Yet again we find another holy well dedicated to St. Brigid, this time just a short distance outside Clondalkin Village in Dublin. In the book “The Holy Wells of Ireland” by Patrick Logan, he lists fifteen wells dedicated to St. Brigid in eleven different counties. The Well at Clondalkin is however not mentioned. It is mentioned on Rocque’s map of 1760 and on subsequent later maps of the area, but is believed to be much older. Local legend states that St. Brigid the 5th century abbess from Kildare would often visit the monastery at Clondalkin and would use the natural spring on what was Boot Road to baptise pagans. The structure around it dates from 1761.
St. Brigid’s well was, at one time was situated on what was known as ‘Brideswell Common’, an abandoned piece of land which travellers passed on their way to Kildare. The ‘Well’ and surrounding lands were owned by William Caldbeck, whom in turn rented it a Mr. Ormsby. The ‘Commons’ area at that time consisted of just two fields with a rough lane dividing them, and the natural spring which the locals named ‘St.Brigid’s Well’, in honour of St. Brigid. Infants that died before they could be baptised were said to be buried in this immediate area as a lease signed by Caldbeck, allowed for burials to take place on the grounds. The Children’s Burial Ground at the well but its exact location is now unknown. It may possibly be located in the raised grassed area to south of well in the vicinity of the upstanding white metal cross but it is locally believed to be located in the open green area to north-west of the well.
The railings surrounding the well were donated by the workers from the local Paper Mills in the 1940s and the statue was given by Mary O’Toole. About this time there were processions to the well on the 1st February each year, the feast day of St. Bridget. Like many others this well is said to have certain healing powers. A piece of rag dipped in the water and used to wipe the face, particularly of young girls, was said to cure eye complaints. After use the rag or clootie would be hung on an adjoining Holy Tree of ash. During the 1990’s, road widening works for the Fonthill Road resulted in the reduction of the area of the well along the east and south sides but the well itself was maintained in its original location. However, the works for the road altered the underlying water source or spring. The well is now covered and a channel replicating the original stream outlet is present in the north. Sadly it is now dry. Also the original tree of whitethorn is no longer present.
Sir James Frazer wrote of St. Brigid as: “An old heathen goddess of fertility, disguised in a threadbare Christian cloak.” Although she was known as a fire and solar Goddess, Brigid is also associated with rivers and most commonly with wells. Throughout the U.K. and Ireland there are many wells named after Brigid. When pools of water appeared without an apparent source, ancient people thought these waters originated from springs the Otherworld – they arose from within the ‘Oimbelc’, the belly or womb of Mother earth. Their waters could impart knowledge and healing. This well now lies beside a busy main road, but could easily be missed. The well is still in use by a lot of people. I did not stay long at this place as I found a horrible energy associated with it, perhaps this bad energy is a result of the amount of pain and suffering experienced over the centuries, but I had not witnessed this to the same extent at other sites. I have previously visited a number of wells associated with Brigid which you can read about by clicking on the following links; 1/ Brigid of Tully, 2/ The Wayside Well, 3/ Brigids Well, Kilcullen.