St. Patrick's Well

Asenath Nicholson
Chapter VII (14) | Start of Chapter

I went alone to the St. Patrick's well, and was directed as many different ways as I found Paddys to point me. At length two fine boys left their sport, and conducted me back over a wall, and showed me the winding path through shady trees, down a declivity to the dark solitude where the sacred well was sparkling. Soft and pure was this water, like most that I found throughout Ireland.

Two aqueducts conduct it underground a little distance; it then forms a rill. A stone cross stands near for the benefit of pilgrims, and a decayed church whose mutilated altar, with its rude inscription, carried you back for centuries, to the time when the Irish Roman Catholic Church was in her glory.

Everything about this frequented spot is calculated to fill the mind with a chastened if not religious awe. The dark wood behind the old stone church, the rippling of the little brook, the ancient stone cross, the seclusion of the spot chosen for a place of worship, the lateness of the hour, my distance from the land of my fathers, and the thought that this is the green spot in the ocean, where have figured and still live a people unlike all others, filled my mind with painful, pleasant, and romantic ideas. But I must now leave this sacred dell, and though neither snake or lizard could coil about my feet, yet it was sunset; and ascending the serpentine path, I reluctantly left the enchanting spot.

Ireland’s Welome to the Stranger is one of the best accounts of Irish social conditions, customs, quirks and habits that you could wish for. The author, Mrs Asenath Nicholson, was an American widow who travelled extensively in Ireland on the eve of the Great Famine and meticulously observed the Irish peasantry at work and play, as well as noting their living conditions and diet. The book is also available from Kindle.