The Tidal Well of Corann

Patrick Weston Joyce

The old writer in the Book of Ballymote describes this wonder in the following words:—"A well of sweet water in the side of Corann: the property of the well is that it fills and ebbs like the sea, though it is far from the sea too."

The Corann here spoken of is a plain in the County Sligo, from which rises Slieve Gamph, now called the Ox Mountains, west of Ballysadare. The well is still known, though it has lost much of its ancient celebrity. It is situated on the eastern slope of the Ox Mountains, near the summit of the remarkable rock of Tullaghan, one mile north-east of the village of Coolaney. That this well ebbed and flowed, keeping time with the sea, is of course the creation of the people's imagination; but it is a fact known beyond doubt that it sometimes rises and falls in a remarkable and unaccountable way.

There is no regularity in these movements; but such as they are, it is not hard to see how they gave rise to the belief.

The people have another legend about this well—that it was miraculously produced by St. Patrick. When the saint drove the demon-reptiles into the sea from the summit of Croagh Patrick (see p. 11 above) one of them named Kerhanagh, or the "Fire-spitter," instead of going towards the sea with the general body, slily slipped aside and made his escape. The moment the saint had dealt with the others, he followed Kerhanagh; but the demon still kept ahead, and as he went along he poisoned all the wells with his foul fiery breath. When Patrick arrived at the hill of Tullaghan he was quite overcome with thirst; and striking the solid rock, a well of sweet water burst forth. Having quenched his thirst and renewed his strength, he pursued and overtook the demon, and banished him for ever from Ireland. This well was afterwards held in great veneration; and for many hundreds of years it was a favourite resort of pilgrims desirous of paying honour to Saint Patrick.