The Irritable Well

Patrick Weston Joyce

The well in which the river Barrow rises is situated high up on the side of Barna, one of the Slieve Bloom mountains, about five miles north of Mountrath in Queen's County. This fountain had in former days a very cross-grained temper; for if anyone only touched its water, or even looked into it, it immediately overflowed, and a heavy rain began to pour down till all the low-lying lands near it were inundated; and neither the rain nor the overflow ceased till Mass was offered up near the margin of the fountain. This well is no longer prone to take offence, age having probably toned down its temper; but to this day the stream that flows from it—the head-water of the Barrow—retains the vicious habit of inundating the lowlands for miles in rainy weather; which no doubt gave origin to the superstition.