The Prophetic Well of Raphoe

Patrick Weston Joyce

At Raphoe in Donegal there was once a well which told people truly whether they were to be long or short lived. A person had only to stand on its brink and look into it; and if his life was to be a long one the water bubbled and rose up with a loud murmuring noise and overflowed; but if on the contrary he was fated to die soon, the water retreated and sank into the well.

This is something like the legend of St. Patrick's Well beside the old church on the top of the hill of Ardpatrick in Limerick. The water is down at the bottom of an open perpendicular stone-built shaft a yard wide and 12 feet deep:—

Within it gaze the peasants to see what may befall:
Who see their shadows down below, they will have merry cheer:
Who see not any shadows shall die within the year.

See this ballad ("The Well of the Omen") in Dr. Robert Dwyer Joyce's "Ballads of Irish Chivalry," p. 6.