Tobargahard Holy Well, Gragan East
Townland: Gragan East
Description of Holy Well and Landscape Setting
This holy well is located off the R480 road. It is contained within a well house which is a few metres long and is aligned in the Gragan Valley direction. The site of the well is on limestone pavement which has lately been taken over by hazel scrub. The well is partly obscured by this vegetation. At the time of the research visit there was a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary and a plastic cup filled with coins at the holy well. Rosary beads in laminated plastic case were hanging from branch of hazel tree over the site and there were sensor controlled lights installed at the side of the well house.
Below the well to the east is Gragan Valley. The well probably drew devotees from this valley in the past.
Saint and Feast Day Associated with Holy Well
The well’s original name is ‘Tobar go hArd’ which translates as ‘Well on High’. This is a secular name, and there is no specific saint associated with the holy well today. There may have been communal worship at the well on a particular day in the past but no record of this survives.
National Folklore Collection, Schools’ Collection, Volume 0616, Page 024:
‘A lot of people go there. They apply the water to their eyes….When people go there, they leave a lot of things there and they take water home and drink it’
(Translated from the Irish by Toby Kirby )
Walter and Mary Brenneman recount in Crossing the Circle at the Holy Wells of Ireland, 1995 that: ‘Statue, coins and cup attest to its continuing healing efficacy’
Natural Heritage around the Holy Well
Moist hazel scrub grows around the holy well as well as plants including mosses, lichens and ferns. Immediately west of the scrub there is limestone pavement with Burren speciality flora. Further west again is Gragan Valley. East of the site at the other side of the R480 is limestone pavement rising as far as the summit of Ailwee Hill.
Heritage Attractions Nearby
The site is about 1 kilometre due south of Cathair Mhór (Cahermore) Ring Fort and 6 kilometres north east of Poulnabrone Portal Tomb which is visited by 200,000 people each year. Both sites are managed by the Office of Public Works. Ballyvaughan Village is 6 kilometres north of the holy well along the R480.
Brennerman, W.L and Brennerman, M 1995, Crossing the Circle at the Holy Wells of Ireland, University Press of Virginia, Virginia
Record of Monuments and Places Number
Special Area of Conservation