Lady's Well

Dublin Core


Lady's Well

Description of Well Item Type Metadata

1 Name of well and saint

Lady’s Well

2 Townland, County, GPS

Beach, Cork

3 Physical description of well and its surroundings

Power notes the well is "Covered by stone-built dome, lined internally with coursed, water-rolled stones. Stone-built altar to SE of well” (Power, 1993: 281).

Amanda Clarke notes: The well itself is nicely constructed with blocks of stone forming an arch, the interior lined with waterborne pebbles. The canopy was put up in 1952 when the site was renovated – the steps were also cut into the rock and the statue of the BVM was also erected (it took four strong men to get her up there!)

4 Cure

There is healing associated with the well. A story tells of how a young girl from Drimoleague was brought here in a chair, unable to walk. She saw the eel and was reputedly cured, no longer needing the chair for her return journey home. When the statue of the BVM was put up in 1952, some of the money received towards the cost, came from the granddaughter of the girl who was said to have been cured (see Amanda Clarke

5 Pattern day

Open air mass takes place on 15th of August. The rounds were said here on the 15th August, the Feast of the Assumption, and on the 8th December, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. The site is dedicated to the BVM but the original patron may have been St Gobnait, who has her shrine at Ballyvourney.

6 Offerings

religious statutes, rosary beads, coins, flowers

7 Prayer rounds and stations

Johnny Crowley, a local historian, explains what you had to do:

Tis a very devout place. and there have been healings attached to it. The rounds is done here on the 15th August. The rounds then consisted of 15 decades of the Rosary, going up one side of the path by the altar and down and round the other. The tradition was to take 15 small pebbles and as you passed the well you dropped one in. You know you had the 15 decades finished when you dropped the last pebble in the well. When you threw in the 15th stone and said your Hail Holy Queen, if an eel that was in the well jumped up in the water, the main part of your wish would be given…
(Sheep’s Head Way booklet)

8 Stories

Extract from the Schools’ Folklore Collection:
There is a holy well about a mile and a half to the west of the town and it is called Lady’s Well. This well is situated in the townland called Beach. Some people go to this place on certain days, giving rounds. It is generally on the feast of the Assumption, the fifteenth of August, they go there. They walk around the well fifteen times, and each time they say an Our Father, A Hail Mary, and a Glory Be to the Father, they then say the Rosary. Sometimes people are cured of diseases by making rounds at the well, and by drinking the water out of it. When people go to the well, they always leave some token there, such as a rosary beads, medals, prayer books or a coin. There are many crutches and sticks, placed around the well, those were left there by people who had been cured by praying and by drinking the water of the well. In olden times, it is said that Our Lady used to be seen there. (055/056: 0281) (Amanda Clarke)

9 Publications

See Amanda Clarke's

Power, Denis, et al. 1993. “Archaeological Inventory of County Cork.” Volume 1: West Cork. Stationary Office, Dublin.

10 More

Like some holy wells across the country, Lady's Well has an adjacent mass rock. Amanda Clarke describes this: The Mass Rock was used during Penal Times (1695-1756), one of many open air places of worship resorted to when conducting Mass was illegal and priests in danger of their lives. Maybe the site was chosen because of its proximity to the holy well.
Another story from the Sheep’s Head Way booklet and Johnny Crowley:

Lady’s Well, a little hollowed glen, was used as a Mass Rock in Penal times. In the Bantry area during these times the priest wasn’t hunted, provided he kept out of the way, certainly of the Landlord, and didn’t make a big scene about the religious practices. At the Penal time then, there was a story that there was a change of command of the soldiers at their headquarters in Donemark Mills. Somebody took the advantage of notifying the new captain in charge that there would be Mass in the morning at Holy Well and the new captain could capture a priest for himself. And that somebody no doubt got some money for his information. And seemingly they did send soldiers out to the Mass at the Well, and the story was that when they appeared on the high ground in front, the priest decided to take his chalice and host and hide it and began to run, but the people watching saw what they thought was a Lady with the light blue cloak on the rock behind the altar where the Statue is now. The Lady slipped the cloak down over the whole thing and blocked off the scene of the altar and the Mass from the soldiers. And when the soldiers saw this, they turned away and left….