SAINT FANAHAN (or in Irish, Fionn Cú, meaning 'White Hound') founded a monastery at nearby Brigown in the seventh century. He was credited with piety of biblical proportions. His reputation as a warrior monk was widely regarded particularly in the medieval period. He was a popular saint and according to the Oxford 'Dictionary of Celtic Mythology,' stories of Fanahan's self mortification circulated widely in the Middle Ages.' The Penal Cross at the Well depicts Fanahan holding a crozier and standing on an eel. The sculpture was made by Ken Thompson and was unveiled in 1989 by the Bishop of Cloyne. Among the symbolism depicted on the sculpture is an eel - the real eel that is occasionally seen in the Well is believed to be the manifestation of Fanahan (trust me, I saw it many times over the years, but only at nighttime). The tastefully executed sculpture also depicts Fanahan, his crozier, a bell, a sickle and the roman numerals 'MCMLXXXIX' for 1989. Traditionally, for nine days and nights before 25 November, large number of pilgrims visit the Well to recite the rosary and pray to Fanahan to seek his intervention to help people who or sick or troubled by other physical or phychological concerns. Prayers are said while walking clockwise along the path around the Well. As late at the 20th century, the Well was popularly associated with cures for lameness and blindness. People who believed that they had been cured through Fanahan’s intervention, hung crutches and walking sticks from trees nearest the Well.
There are two interpretive signs - one at the Well Stile and the other at the Well. These explain some of the history, folklore and traditions associated with the area.
A bronze plaque commemorates a Union Army officer who fought in the American Civil War, and a Fenian who was a convict on the last convict ship to Australia.
MULBERRY LANE Mulberry Lane, at the Well Stile, derives its name from the 380,000 white mulberry trees (Morus alba) that were planted adjacent to this road in the early 1800s. The plantation was operated by the British, Irish and Colonial Silk Company, and was the most extensive mulberry plantation in Britain and Ireland. Cultivated silkmoths lay their eggs on the mulberry leaves. When hatched, the larvae gorged on the leaves. Each larva then forms a cocoon, around which it weaves a very thin thread of silk which can be up to a kilometre long. This thread of silk, when harvested, produced about four centimetres of silk thread used in the making of clothing.
AQUATIC LIFE The river beneath the stone footbridge at the end of the path was anciently called Sruth na nÉigse – ‘The River of the Wisemen.’ This comes from a story in Fanahan’s 'life' which says that wisemen who visited him at Brigown had to seek his permission before crossing Sruth na nÉigse. This stream, after its confluence with the two others, is called An Gradóge, which means ‘Fast Flowing.’
So, where's the Cache? There's ample parking on the roadside at the Well Stile. Follow the Well Path to the limestone wall. If you pass "Michael Donegan" you've gone too far. The cache is a small magnetic container. Bon chance. BYOP - just in case.