Valentia Island

St Brendan's Holy Well

Remotely situated on a flat plain on the northwestern side of Valentia (Valencia) Island is St Brendan's Well. In local tradition it is believed that St Brendan sailed to Valentia across Dingle Bay and scaled the cliffs near Culloo, just in time to baptise and anoint two dying pagans. It is known as Tobar Olla Bhreanain, the well of St Brendan's anointing. There is a leacht or altar built around the well and to the right is a stone inscribed with a cross. I imagine the cross was scratched on to the stone by the many pilgrims doing the rounds at the well.

The Crosses

Located on the eastern side of the well are three ancient stone crosses. These crosses may have been part of the rounds the pilgrims would make at the well stopping at each cross and reciting prayers. All three crosses are similar in height and age. I would guess they are from about the 7th/8th century. The two smaller images show the two crosses nearest to the well. The image above shows the most easterly cross which is accessed via a wooden stile. A superb site and a wonderful place to just sit and contemplate.

Situated: From Portmagee head on to Valentia and turn left. After 1.6 kilometres turn right and then 53 metres next right. After 750 metres turn left. Park near O'Sheas derelict pub and walk down the track at the end. Walk left and then right to the well. Bring boots and tread carefully.

Discovery Map 83: V 3495 7581. Last visit Sept 2012.

Longitude: 10° 23' 56" W

Latitude: 51° 54' 36" N

Google Map

Photos: Jim Dempsey and Deb Snelson.

The well and crosses

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