimes breaks out beside the cupola in a pool. The waters of this well were once so powerful that they were harnessed to work a horizontal mill. The well was partly overgrown when we visited the site. An ash tree overhung the well when Danaher visited the well in 1955. Rags were tied to the tree as an offering.

St Senan's well was a Holy Well beside the church site of Cill Onchon Mór. However, devotions are no longer held here, and the exact location of the well is no longer known.

The Three Hail Mary Stones

The Three Hail Mary Stones
© The Three Hail Mary Stones

Three stones are set side by side in the grass margin by the road, midway between Manister village and Lacka cross, in the townland of Cahirduff. According to legend, they were used as weighing scales by the abbot to show that a simple prayer was more efficacious than a large material gift. The following poem, written by Ned O'Donnell, is taken from a booklet on the Parish of Manister.

Three ancient stones near Manister
An ancient tale can tell,
Of a saintly Parish Priest and a
Saxon infidel;
In racking days in Ireland the
Priest was saying Mass,
When a Cromwellian captain by
His church door happe'd to pass;
No heed paid Father Toomey
When the captain to him spoke,
But the grace of three Hail Marys
On his soul he did invoke.

The Captain much offended by
The inattentive priest,
Sought an explanation after
Ite missa est;
"By rule", said Father Toomey
"I cannot every break
The continuity of may Mass no
Matter what's at stake;
But I offered three Hail Marys to
My Maker for your soul,
They're all powerful and may yet
Your barren heart console".

More angry grew the Captain,
He cursed the priest and prayer,
"But yet, if you can prove their worth,
Your Papish neck I'll spare."
"Oh, Blessed Mary, help me,"
Said the priest within his heart,
"Implore your Son to guide me
And I will do my part".
Then turning to the Captain
Still uttering a curse
He vowed the three Hail Marys
Would weigh him and his horse.
Scales were there erected and
Three Aves on a sheet,
Outweighed the burly soldier
Mounted on his steed.

By the road that leads to Manister
By workmen every year,
Three massive stones embedded
In the margin are kept clear.
Used in the erection of Father Toomey's scales,
They're revered in the parish and known around for miles.
And often in the morning a
Traveller may be seen,
His prayers at home forgotten, kneeling at the scene,
With a Pater and an Ave his
Omission he atones,
While wings are softly beating
'bove the three Hail Mary Stones

Holy Wells | The Three Hail Mary Stones

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