Tobercoolan, Tobar Cuailín, Saint Coolan’s Well, Callahy
Townland: Callahy, Tuamgraney
Description of Holy Well and Landscape Setting
This well sits in a carefully constructed shelter beside a private house on the south side of the R352 road between Bodyke and Tuamgraney. Over the door of the well house is an inscription in stone that reads:
‘This house was (built) over Saint Coolan’s Well by order of John Anthony Bradley Esq. Sept 1803’
Inside the well house there is fresh water in the spring and the interior is excellently maintained. There was no evidence of any votive offerings or recent religious activity at the time of the research visit. To the right of the well house is a heavy cut-granite stone with a basin hollowed out in the centre. This may have been intended for animals.
Natural Heritage around the Holy Well
As the well is in a modified space there is little greenery in the immediate area. However one large ash tree, possibly a companion tree, lies directly behind the well.
Saint and Feast Associated with Holy Well
The well is dedicated to Saint Coolan which may also be read as Saint Coleman or Saint Cualín. The Saint Coleman or Cualín here most likely refers to Saint Colman of Kiltartan. His feast day is 1st November. There is no recent tradition of cures at the holy well.
The inscription at the well indicates that John Bradley built the well house in the early 1800s for the convenience of his neighbours, whether living locally or passing on the road. A report from the 1830’s stated that ‘The well is used by the families around the place. In the driest summer it has never been known to run dry‘.
Heritage Attractions Nearby
The village of Tuamgraney is approximately 10 minutes from the holy well where the 10th century Saint Cronan’s Church can be found. This is the oldest extant church in the country still holding religious services. Across the road from the church in Raheen wood is the ‘Brian Boru Oak’. This tree is over one thousand years old, the last remnant of the once substantial forests of East Clare.
T.J. Westropp, in ‘County Clare Folk-Tales and Myths’ 1910/1913:
‘St. Colaun of Tomgraney, who died at that place on Oct. 24th, 551, of yellow jaundice, gives his name to Tobercolaun, the well-house on the road between his church and Bodyke. Some call him St. Colman’.
Westropp, T.J. 1910/1913 ‘County Clare Folk-Tales and Myths’, Folk Lore: Transactions of the Folklore Society.
Record of Monuments and Places Number
Surveyed by Michael Houlihan