Bullán Phádraig, Saint Patrick's Well, Poulnalour

Bullán Phádraig, Saint Patrick's Well, Poulnalour
Tony Kirby

Townland: Poulnalour

Poulnalour, from the Irish ‘Poll Na Lobhar’ meaning Leper’s Pool or Hole.
P.W. Joyce wrote in 1875: ‘Probably so called from a pool supposed to possess some virtue in curing lepers who washed themselves in it’.
The excerpt above is taken from Averil Swinfen’s book, ‘Forgotten Stones’. This book also notes: ‘An ancient lazar house may have existed in the area….could the so-called St Patrick’s Well be the Leper Pool or Hole’.

Description of Holy Well and Landscape Setting

This holy well is located in a limestone cliff face in a small woodland near the Glenquin Valley. It sits within a crescent-shaped boundary drystone wall. There are thick layers of shale in the limestone at the well site, which makes it difficult for the groundwater underneath to make its way to the surface. Some of the underground water flows sideways instead, and emerges at seepages and springs such as those at the well site. The water collects in a little pool and this forms the well.
Less that one kilometre south-west of the well site are the the ruins of a small oratory and detached priest’s house. These are the remains of the monastic site of Templepatrick. There is also a rare holed stone and a cillín at this site.

Saint and Feast Day Associated with Holy Well

Bullán Phádraig translates as ‘Saint Patrick’s Hollowed Stone’.
There is no feast day or ritual at the well remembered in the locality. However, records from the 1930s in the National Folklore Collection make reference to the site:
This well had stones around it. Some of the stones were taken for a house and it is said that part of the house never dried. St Patrick left his crozier on a stone and the print of it is there yet on the flag
There is no local knowledge of the print on the stone today. This print would have been the subject of folk belief and ritual.
Other records in the collection state:
Well cured sore eyes and warts. It is in the middle of a mound of stones and an ash tree growing beside it. Lucas the Protestant landowner had employed men from the neighbourhood to cut trees. Lucas asked them why they did not cut the tree growing over the well. They replied that it was a blessed tree. He ridiculed them for their “superstition” and took an axe himself. In doing so he missed his object and hit his shin bone and broke it.
There is no local knowledge of the fate or whereabouts of this ash tree today.

At the time of the research visit there were many old coins at the site which had been left as offerings, as well as an old mug, probably used to collect the waters of the well.

Natural Heritage around the Holy Well

The holy well is located in small woodland of hazel and ash. The hazel forms the underlying layer of vegetation, with the ash canopy above. The moist, humid woodland is home to a rich and varied mix of primitive plants.
This woodland was most likely a mosaic of limestone pavement and thin soil decades ago. With the decline of marginal farming, woodland has been established.

Heritage Attractions Nearby

The Burren National Park access point, Gortlecka Crossroads, is about two kilometres south of holy well site.

Discover More…

National Folklore Collection, Schools Collection, 1930s

National Folklore Collection, Schools Collection, 1930s (2)

P.W Joyce, Irish Names of Places, Ask About Ireland

Record of Monuments and Places Number

RMP CL010-105

Special Area of Conservation


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