A few days ago while driving to Cork, I took a small detour to the village of Clonmult. Clonmult, Co. Cork is best know as the site of an IRA ambush which took place on the 20 February 1920 during the war of Independence. On the outskirts of the village is a lovely holy well dedicated to St Laurence.
St Laurence’s well is located in the townland of Garrylaurence/Garraí Labhráis meaning Field/Garden of Laurence. It is located in a small enclosure beside a narrow road that runs through the townland.
The well consists of a natural spring with a circular well house, with a corbelled roof covered in concrete. The well house looks like it was built in the 19th century. A plaque over the doorway states ‘St Laurence’s Holy Well Renovated by Clonmult Muintir na Tíre 10. August 1969‘.
The well is accessed through a narrow doorway . There is a step down into the water and inside the door on the left is a small recess. Power writing in 1917 mentions the recess kept an iron drinking-ladle attached to a chain. On my visit there was a small candle with Padre Pio in the recess.
A large statue of St Laurence and a small stone cross bearing the inscription INRI Saint Laurence and the date 1824, sit on top of the roof.
The holy well looks well maintained and appears to be still in use. Beside the well is a small monument with an iron cross.
St Laurence is Laurence O’ Toole a 12th century Irish saint who was abbot of Glendalough and later Bishop of Dublin. He died in the monastery at Eu, in Normandy and his tomb in Eu became a place of pilgrimage and many miracles were attributed to his intercession. He was canonized in 1225 by Pope Honorius and his remains were translated to a tomb in front of the High Altar on the 10th of May.The nearby church church at Clonmult is also dedicated to the saint.
The saints feast day is the 14th of November , but the 9th of August was the main day for pilgrimage at Garrylaurence.
The Ordnance Survey Namebooks written in 1841 state
A holy well called ‘St Laurence Well’ where paterns were annually held some years since on the 9th of August…
In 1917 Power records that rounds were made here chiefly on August the 9th and votive offering of ‘usual character ‘ on the tree branches ‘which are immediately over the scared fountain’.