( Religious Sites in Mohill )
by Paddy Duignan, Drumreask, 22-11-1999.
Before the coming of Christianity to Ireland, the people of Mohill Parish, like the rest of the country, were a spiritual race. They enacted their rituals, paid homage to their dead and worshipped their gods.
When St. Patrick came to Ireland in the 5th century AD they changed their worship and embraced Christianity with open arms. It is from this time that the tradition of holy wells has its origins, and indeed countless wells all over the country are dedicated to St Patrick.

Paddy Duignan at Tobair Muire, Drumoughty

These wells became a focus for the new Christian faith. They were holy places where people gathered to pray and the water in them was seen as pure and life giving and symbolic of their baptism. There were many holy wells associated with Mohill Parish and while the tradition of Pattern days or Pilgrimages has more or less died out, the older generation will retain vivid memories of these days. In 1934 the National Folklore Commission collected information on local history from schools all over the country and the following accounts of holy wells relate to Mohill Parish.

( I ) Holy Well in Crossdrumman -
"There is a holy well in the townland of Crossdrumman in Mohill. It is situated at the bottom of a big hill in a lonely spot, about two miles from the nearest Church. It is about three yards up from the river, there is a white thorn bush growing over it and there is a heap of stones around it. The well is dedicated to St. Patrick, the days of pilgrimage are Monday and Thursday and it is used for curing warts. Prayers are recited at three different places at the well and each time the prayers are repeated a stone is thrown into it.
The prayers recited are three Our Fathers and three Hail Marys'.

Eliza Jane Banaghan, Carlton National School, 19th July 1934.

( II ) St. Patrick's Well in Drumlara, Eslin -
'The well is on the top of the hill overlooking Lough McHugh, convenient to an old fort on the side of the road, about 100 yards west of it. There is no church beside it. Some 40 years ago a large ash tree about 8 feet in diameter grew near the well. It fell then and the trunk was left untouched beside the well until it crumbled away. The well is dedicated to St. Patrick and there is no special day for an annual Pattern, the usual prayers are a Decade of the Rosary and the Creed, there are no special offerings. The benefits are temporal and on completion of the prayers pieces of cloth are affixed to the bushes near the well. The water is drunk and carried away by those visiting. In 1845 a local man washed fresh pork (Griskins) in the well and the water left the well and sprang up 200 yards left of the old spot near a large lone whitethorn bush in McHugh's field. St. Patrick is reputed to have rested at the well after crossing the Shannon on his way to Fenagh. The Pilgrimage was discontinued about 1880'.

As told to Jack Flynn NT, Drumdart, by Owen Mc Gann, Killamaun, in 1934.

( III ) The Blessed Well Drumoughty More, Gorvagh -
The Blessed Well is situated in the townland of Drumoughty More, Gorvagh, in the Parish of Mohill. Tradition has it that St. Patrick rested and prayed at this well on his journey from visiting the High King of Tara to the West of Ireland. There was great devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, in my younger days during the 1930's and 40's when almost all the people of the locality visited the Blessed Well between 15th August and the 8th September. They prayed fervently at the well and tied a piece of ribbon or cloth on the big bush which grew over the well. They also brought home a bottle of water from the well, this was used to sprinkle on anybody in the household who was sick, and for any animal that was sick on the farm, such was their belief in the Blessed Well. There was also a standing stone beside the well. The writing on the stone was hard to distinguish, but part of it read "Erected by MARK MELIA in honour of St. Patrick"

"As a small boy I remember the old people telling me that the hills around the well were all dotted with small tents where people had come for many miles away and stayed praying between the two Ladies Days, (15 th August / 8th September) such was the devotion to this Blessed Well".