The Witch’s Well, Tobar an gChailleach, Clondrina

Possible site of The Witch’s Well, Clondrina
Michael Houlihan

Townland: Clondrina, Cranny, Kilfiddane

Description of Holy Well and Landscape Setting

The name of this well probably comes from the Irish ‘Tobar an gChailleach’, meaning the ‘Well of the Veiled/Hooded One’. This name may also refer to a nun.
The space where the well is believed to be located is surrounded by a stone wall, creating a rectangular space of about 70 x 20 metres. Within this space are two tall and healthy ash trees, a scattered cillín or burial ground, and perhaps the unidentified holy well. If the well is in this location, it is most likely beneath the first ash tree where there are a number of stones in a pile, topped by a flagstone. At the time of the research visit, the weather had been extremely dry and there was no sign of water. An iron gate secures the site and a recently constructed grotto contains a large size statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary, together with some offerings.

Saint and Feast Day Associated with Holy Well

There is no evidence of a spring here, though many people locally speak of the ‘Witch’s Well’. None of the older maps show a well at this site. The presence of holy wells and cillíní in the same space is very common across County Clare. However, it does not seem to be the case here as there is no sign of a spring or well. This site was championed for many years by local man called Mr. Corry. Evidence of his work and devotion to the site and as well as that of his neighbours is visible here. The site is tidy and the grass is trimmed suggesting a certain amount of attention is given to the site. There had been annual mass at the site until recent years.

Natural Heritage around the Holy Well

The site is carpeted with broken flagstones of different sizes which may have been markers for infant graves associated with the cillín. There is no sequence to the placement of the stones. Two tall and strong ash trees in full leaf are present, suggesting that there is a water source at the site.

Heritage Attractions Nearby

The Shannon Estuary lies a few miles to the south of the site. To the west is the Wild Atlantic Way, with Kilrush  Town and the monastic Scattery Island. Baile na Caillighe or Ballynacally Village lies a few miles to the east of the well site on the coast road.

Record of Monuments and Places Number

RMP- CL059-017 (Clondrina Cillín)


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