St Gobnait's House

The remains of the monastic settlement at Ballyvourney are located about a kilometre south of the town. There are two Holy wells at the site that may have originally been pagan shrines, St Gobnait's Well and St Abbans Well. During the Turas or Pattern that takes place here each year on the 11th February, pilgrims walk around the different stations in a clockwise direction scratching crosses on them as they do the rounds. The modern turas begins to the left of St Gobnait's statue which was erected in 1950s. At each station the pilgrims recite 7 Our Fathers, 7 Holy Marys and 7 glorys.

Located to the north of the statue is a circular stone hut known as St Gobnait's House or Kitchen. A container used in the production of glass or metal was found during the erection of the statue. An archaeological excavation took place at the site and early post holes were found at the hut. These post holes are now marked at the site. The hut was added later and evidence of iron working was found at the site. The well at the front of the hut was also dug around this time. The building is the second station of the turas and the pilgrims scatch crude crosses, see image right, on the portal stones as they enter the house, and also on some of the stones on top of the wall. The well at the front of the house is now known as St Gobnait's Well. Interestingly in Irish Mythology Goibnui was the Smith (Iron-worker) of the Tuatha Dé Danann.

Crosses on the Portal Stones

Pilgrimage Evidence

St Gobnait's Holy Well

Station 1

St. Gobnait (aka St Gobnat. Gobhnet, Gobnaid or Gobnata, Abigail in English) Gobnait was born in County Clare in the 6th century. Traditionally it is believed she fled from Clare and took refuge on the Aran Islands. It is said she studied there under St Enda. Kilgobnet Church on Inis Oirr (Inisheer) is dedicated to her. While on Inis Oírr an an angel instructed her to go on a journey. The angel told her that when she came upon nine white deer, that would be her place of resurrection. Gobnait travelled through Waterford, Cork and Kerry. There is a Holy Well and a church named after her in Dunquin, County Kerry, a town near Dungarvan in Waterford. and also Kilgobnet near Killorglin in Kerry. But it was at Baile Bhúirne -Ballyvouney in Cork where she finally came across 9 white deer grazing. She is looked upon as the Patron Saint of Beekeepers and an anglised version of her name is Deborah meaning "Honey Bee". The bee is the symbol of St. Gobnait, when a pagan chief was attempting to rustle cattle, she pointed one of the convent beehives at the raiders the thieves all fled and the cattle were saved.

Situated: From Macroom, County Cork travel west on the N22 towards Kerry. Go through Baile Mhic Ire (Ballymakerry) and after the church on your right take the next left turn signposted. After 400 metres you will come to the first holy well. Take the next right for the Church.

Discovery Map 79: W 1967 7688. Last visit July 2011.

Longitude: 9° 10' 5" W

Latitude: 51° 56' 18" N

Google Map

Photos: Jim Dempsey and Deb Snelson

Looking East to the Church

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