Holy Well at Kilclough, Matehy
Presented by Pat O'Callaghan
Mid Cork Archaeological Inventory 9278
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This is the most distinctive intact archaeological site/monument in my town land of Kilclough, Parish of Inniscarra. This ancient Holy Well was a very popular place of pilgrimage up to the start of the 20th Century.
It is a rectangular construction, using local red sandstone. The spring, which is very clear and about six inches deep, flows in a North easterly direction under the adjoining road, into the Flynn farm.
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It is quite easy to access from the adjacent road and the walls and parking area have recently received a "facelift" courtesy of the Cork County Council.
I have seen and heard references to the curative properties of the well, particularly applied to women, thus its name "Tobar na Mna Finne" or the more widely used local name "Tobar na mBan".
In the 1950/60s, it was also commonly known as "Tobar an Aifreann". It was generally accepted that Mass was celebrated here in Penal Times. There is no tradition of a pattern or particular saint at this site.
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However, it is interesting to note:
a) A lady drowned in the well in the late 19th Century. She had come a great distance (Macroom / Ballyvourney have been mentioned) and she collapsed and fell into the well. She was then waked at a nearby "small farm" (then owned by the Drummy family). This information was supplied by Mrs Mary Hoare (nee Flynn), now in her eighties, who was reared near the well and she, in turn, had been told this story when she was a young firl by a then elderly lady, Mary Drummy, of the aforementioned wakehouse.
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b) Mrs Hoare also shared the following:
At the beginning of the 20th Century, this spring was noted for its volume and purity. Many neighbours brought their cattle and horses to drink below the outlet. One very dry summer the well went dry for the first time in living or recounted history. Some "wise" person procured holy water and poured it on the dry bed of the well. Inevitably the water returned and it has not dried up since then. This well enters the Shournagh River approximately 200 yards down the valley at Knockane. The area still has an arched bridge and was a site of a stop/station on the old railway (narrow gauge) that ran until the late 1930s.