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Holy Wells | Abbey

Holy Wells

Danaher's "Holy Wells of County Limerick" mentions three Holy Wells in the parish. Only one well remains, however, Toberbreedia at Ballintobber. The only trace of this well is a hole in the ground. The well was usually visited on February 1st but rounds were rarely made. The well is locally called Chincough Well and was said to cure whooping cough in children. Patients seeking cures could drink water taken from the well, or could go to the well and drink there. Moss was sometimes taken from the well and boiled in milk. The patient would drink the milk in order to be cured.

There are two legends surrounding the well. It is said that a fowler washed his dog in the well and caused it to move. One of the most interesting legends about any of the wells in the diocese occurs at Ballintobber. A phantom bull is supposed to guard a treasure buried at the well. What this treasure is or whether anyone has ever looked for it, we do not know.

The locations of the other two wells in the parish are now unknown. In the old parish of Kilflyn, there was a well in the townland of Ballydonohoe called Toberpatrick. This well was in a small grove of trees but devotions have long since ceased at this site.

In the townland of Darraghmore there was a well called Tobar Mo-chua. This well was enclosed in rough stone work in a grove of beech trees on the hillside. A pattern was held at the well on August 31st, St. Mochua's feastday, until around 1820. Westropp, however, claims that the feastday is on August 3rd.

The water from this well was said to cure many illnesses. According to legend, when clothes were washed in the well, it moved 400 yards from its original location near the churchyard in Darragh to its present location. Those who were to be cured were said to see a trout in the well. A man once caught the trout thinking it was an ordinary fish and then attempted to cook it but failed in his efforts. He returned the trout to the well.


The ruins at Abbey graveyard
© The ruins at Abbey graveyard

The Abbey is situated in the townland of the same name. It is believed that a monastery was founded here in the 7th or 8th century. By the 14th century the Dominican order had established a house here. It was suppressed during the Reformation. The last prior was Donough O'Dorgan in 1558. Over the years the Abbey became a centre of devotion and people used to travel from miles around to come to mass at the Abbey.

The ruin of the abbey still stands but there were probably more buildings at the time when the abbey was abandoned. Paths have now been laid throughout the graveyard. A pathway has also been laid from the road, which enables people to walk into the ruin.

Holy Wells | Abbey

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