Wednesday 29 May 2024

St. Patrick's Well Blessington Co Wicklow


                                        Above Image: Direction sign at the lane

                                          Above Image: The lane way to the well

                    Above Image & Below Image: The entrance gate & Steps downward

                                              Above & Below Image: The well

This holy well is one of those I have come across on trips around the country and now and then I like to record them as they can bring focus to local history and of those who availed of them over the centuries.
Immediately of note is the name given to this particular well hidden off the main road in Blessington  Whether St. Patrick visited here is long lost in time but the naming of the well must have at least some significance. It is not too far from Burgage which itself has a lot of history attached. 

Originally situated in meadowland the well was over the years visited by people in search of hope and perhaps healing from its water. By the nineteenth century it had been upgraded and from 1825 provided a supply of water to the town for a good number of years. The townland is known as Millbank and a corn mill had once stood nearby but with the coming of the reservoir and dam at Poulaphuca it was submerged by the waters and the road leading to it closed off by a barrier.

The well became overgrown with some rough steps and a dangerous wall until in 2004 a joint operation between some like-minded locals led by Aidan Cruise and the Electricity Supply Board resulted in the restoration of the well, the steps and brand new supporting walls. It was finally made accessible to all but still remains hidden off the main road. A quick study of some local mapping led us to the old lane and the metal entrance gate. There is a commerorative sign on the wall outside and a set of steps down to the alcove in which the well lies. It is a quiet and reflective spot here and not too far from the lake. I am led to believe that it was the victim of some vandalism a while back some time after our visit and it also appears the access lane is on the cards for some upgrading by the Council. So I would be interested to know if it is still currently accessible.

To find the well take the N81 West from Tallaght towards Blessington (approx 12 miles). Drive through the Town until you have passed the tower of St. Mary's church on your left then take the next left hand turn onto Kilbride Road. Drive approx 150 metres until you see a sign on your right pointing to the well. The road splits here on the right with the old abandoned lane sloping downwards and the well entrance on the right hand side. We parked on the road just above the lane entrance.

Wednesday 8 May 2024

O'Connell's Rock Co Dublin


                          Above Image: The site of the rock (In greenery on the right)

                                                   Above Image: The inscription.







                                          Above Image: Ruins of Carhan House

                                        Above Image: Memorial bust of O'Connell

West of Glencullen nestled amongst the vegetation at the foot of a forest on a road skirting the Glendhu Valley is a large misshapen boulder known as O'Connells's Rock. The rock bears an inscription including the date "23rd July 1823" and commemorates the spot where Daniel O'Connell the great Liberator made an early speech to the local community while on a visit to his daughter who was married to a local landowner. A large group of people it seems were celebrating Garland Sunday (in anticipation of harvest time) and so O'Connell seized the moment and climbed up upon the huge rock and spoke to the crowd of his oncoming crusade for the liberation of Catholics and a repeal to the 1801 act of union.
O'Connell was born in 1775 just outside Cahersiveen in County Kerry and while there last summer we visited the memorial garden and saw the ruins of his birthplace (Carhan house, built 1770)
On his personal crusade he organised what would be known popularly as "Monster meetings" with one of the largest taking place at the Hill of Tara in County Meath with an incredible three quarters of a million attendees. Borne out of his repeal movement emancipation was achieved in 1829 but he unfortunately died in Genoa in 1843 with the act of union still in place and an Irish parliament for Irish people unachieved.
O'Connell's rock is easily accessible and was unknown to me until recently. A 15 minute drive from my home brought me to this mostly overlooked historical site and I was glad I sought it out. There are many hiking trails around this area and many thousands of people must have stopped on their way to have a look. In exploring this area over the years I must have driven by several times and not considered it any different from many other rocks strewn around what was once a glacial valley. There are probably many more interesting sites I have yet to discover in this particular area. And I look forward to doing so.
To find O'Connell's Rock follow this route. The easiest direction is from the crossroads at Johnnie Fox's pub in Glencullen heading West on the Ballybrack Road (R116). Drive a little over 4KM until you see a field gate entrance to a driveway on your left with a sign stating Glendhu Farm. The rock is directly opposite this gate a couple of metres back from the roadside. There is really no safe place to park on this road except at the farm entrance gate but it can't be blocked either so be prepared to move quickly. We had enough time to examine the rock but as we were leaving a land river pulled up to enter the gate so bear that in mind.

GPS:   53°13'58.7"N 6°16'35.0"W