Knockpatrick Hill is located a short distance from the town of Foynes in West Limerick. According to folklore St Patrick visited here when traveling around Co Limerick.
The landscape includes the site of a church, a holy stone and a holy well, all dedicated to the saint.
St Patrick’s Holy Well
St Patrick’s holy well is located to the west of Knockpatrick Hill in the corner of a large field.
The holy well is a natural spring defined by an oval dry stone wall. Some time in the last century a larger concrete structure was built over the well and the wall. The spring well’s water flow into a rectangular trough or bathing tank.
A large statue of St Patrick sits in a statue niche over the doorway of the well house.
According to Ó Danachair (1955, 215) witing in the middle of the last century large crowds came here on the 17th March. Devotion to the well has declined and today the water in the well trough are covered in thick green algae.
Knockpatrick is only a few minutes walk from the well.
St Patrick’s Church and Graveyard
Its an easy climb to the summit of Knockpatrick Hill. The summit is dominated by the ruins of a late church surrounded by a historic graveyard. A modern altar and shelter are located on the west side of the graveyard.
The hill is 572 feet above sea level and has wonderful views of the surrounding countryside including the Shannon Esturary, with the exception of the view to the northeast which overlooks the Aughinish Alumina’s factory.
According to legend, St Patrick built and consecrated the church at Knockpatrick when he visited the area in 448 AD. It was siad he blessed all the land that he could see. Folk relating to the area recorded in the The Schools’ Collection, for Shanagolden, Co. Limerick also tells that St Patrick
while staying at Knockpatrick … blessed Co. Clare. He knelt down at the highest point of the hill, gazed northward across the Shannon at the County, stretched out his hands and said “My blessing over to you”. Volume 0483, Page 168
St Patrick’s stone
The ‘Suíochán Pádraig’ or St Patrick’s Seat is located on the eastern shoulder of the hill. The seat was said to be made up six stones. Today the stones are enclosed by a concrete wall.
The interior floor is covered by patches of concrete and a large wooden cross stands in the center. The six stones cant be idenified and they may be covered by the concreted or the briars and ivy. Folklore from the 1930’s relating to the stone notes that
There was a flat stone to be seen at the summit of Knockpatrick until about twenty years ago. On it were two hollows which bore a rough resemblance to an impression which would be made by human knees. A local tradition connects this stone with St Patricks blessing of Co. Clare – that when giving his blessing he knelt on it, and as a sign that God had heard his prayer the imprint of his knees remained on the stone. The Schools’ Collection (Shanagolden) Volume 0483, Page 168.
During the twentieth century pilgrimage ritual at the site were focused on 17th of March. Pilgrims recited three rosaries
‘one around the wall of the burial grounds, one while moving clockwise around St Patrick’s Well and the third at Suíochán Pádraig’ [St Patrick’s Seat] (http://www.limerickdioceseheritage.org).
Knockpartick is a lovely place to visit on a sunny day. Arpatrick Co Limerick is another hilltop site assoicated with St Patick in Co Limerick a with the saint is also worth a visit.
The Schools’ Collection, Shanagolden, Co. Limerick (B) Volume 0483, Page 168