Tobar Bhríde

Tobar Bhríde 1

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.

 Tobar Bhríde 2

The Clootie Tree

The Clootie Tree

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.

Statue of Brigid

Statue of Brigid

Tobar Bhríde 5

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.

 Tobar Bhríde 7

Tobar Bhríde 6

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.

Tobar Bhríde 8

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About edmooneyphotography

Photographer, Blogger, Ruinhunter, with an unhealthy obsession for history, mythology and the arcane.
This entry was posted in Diary of a Ruinhunter, Historical, Medieval, Photography, Places of Interest, Religious Sites, Sacred Well and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to Tobar Bhríde

  1. It beggars belief that the council would let a well dry up and a whitethorn die just to widen a road! The history of Brigid and her recuperation by the Christian Church is fascinating. You wonder if Christianlity invented anything new at all.
    Lovely photos.


    • Thanks Jane, when it comes to councils and even the government in Ireland, nothing surprises me! The church in Ireland was quite different from elsewhere, in that they incorporated much of our ancestors beliefs and practices into the new religion. Christmas, All Hallows, Easter, they are are pagan in origin, 🙂


  2. chirose says:

    oh how lovely..!!


  3. I have already planted the seed in my family’s mind that we have to visit Ireland…I will certainly ask you for advice. And will certainly return the favor should you ever want to hunt for such treasures in the Alps.


  4. Jo Woolf says:

    What an interesting place, and I am also interested to hear about your experience of it. It makes you wonder about its untold history.


  5. Maria Falvey says:

    What an interesting history – the statue of Brigid is compelling.


  6. jillmarley says:

    Thanks for the story behind the well and bringing Brigid into our time and our minds. Although I have (and am) done an extensive amount of travel in my lifetime, I have missed so many special places – I just don’t think we live long enough to take it all in – so thanks for sharing.


  7. Kavita Joshi says:

    you captured the soul of this place dear…loved the pics 🙂


  8. Debunker says:

    These pictures are so like the kind of thing you find in Japan. I particularly like the one of Saint Brigid in her Rosary-entwined cage … Great stuff!


  9. Hi, Ed. Thanx for sharing some of the history of St Brigid’s wells along with the photographs. Appreciate your stopping by my blog site. Have a wonderful day.


  10. mengeleblog says:

    thanks for sharing with us !


  11. Beautiful images, thanks for sharing, Brightest Blessings!


  12. Pingback: Part of the WordPress Family Award! | Nia Simone, Author

  13. Pingback: St. Kevin’s Well – Glendalough | EdMooneyPhotography

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