Longwood & Trim


Hotwell at Ballinakill is dedicated to St. Brigid and 15th August is its Patron Day. It was known up to a generation ago by its Irish name of Tobar a' Gora. Its water is reputed to be always warm even when the surrounding country is under frost and snow. This well was once dedicated to St. Ultan. Ballina­kill was the last home of the Kindelans -the O Ciondealbháin - former Kings of Laoire and patrons of St. Ultan's monastery at Ardbraccan. It is natural that they should have dedi­cated the well at Ballinakill to the same patron. Since having been driven into exile in Spain in the seventeenth century they have kept the name and devo­tion to Ultan alive from generation to generation. In recent years members of this great old Gaelic family have visited both Tobar a' Gora and St. Ultan's Well at Ardbraccan.


The well at St. Loman's Street in the town is the oldest and the best documented of all Trim wells. While Patrick was preaching at Tara, his nephew, Loman, sailed up the river to the Ford of Trim, his boat being guided by the Lord. The story is recorded in the Book of Armagh, and is said to derive from an earlier account by St. Ultan of Ardbraccan, who in turn had it from Patrick's contemporaries. Here is the translation of the Latin as given by the late Canon Athey in Ríocht na Mídhe in 1955:

"He arrived in his boat against the flow of the river, as far as the Ford of Trim, at the door of the house of Feidhlimidh (pronounced Phelimy), the son of Laoire (the High King). And when it was morning, Foirtchern, son of Feidhlimidh, found him reciting the Gospel, and wonder­ing at the Gospel and its doctrine, immediately believed; and there being an open fountain at that place, he was baptised in Christ by Loman."

So began the first Christian town in Ireland - the Town of the Ford of the Elders.

Two other wells close to Trim, at Tullaghanogue and Iskaroon, have identical inscriptions, "Pray for the soule of Robert, Lord Baron of Trimblestowne, 1687." The date is two years after the accession of James II to the throne of England, when the Catholic lords were beginning to repair churches and other places of devotion neg­lected and desecrated during the previous century of religious intoler­ance. Within four years their hopes were dashed by James' defeat at the Boyne, and it was to be over a hun­dred years before any Catholic churches were erected.

When that time came the population was best served by buildings in the modern villages, and so the old sites like Tullaghanogue and Iskaroon were never rescued from oblivion. In the popular mind, however, they remained sacred places, and their waters are still sought as cures to this day.

Tullaghanogue is dedicated to St. Nicholas, and the old church be­longed to the Priory of St. John the Baptist at Newtown (Trim). In Dean Cogan's time - over one hundred and fifty years ago - there

was a ruin measuring 54 feet by 25 feet, which has since completely disappear­ed. The dedication to St. Nicholas is interesting. As the various tribes of Norsemen were gradually being con­verted to Christianity they wanted to adopt patron saints, and having no saints of their own, they chose apostles, evangelists, or saints who were particularly popular in Christian Europe at that time. Among these latter were St. Nicholas, St.

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