Tobar na Molt / Well of the Wethers

Hidden in a small enclosure in Tubrid townland, in the parish of Ardfert, this magical location is one of the most tranquil sites I have ever had the pleasure to visit. We were blessed with gorgeous sunshine as we approached the enclosure along a daisy strewn path that took us across the field to the well. This natural spring is situated to your left as you enter and next to it is a small building known as the chapel. Pilgrims would rest overnight in the chapel. This is the holy well where St Brendan is said to have been baptised by Bishop Erc.

Chapel interior

The well and chapel

Facing the well is a stone altar with three figures, their featureless faces worn from pilgrims scratching crosses on them. The figures are said to represent St Brendan, Bishop Erc and St Ita. St Ita, often referred to as "The foster mother of the Saints of Ireland", has strong connections with this area and a sign marks her grave here. The townland of Tubrid is derived from Tobar Ita or Ita's Well. St Ita is also the Patron Saint of Killeedy in Limerick where St Brendan spent five years in her care at the monastery in Killeedy. There is also a shrine in Killeedy reputed to mark her burial place.

Rag tree

Reputed grave of St Ita

Present inside the enclosure at Tubrid is the customary rag tree. The alternative name for the well refers to an incident that happened during penal times when priests were celebrating Mass at the well. As priest hunters approached with their dogs, three wethers (sheep) jumped up from the well leading the dogs away from the priests, allowing them to make their escape. The sheep disappeared into the ground at Akeragh ( Ath Coarach, the ford of the sheep) near Ballyheigue.

Track across the field

Situated: From Ardfert head south on the R551. After 350 metres turn left at the garage (Station Rd). Then cross the Abbeydorney road and take the next left, 3.5 k from the garage. The well is 150 metres down here on your right, through the farm gate.

Discovery Map 71: Q 8186 2048. Last visit May 2013.

Longitude: 9° 43' 58" W

Latitude: 52° 19' 24" N

Google Map

Photos: Jim Dempsey.

Previous-----Home-----Next Page