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St Brigid’s Well
Jamesie McCarthy
Mount Scott, Mullagh
Recorded in Conway’s Bar, Mullagh, July 1976

Carroll Mackenzie Collection

 

Jamesie McCarthy

There is naught in my travels that scenery so sweet,
As the hills in her bosom where the bright waters meet,
And the clear running brogue through the graveyard can tell,
Of the grand waters falling near St Brigid’s Well.

When you visit this well if are inclined,
You can see a grand monument of Cornelius O’Brien.
He was a High Sheriff, and an MP,
And he fought to gain Erin her bright liberty.

The hills they’re most beautiful sincerely you’ll see.
Ennistymon, Lahinch and Miltown Malbay.
And the clear Cliffs of Moher, the travelers can tell,
Of the grand sulphur spa, and St Brigid’s Well.

On St Brigid’s Eve just as the night fell,
My mother and I went to St Brigid’s Well.
Many candles did burn, bright lights did shine,
O’er the grave of the dead and the vault of O’Brien.

The graveyard is most beautiful as you walk along,
You can see a grand walk with a door quite strong.
And right through the door a coffin does shine
Where there lies the remains of Cornelius O’Brien.

Lisdoonvarna’s grand scenery is most beautiful to see,
And the hill’s lovely rivers flowing onto the sea.
And the tourists of Ireland, many can tell,
Of the grand sulphur spa and St Brigid’s Well.

In sweet County Clare there is scenery most grand,
Should you travel Kilrush and Kilkee’s lovely strand.
For yet in my travels there is none can compel,
With the beautifully scenery round St Brigid’s Well.

St Brigid’s Well is situated in a small, ancient graveyard on a high point outside Liscannor, with magnificent views of the surrounding countryside and the Clare coastline. Locally, the well was regarded as having curative properties for eye problems, among other ailments. It has four pattern days each year:

1. St Brigid’s Eve
2. Garland Saturday & Sunday - the Saturday and Sunday of Crom Dubh (the last Sunday of July and its vigil)
3. The Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven, on 15 August.
The unaccredited description below, and that in the song, does not exaggerate in any way the beauty of the well, the graveyard and the surrounding area (on a clear day when it’s not raining!):

‘St Brigid’s Well, Dabhach Bhríde is found near the Cliffs of Moher in an area of great scenic beauty and behind the well on a higher level to which steps lead, is an ancient cemetery in which the Uí Bhrian, the Kings of Dál gCais, are buried. There is a large cross here and a circular path around it and part of the Rite of the Holy Well is performed in this area known as the ‘Ula Uachtarach’ or upper sanctuary. The Well itself is in the lower ground, the ‘Ula Íochtarach’ or lower sanctuary, enclosed in a little house full of votive offerings such as holy pictures, rosaries, medals and so forth left by pilgrims. Small items which people carry around with them, such as pens, biros and combs, are commonly found also as offerings at wells. This site has a particularly mysterious atmosphere which may be felt at once by the pilgrims as they enter the grove and hears the gentle lapping of the water in the background. Something of the ancient ‘Nemeton’ (modern Irish neimheadh) - the outdoor Celtic Sanctuary - is, perhaps, to be experienced here.’

The graveyard is dominated by a massive column, erected as a memorial to local politician, Cornelius O'Brien of Birchfield (1782 - 1857). O’Brien was the moving force behind O’Brien’s Tower at the Cliffs of Moher, along with pathways, stables, round table, and even a piper to entertain the visitors; unfortunately, on one sad occasion the musician became so drunk that he fell to his death over the cliffs.”
Jim Carroll


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