Three Marvellous Wells

Patrick Weston Joyce

In the parish of Galloon, County Monaghan, there was formerly a well whose water had a very strange virtue; for if you poured some of it over a person's head, the hair at once turned grey.

Giraldus Cambrensis gives an account of another well of this kind, which he states was situated in Munster. He tells moreover in his usual chatty style a story in point—that he once saw a man who had washed one side of his head in the water of this well; and that the half that had been washed was white, while the other half remained quite dark.

Giraldus mentions another well in some part of Ulster, which was gifted with the very opposite virtue; for it prevented greyness altogether, or restored grey hair to its original colour. He tells us also, what indeed we might expect, that this well was in great favour, and that it was frequented by numbers of men and women from all parts of Ireland, who were no less anxious to escape grey hairs than people of the present day.

The writer of the Kongs Skuggio notices these two last, placing them both in the Slieve Bloom Mountains in Queen's County; and he is still more explicit. Of the first he writes:—"If a man washes himself therein, whatever colour [of hair] he has whether red or white or black, then he becomes snow-white of hair as if he were an old man." Of the second:—"If you take either a white sheep or a neat or a horse or a man with white hair, and you bathe any one of these in that water, they become forthwith coal-black."