Tobar na Gcoban, Hoarty’s Well, Gortaveha
Description of Holy Well and Landscape Setting
This holy well is located in the bottom of a small steep-sided valley on the edge of some deciduous woodland. It lies in a grazing field and there is a mown path leading to the well. There is a nicely built and relatively modern arched stone well house under a large holly tree. This well house was built by a local mason from Flagmount. It has two separate basins and it would seem that one of the basins is for cures and the other is for drinking. The area around the holy well is fairly boggy, but drier paths have been cut around some of the larger trees nearby for carrying out the rounds at the well. This site is also called Hoarty’s Well, after previous landowners.
One entry in the National Folklore Collection, Schools’ Collection, records that a saint travelling from Limerick to Galway lay down to rest at this well and when a local person came to draw water, the saint blessed it for them. Another entry tells the story of the water being used to boil potatoes – when the water wouldn’t boil they realised that it was holy.
Saint and Feast Day Associated with Holy Well
The dedication at this holy well is unknown, but the well is said to hold a cure for eye ailments and headaches.
There are two pattern days associated with the holy well, 15th August and also 8th September.
To carry out the rounds at the well, pilgrims would walk around three mounds of stone, reciting prayers and saying the Rosary. Michael McAllen was caretaker of the well and in later years provided bottles of holy water to pilgrims. Offerings at the well were numerous at the time of the research visit. These included three sets of Rosary beads, six medallions, a number of rags tied to branches on the holly tree, a laminated prayer tag and two intact statues. A mug and a chair were also present at the well and the site is well maintained.
Natural Heritage around the Holy Well
The well lies in a small steep-sided valley running north-east to south-west. It is surrounded by grazing fields with natural mixed hedgerow boundaries. The well is on the edge of a stand of large, mainly deciduous trees and is shaded by a large holly tree.
The holy well is listed on the 1842 Ordnance Survey Map
Noonan, J 1990, ‘Blessed Wells around Lough Graney’, Sliabh Aughty Journal, vol 1. pp 6-7
Record of Monuments and Places Number
RMP – CL012-002