St Columcille's Holy Well

Nestled in a secluded area, on a hillside to the northwest of the town is St Columcille's holy well. This really is a hidden gem. The well is built against a wall at the end of a small track lined with gorgeous old trees, with gnarled roots, on the north side. Architectural fragments from the Augustinian Priory were used in the construction of the well house. These include the carving of a figure, which is believed to represent Peter Rothe, a member of the great merchant family, and owner of one of the fortified houses in Inistioge. See also Rothe House, Kilkenny. Two stone fonts from the priory are also present at the site.



Pictured above from left to right are, a decorated fragment from a cloister pilaster, the holy well with a architectural fragment inside and another piece from the cloister, bearing the carving of Peter Rothe. The inscription below the figure reads: Petrus. The font pictured above, was used by pilgrims at the well for bathing their eyes. The second font, pictured below, was used for washing their feet. The latter is a custom associated with a number of pilgrimage sites.

The well is accessed via Hatchery Lane, a small tributary of the River Nore runs parallel with the lane, through a glen known as "the Combe". Apparently it was customary for pilgrims to approach the well on their knees, wading through the stream, before ascending the hill to the well. The modern pilgrim has it much easier. A pleasant walk along Hatchery Lane, sign-posted, takes you to a small footbridge over the stream. A series of steps, meandering through a well kept community garden, leads you up to the well. If you look back, across the glen towards the town, you can see a Norman motte high on the hillside above the town. A patron at the well takes place each year on the saints feast day, 9th June.

Situated: From the town square head west up the hill. Take the first right. and then next left along Hatchery Lane to the small bridge over the stream.

Discovery Map 67: S 6329 3794. Last visit Feb 2019.

Longitude: 7° 4' 5" W

Latitude: 52° 29' 21" N

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Photos: Jim Dempsey.

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