St Bernard's Well

Dublin Core


St Bernard's Well


Niall O'Mahony

Description of Well Item Type Metadata

1 Name of well and saint

St Bernard's Well

2 Townland, County, GPS

Fermoy, County Cork

3 Physical description of well and its surroundings

The blackwater was full, still, and impressive, and the footpath named after the St Barnane Walk, is an attractive spot to wander down, in fact, it is now part of the official town walk. The well is about 500meters along, passing some interesting Victorian buildings behind walls and vegetation. The well is clearly signed by a wall plaque and is accessed along a whitewashed passageway, somewhat mouldy and licheny at the moment. Signage to the well is accessed down a narrow passageway. There are actually 2 well basins, both connected underground, the water eventually flowing out to the river. The well to the south is foot-shaped, partially lined with concrete and has 3 steps leading down the circular-ish basin. The whole thing is surrounded by concrete slabs. The well to the north, which receives water from its companion, is more rectangular in shape, also with 3 steps down to it. Water in both wells was clear and plentiful, but choked with coppery leaves and little water beetles skimming along the surface. It's an odd space, claustrophobic and damp, a small spindly tree with a large metal protective grill and a wall-set cast iron drinking fountain-presumably the water was once piped to this for around the edge it warns rather sternly: "Keep the pavement dry!"

4 Cure

It is thought to cure blindness.

8 Stories

Lizzy O'Grady gives a very detailed account of St Bernard's well in the Schools' Folklore Collection
Around the district of Fermoy, there are many holy wells. In Burnane Walk south of the river Blackwater there is a well called St Bernard's well, which is situated about 100 yards from a Picture House built on the site of an old abbey. As Fermoy is a beauty spot, many sightseers visit it and they make sure in viewing the course of the Blackwater and in rambling up Barnane they visit the well.
About 15 yards south on the right bank of the river Blackwater and a quarter of a mile west of the Femoy bridge the exact position of the well is to be found.
The well is on level ground protected by a wall on the east, south and west, but open on the north to admit visitors. On the south side to which is attached an enamel cup, an ash tree grows near whose branches over-spread the well. Beech trees grow to the .. and the west. A gravel path leads to the well which is divided into 2 parts, the part near the entrance is square shaped, 3 steps must be descended to reach this well in the waters of which are applied to affected parts. About a yard from this is a round shaped part of the well which is also 3 steps below the level of the ground. The water of this is drunk and sometimes taken away in bottles. Both parts are connected by an underground stream, the waters of the round part feeding the square part and flowing thence to the river Blackwater.
St Bernard lived sometime during the 11th centurey. On one occasion when he visited Fermoy a poor blind man came to him and begged him to restore his site. St Bernard blessed the ground on which they were standing and immediately a fountain of fresh water sprang up. The saint told the man to bathe his eyes with water and no sooner had he done so than his sight was restored. The news of the miracle spread rapidly throughout the country and many blind people came to the spot and washed their eyes with water from the well and were restored their sight.
Many strange sights have been seen in the neighbourhood of the well and it is supposed to be haunted.
I have gathered this information from some of the old people in Fermoy (041-043:0378)
St Bernard (1090-1153) was actually French, one of the leading lights behind the Cistercian movement and a gifted spiritual leader and writer. He founded the great abbey of Clairvaux in Burgandy, with himself as the Abbot. Quite what he was doing in Fermoy, I'm not sure, but his feast day is the 20th August.

9 Publications

Schools Folklore Collection, The Gazetteer

10 More