Saint Colman's Well, Tobar Cholmán Bháire, Tobar Colman Baur, Glensleade

Site of Saint Colman's Well, Tobar Cholmán Bháire, Tobar Colman Baur, Glensleade
Tony Kirby

Townland: Glensleade

Glensleade, from the Irish ‘Gleann An Slaoda’, translated as ‘The Layered Valley’.
Two townlands bordering Glensleade to the west are called Baur North and Baur South.

Description of Holy Well and Landscape Setting

This holy well could not be located. It was originally situated on limestone pavement which has become overgrown with scrub. The cult of Saint Colmán Bháire extends beyond the well. Not far from the well site is an ancient church known as Kilcomanvara or ‘Cill Cholmán Bháire’ and the 10th century ruins of Kilcorney Church are also close by.

A ringfort named after Colmán, ‘Lios Cholmáin Báire’, is located 1.5 kilometres south-west of the well in the townland of Poulnaskagh. Records in the Ordnance Survey Letters, 1839 suggest that the ringfort is so-called because of a local belief that Saint Colmán lived there.

Saint and Feast Day Associated with Holy Well

‘Colmán Bháire’ is believed to be a version of Colmán Mac Duagh. Sinéad Ní Gabhláin writes: ‘Colmán Bháire..also called Colmán Mac Duagh‘.
The well is believed to hold a cure for eye ailments.
It is not clear when the pattern date was celebrated at this holy well. The holy wells dedicated to Saint Colmán Mac Duagh tend to have very different pattern days. At Tobar Mogua, Noughaval, the pattern date is 10th February. At Tobar Mac Duagh, Keelhilla, a Lughnasa site, the pattern day was celebrated in August. Today, the official diocesan pattern date at Tobar Mac Duagh is October.

National Folklore Collection, Schools’ Collection, 1930s:
‘People go to Glensleade three days – two Thursdays and a Monday. When they go to the well, they say prayers. There is a cure in the water for the eyes. They rub their eyes with the water and they bring home some with them.

People leave things like holy pictures, pennies and candle pieces at the well. There is a tall tree growing over the well’
– Translated from the Irish by Tony Kirby.

Heritage Attractions Nearby

Poulnabrone portal tomb is about 3 kilometres south of the well along the R480. Ballyvaughan Village is about 5 kilometres north of the well along the same road.

Discover More…

Clare County Library

Ordnance Survey Letters, Royal Irish Academy

Ordnance Survey Letters, Ask About Ireland

Ní Gabhláin, S 1995, ‘Church, Parish and Polity: The Medieval Diocese of Kilfenora’, Dissertation in partial satisfaction for the degree Doctor of Philosophy in Archaeology.  University of California, pp. 488-490.

Record of Monuments and Places Number

RMP CL005-127—

Special Area of Conservation



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