Moving away from the Monastic City, I followed the green route through a forest area which followed the river. In fact I totally missed the well of Kevin on my first pass. It was not until my return from a ruin further upstream that I found this little gem, thanks to the tell-tale signs of a Clootie or Rag Tree. If it had not been for the bright red Rag tied around the tree, I would have most certainly passed by this sacred spring a second time. I guess this is where experience comes into play in an important way when ruin-hunting. Like so many of the Holy Well’s or Sacred springs that scatter our fine countryside, the one thing that many have in common is the Clootie or Rag Tree. Just look at Tobar Bhride or Colmcille’s Well as prime examples.
The Well is not marked on any of the tourist maps or websites of the area and as I found out can be easy missed. Its about 200 meters along the green track and only 15 meters south of the river. The spring is contained by a stone lined shaft with four steps leading down into the water and is surrounded by a C shaped earthen mound. The Clootie/Rag tree stands watchful guard over this ancient site. Aside from a rather colourful red ribbon and a few trinkets left by visitors, the site does not appear to be visited as much as some of the other holy wells. It would seem that the well is in fact older than the nearby Glendalough complex and is said to be the site where one of Kevin’s first disciples Solomon was baptised. As with many such sites the well probably predates the arrival of Christianity in Ireland.
Many of these ancient springs were held in high regard by our ancient ancestors and are believed to have been associated with the spirit of the two lakes. Who knows what rituals took place here prior to the arrival of Christianity. It was for that reason that the new religion began to take over these sacred sites and associate them with their saints as it gave the people a bridge between the old and new religions. The Rag tree is quite young and may have only been planted in the last few decades. Apparently there is still a pilgrimage here on Kevin’s feast day, 3rd June. Either way it is still a tranquil place to spend some time, perhaps the spirit of the lakes still resides here?