Tullaghan Well

Wakeman did this painting on 29 July 1879 and it depicts Tullaghan Well, also called the Hawk's Well; a name used by the poet and playwright W. B. Yeats in one of his plays and the name of a theatre in Sligo.

It is located on the east-southeast slopes of Tullaghan Hill and is positioned between the inner and outer wall of a cliff edge fort (the north side of the hill is a cliff). The well itself is a small 0.40m diameter pool covered in algae within an oval hollow and enclosed in a roughly constructed U-shaped wall which opens to the southeast. Part of the wall forms a pile of stone with a modern wooden cross on top of it. The upright slab illustrated by Wakeman can no longer be found. According to Sligo historian Archdeacon O'Rorke, who wrote about the well in 1878, locals called this slab the 'altar'. The pile of stones behind the rectangular shaped drystone walled opening to the well, illustrated by Wakeman, is a possible penitential cairn.

This well, rarely visited today, features strongly in a number of medieval sources. In the year 1186 AD Giraldus Cambrensis referred to this well as one of the wonders of Ireland. He says that the well imitates the ebb and flow of the tides even though the sea is 2km away and the well is on top of a mountain. It is also mentioned in the Book of Ballymote (c.1391 AD), which refers to it having the property of ebbing and flowing like the distant sea. References in other medieval texts talk of it having salt and fresh water at different times.

In folklore it is associated with giving the Ox Mountains their ancient name. The Ox Mountains are incorrectly named as they are called Sliabh Gamh, not Sliabh Dhamh, which translates as ox. Gamh was a servant of Eremon, a mythical leader of Ireland, who executed Gamh and threw his head into the Tullaghan Well, which resulted in the water being bitter to taste at certain times. Another legend refers to St Patrick to whom the well is dedicated. After St Patrick banished the demons from Ireland at Croagh Patrick one escaped called the Caorthannach (the Devil's Mother) and Patrick chased her to Tullaghan. She polluted all the wells on the way and at Tullaghan. St Patrick prayed for water to quench his thirst. The well miraculously appeared beside him, giving him the strength to banish the demon.

Like Tobernalt it is associated with a Garland Sunday gathering on the last Sunday of July. This, however, appears to have died out in the early 19th century when the gathering transferred to near Beltra Strand.

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