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Barrigone Well
© Barrigone Well

There are two Holy Wells in the parish where tradition and devotions are continued. In the Robertstown part of the parish, Barrigone Well is situated in the townland of Craggs. This well is located beside an inlet of the Shannon River and seaweed can be seen around it. The well is enclosed. The Parish council laid down a concrete walkway in the 1960s. A covered altar has been built beside the well. There is a plaque in memory of Noel O'Shaughnessy, who was from Barrigone, on the wall of the altar shelter.

Covered Altar at Barrigone
© Covered Altar at Barrigone

The feastday of the well is the 15th of August. In the past, a large pattern was held on the 14th and 15th of August. Danaher tells us that bonfires lit up the night-time sky and the celebrations continued throughout the night. Other days of devotion at the well were the Saturday before the 1st of May and the 24th of June.

It is claimed that the well can cure many illnesses. Rags were been left at the well as offerings. It is believed that the well takes its name from the holy monk St Muirdebhair the wise, whose feastday is on the 3rd of November (although Maureen Jackson claims it is the 3rd of September). St Muirdebhair baptised new Christians at the well. With the passing of time, the pronunciation changed, the "M" became a "B" and thus the well was called Barrigone.

Interior of Barrigane Well
© Interior of Barrigone Well

The legends about the well are many and varied. The water would not boil, the well moved when cursed and if your wish were to be granted, you would see a trout in the well. Another legend tells that the well spoke to a woman who was about to wash clothes in the well. A blind horse was brought to the well to be cured. The horse was cured but the owner became blind.

The most interesting legend about the well concerned a girl who was going to America. Before she left for America, the girl took some pebbles from the well. During the journey across the Atlantic, a fierce storm occurred and the girl threw the pebbles into the sea. The storm abated and the pebbles returned to the well.

Many old people believe that immersion in the spring could avert imminent death. The prayers that are said while doing a round of the well are Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be. Old people would pick up seven pebbles and drop one every time they completed a round at the well.

Statue of St. Patrick
© Statue of St. Patrick

St Patrick's Well is situated on Knockpatrick hill. It is close to the foot of the hill, to the left of the road. A statue of St Patrick has been erected at the site and there are paths leading to the well from the road. Rounds, consisting of seven decades of the Rosary, are still made at the well. According to Danaher, rags were left as offerings on whitethorn trees by the well. Today, two evergreen trees grow by the well.

There are a number of legends concerning the well. The water from the well could cure sore eyes. The well moved when cursed. A druid tried to poison St Patrick here. St Patrick once put a curse on sinners but this was later transferred to birds and a dead bird can sometimes be found at the well on certain days of the year.

Danaher also says that St Patrick left a gold cup at the well. This cup or chalice was kept at the well until 1785 when a member of the O'Niadh (Neville) family, the stewards of the site of Knockpatrick, pledged it to a Mr Roche of Limerick. Mr. Roche then brought it to Paris where it was last heard of in 1840.

Danaher also mentioned St Senan's well in Shanagolden at the townland of Shanagolden Demesne. This well was covered in but it is believed that the well was situated where the pumphouse is now located. This pumphouse is across from the community hall.

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