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Double Take: Have you seen these 'Headache Well' signs in north Tipperary?

Here’s why they’re there. (And why we could all do with one.)
Dec 19th 2017, 10:09 AM 1,194 0

EVER WISH THERE was some magic way to get rid of your headache that didn’t involve popping a painkiller? You might be in luck.

Welcome to Terryglass, a picturesque village tucked away in north Tipperary. Situated on the shore of Lough Derg, it’s home to holiday homes, an annual arts festival and a beloved local pub in the form of Paddy’s Bar.

The village boasts a rich history with a monastery having been founded on the site in 549 AD by Columba of Terryglass, one of the Twelve Apostles of Ireland. Among the relics left behind from this time are two holy wells. Like many ancient holy wells in Ireland, both were once purported to have healing properties.

First of all, there is St Augh’s Eye Well. As the name suggests, its water is said to help those afflicted with ailments of the eye with rituals performed at the well every Saturday in May. More amusing, however, is St Columb’s Headache Well, signs for which are dotted around the village.

According to an old testimony preserved by UCD’s National Folklore Collection, the well is so-called because it is said that people had their headaches cured by praying at the well and washing their face in its water.

The holy well known as St Columb’s is situated within the monastic grounds. It is known locally as the headache well from the fact that when prayers are recited at it and the face or head then washed, cures were brought about. It is still treated with reverence, but few rounds if any are performed there at the present day.

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It may not be in use anymore, but it nonetheless remains a local curiosity with the signs alone enough to pique the interest of visitors.

If only we all had our own little headache well, eh?

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Amy O'Connor


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