By Johnny Crowley, Local Historian, Dromloc House B&B, Bantry
“Lady’s Well, a little hollowed glen, was used as a Mass Rock in Penal times. In the Bantry area during these times the priest wasn’t hunted, provided he kept out of the way, certainly of the Landlord, and didn’t make a big scene about the religious practices.
At the Penal time then, there was a story that there was a change of command of the soldiers at their headquarters in Donemark Mills.
Somebody took the advantage of notifying the new captain in charge that there would be Mass in the morning at Holy Well and the new captain could capture a priest for himself. And that somebody no doubt got some money for his information.
And seemingly they did send soldiers out to the Mass at the Well, and
the story was that when they appeared on the high ground in front, the
priest decided to take his chalice and host and hide it and began to
run, but the people watching saw what they thought was a Lady with the
light blue cloak
on the rock behind the altar where the Statue is now. The Lady slipped the cloak down over the whole thing and blocked off the scene of the altar and the Mass from the soldiers. And when the soldiers saw this, they turned away and left.
Now in practice probably what happened was that being a foggy
morning, which would be of the type of morning they would use for having
Mass, not a clear morning. If soldiers did start coming there, no doubt
some of the ones who would be keeping the lookout would inform Lord
more than likely he was the one who called the soldiers back off, rather thanit being a total miracle.
I’m just going from the mystical to the practical, between the two things. For every story that has a mystical side, there is a practical side which can work as well, you know, which works more for the rational thinker.
But Lady’s Well is one of the holy wells that really stood out, and
because the Mass Rock happened to be at the site, held on to it. ‘Tis a
very devout place, and there have been quite a few healings attached to
it. The rounds is done there on every 15th of August. The rounds then
consists of 15
decades of the Rosary, going up one side of the path by the altar and down and around the other. The tradition was to take 15 small pebbles and as you pass the Well you dropped one in. You know you had the 15 decades finished when you dropped the last pebble in the Well. When you threw in the 15th stone and said your Hail Holy Queen, if an eel that was in the Well jumped up in the water the main part of your wish would be granted, something would be given.
Denny Collins, who I just remember, used to tell the story that when
he was a young lad, which would be sort of 1870-80, he helped to get a
young girl from the Drimoleague side who was paralysed on the chair –
they had to borrow a chair from that farm to the east, and she was
brought over between
two men, and he was sent along just to keep an eye on the chair to make sure they brought it back, I think! And anyway they did the rounds, and as soon as the rounds was finished, the girl said, “Look at the eel”, and she stood up to catch the eel, and on the strength of that they made her take the
chair home herself.
In 1952 my mother with many other people was involved in putting up
the statue there, and they put it on “The Southern Star”, and Dan
McCarthy use to post the “Star” out to a lot of immigrants in America,
and after the first month my mother got a letter from the woman sending $
20 for the shrine
in Beach in memory of her grandmother who was cured there as a child. Somebody should be able to remember a story that she had to take the chair back to the home she borrowed it from.”