A holy well, which has stood for over 200 years at Derrydarragh, Newtowncashel, has become a focal point of some discussion. In 2011, a number of rocks were placed close to the well, which is known as Lady Well. However, the purpose of these rocks was unclear to the local community and visitors alike.
“There has been no public consultation. I feel that they (the rocks) should be removed. The message that it carries when people arrive there. You just don’t deal with people that way nowadays,” said Newtowncashel Parish Priest, Fr Gerry Brady.
Owner of the property, Mr Philip Mayne, told the Leader that the rocks had been placed there to deter cars from driving up to the well and parking beside it. There is one large rock and two smaller ones.
“They (the cars) have polluted the ground around the well and that has a direct effect on the water and the quality of the water. In the past the ground has been completely destroyed by cars around the well,” said Mr Mayne, whose family have owned the property for over three generations.
Mr Mayne continued that it was never his intention to block access to the well.
“There is plenty of space to get past the rock. It is only there to stop people from driving their cars up to the well. Nobody has ever said to me that they have not been able to access the well.”
Fr. Brady agreed that access was still possible, but stated “it is offensive to all that the well symbolises.”
Lady Well is the focal point of an annual Pattern Day which occurs the Saturday before September 8 (Feast of Our Lady’s Birthday) each year. According to Fr. Brady, the local church, which is called the Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, was named against the backdrop of the tradition of Lady Well in the area.
“There are two aspects to the well. It is used by people for drawing water and also by people for religious purposes,” said Mr Mayne. “The rock does not prevent public access to the well. There is plenty of space to go either side. The rock is only 20 feet from the well and there is plenty of space to park on the other side.”
He added, “I encourage people to use the water. It has been tested and it is of a high quality.”
Mr Mayne also pointed out that one of the rocks had its own historical significance.
“It has a number of a steel wedges stuck in it. Originally it would have been used for crafting stone. People are welcome to come and look at that if they have an interest in it,” said Mr Mayne.
Asked if he still wished to see the rocks removed, Fr. Brady replied. “Why did he not put up some sort of notice? But to put up an obstacle course ... I feel that it should be removed. We have to leave it with him for the time being.”
Mr Mayne told the Leader that he was happy to meet with Fr. Brady to discuss the matter further.