There are numerous holy wells in the area, some of which are still to be found and more which have become overgrown. I was fortunate to meet Eugene Murphy one day he took me around to a series of holy wells, some which are marked on the OSI maps and some that weren’t. 

In Castletalbot there is St. Bridget’s Well which was linked to the graveyard at Killila. Eugene Murphy did some enquires for me and took me to the site where the well once stood. Although marked on OSI maps, the spring was drained into the stream that runs beside the well some years back. All that remains now are some of its stones. The well is located on the boundary ditch which separates Glebe from Castletalbot. On the OSI maps it is marked as being on the Castletalbot side of the ditch. Eugene told me that his father always said there was a small lake where the well field now lies and that the townsland of Castletalbot had an older Irish name which had ‘muine’ or ‘mona’ in it description.   

The best preserved well happens to be Toberrevagh which lies across the road from the entrance to the gold course. It’s down slightly from the entrance on the opposite side. The well is accessed by climbing some flag steps up the ditch and the well lies there. Someone recently put a metal lid and some plastic over the well in a bid to keep it from getting dirty. Eugene points out that many local people called this St. Mogue’s Well while in fact, his is across the field. This is backed up by the old OSI maps which clearly marks it as Toberrevagh. I spoke to someone who grew up in Kilnew and he said that his mother would draw water from this well in a creamery can and it was the nicest water in the world to drink. We then crossed the field to an elbow in the ditch and with the help of Eugene and his slash hook he showed me where Tobermogue lies. Although in bad need of a cleaning, it was the spot as there was traces of a line of stones and the ground was wet from the strong spring underneath it. 

What is really interesting about these wells was Eugene’s pronunciation of them. Toberrevagh sounding like ‘Tubber-e-vaa’ while Tobermogue sounding like ‘Tubber-muidge-aa’.

Tobermogue is dedicated to Saint Máedóc from the 6/7th century. As many of older people will tell you, the name Mogue and Aidan are regarded as the same in Wexford, with many people being Christened Aidan but called Mogue throughout their lives. The famous Wexford saint whom this well is named after is popularly known as Mogue which derives from Máedóc  (Mo-Aedh-óg = my dear Aedh). Aedh became Áedan and then Aidan. 

St. Mogue, as I’ll call him, was born in Cavan and became the first bishop of Ferns. He left his mark throughout the Northern part of the county in wells and place names, with Boolavogue stemming from his name; Buaile Mhaodhóg - Mogue’s Boley (a boley or buaile being a summer pasture). 

Another place Eugene took me was Tobernavea in the townsland of Ballingowan. Eugene tells me that this was one of the many sites where mass was practiced during the Penal Times in the locality. In my line of work, I’ve came across Mass Rocks, Mass Holes, Mass Hollows etc, however Eugene said his father used to call this site, The Mass Parlour. 

Although we could not find the spring well on the first day we visited the site, Eugene took me back again and showed me the beautiful granite font which caught the spring water. The site is called Tobernavea which would suggest that it was used as a holy well prior to the Penal Times. In most mass rock sites I’ve came across, there was nothing left visible at the sites as it might give away the location to authorities. All I can surmise is that it was a holy well, known by the local community and during these hard times, mass was celebrated there. 

The Mass Parlour is a wonderful name for this site as it is a contained site, with surroundings high banks, secure and with a great vista over the countryside. The font was originally further down the sandbank, where the spring came out of, however during some reclamation work it was moved some meters to where it is now.

Holy Wells

Kilnew, Garraun, Ballingown

and Castletalbot, Co. Wexford

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