St Brigid’s Holy Well, Ballinaboy, Kilteevan – Kilteevan Junior Tidy Towns Make History
In June 2017, Kilteevan Junior Tidy Towns/Kilteevan N.S. brought a beautiful hand painted stone to Ballinaboy to mark St Bridget’s Well. The stone was painted by Trish Fox, Junior Tidy Towns Liaison Officer and Cormac Dolan, Kate Cunningham, Orianna Cribbon, Kayla Rowkins and Malcom Cumberland carried it to the well.
During the event maps marking St Bridget’s Well dating back to 1899 and 1914 were viewed. While St Bridget’s Well has been named on maps, this precious aspect of Kilteevan’s local heritage was neglected in recent times and was unknown to many in the community.
Before the event Kilteevan Tidy Towns cleaned the well and tidied the surrounding area. The well was blessed by Fr. Sean Beirne. Those there described the event as “A once in a lifetime experience”, “a truly wonderful intergenerational project”, and “an event that sent everyone home smiling”.
Nollaig Feeney, Heritage Officer Roscommon County Council, gave advice and guidance to Kilteevan Tidy Towns in relation to working on the well. The Area Engineer John Mockler had also visited the well and offered advice. The event was attended by Ms Catherine Seale, Community Water Officer Roscommon Co Council. A talk given by Catherine earlier in the year had inspired Tidy Towns to seek out local wells. Also in attendance was Loes Nijkamp, a student from the Netherlands, who was conducting research on Tidy Towns in Roscommon.
The young people at the event were impressed by the depth of the well, the clarity of the water and the capacity of the well to refill itself. The group engaged in chat about the importance of all water sources while one student referred to the effects of climate change.
Two members of Kilteevan Tidy Towns, Mattie and Gertie Murphy, spoke about their memories of using the well. Mattie recalled his family’s daily use of the well. He remembered groups stopping at the well on the way to the bog to fill up containers of water.
Gertie gave a demonstration on making butter with utensils she had kept for forty years. The weight, quality and shine on Gertie’s seamless, stainless steel bucket stole the show. The bucket bought in Harlows Roscommon and cost £20 which was the equivalent of a month’s wages at the time. On hot summer days, she said “it was important to be up before the sun and to peddle into Roscommon shops with your Ballinaboy butter else all you would have is a trail of grease on the road”. After the fascinating description, the group visited the site of the former dairy in Ballinaboy where Gertie told the group that if someone visited the dairy while churning was in progress, it was customary to give the churn a few twists or else risk bringing bad luck upon yourself.
Kilteevan Tidy Towns are hoping to carry out further research on Kilteevan’s wells and waterways in the near future.