Toberbrassil, Tobar Breasail, Cahercalla
Townland: Cahercalla, Quin
Description of Holy Well and Landscape Setting
This well is one of three listed in close proximity to each other in this townland. The other wells are Tobernaghtan and Toberlanniv. The well lies on the north-east side of the Cahercalla Road, about half a kilometer from Corbally Cross. There is a stile leading to the field. The well lies approximately 150 metres in from the road.The well is old and rustic, with a few stone steps leading to the water. A dry stone moss-covered wall protects it. Nettles and briars are beginning to take over the well area. A very old blackthorn stands by the well. Close by is a pool of water from the well run-off.
Saint and Feast Day Associated with Holy Well
The well is known to the landowner as a holy well. The name given to the well, Toberbrassil, hints at the saint it is associated with. According to Professor Padraig Ó Riain, author of ‘A Dictionary of Irish Saints’, the early name of the fifth century Saint Breackan was ‘Breasail’. If the well is associated with Saint Breackan, it would suggest that it has been in use for a very long time.
Saint Breasail’s/Breackan’s feast day is 29th April. Thanks to the landowner, the well is in good condition, but there is no tradition of visitation in recent years
Natural Heritage around the Holy Well
The field where the well is located is made up of heavy soil, with some rushes present and water accumulating near the well. There are many blackthorn bushes spread across the space, with a few taller ash trees in towards the hedges.
Heritage Attractions Nearby
The well stands in a very old landscape. A few hundred metres to the south-east of the well is the high status triple-ringed Cahercalla Ringfort, home to the McNamaras, a subdivision or sept of the Dalcassian O’ Brien clan. To the north-east lies Magh Adhair, which served as the inauguration mound of the Thomond Kings for hundreds of years. A single standing stone in the holy well field marks the route of the ceremonial avenue from Cahercall to Magh Adair. It was used on inauguration days and other ceremonial occasions.
Fitzpatrick, E 2004, Royal Inauguration in Gaelic Ireland C. 1100-1600: A Cultural Landscape Study, by Elizabeth FitzPatrick, Boydell Press, 2004
The publication above may be of interest to those who want to know more about the cultural landscape around the holy well
Record of Monuments and Places Number
Surveyed by Michael Houlihan