My daughter and I had several days to drive around Ireland in our little rental car but that is not enough time to see a whole, beautiful country and search for traces of our ancestors. We woke up early, packed up and drove south out of Dublin. My daughter quickly adjusted to driving in the left hand lane from the right hand driver’s seat, understanding the road signs and listening to her GPS.
We headed to County Tipperary, the home of the Daniel Mullane & Brigid English family and did some sightseeing along the way. Powerscourt in County Wicklow has a beautiful mansion with gardens that are considered among the finest in the world. We were there early and had the Italian, Japanese and spring gardens to ourselves. We had tea and scones in the mansion’s café, overlooking the center fountain before going to County Waterford and the House of Crystal where we took the fascinating tour.
After the morning of sightseeing we turned our focus back to genealogy. We found our way to County Tipperary and Clonmel, the largest town in South Tipperary and the home of my Mullane ancestors.
The first place I wanted to see was Saint Patrick’s Well, just west of Clonmel. When Saint Patrick traveled through County Tipperary he stopped there.
"The Patrick’s Well… is situate in one of the prettiest glens in all Tipperary. During the centuries that have elapsed since our National Apostle rested there, it has been a spot sacred in the sight of the people, and will ever remain so. Even down to our own times it has been a favourite resort, especially on St. Patrick’s Day, and many remember the procession of thousands of citizens, who followed the famous Clonmel brass band on the annual 17th of March pilgrimages to the historic well.” My Clonmel Scrapbook by James White, 1907
My daughter and I managed to find the little road leading to the well and pulled into the narrow car park, large enough for only two or three cars. A sign with information about the well had moisture beneath the plastic covering, making it difficult to read. A long set of wide steps curve down to the well. A statue of Saint Patrick, Padrais Naofa, erected c. 1956, stands beside the steps. In the lovely pool of water at the bottom of the steps is a weather worn stone cross, carved about 800 AD. There’s a roofless stone chapel with an ancient tomb inside. All together it is beautiful and peaceful.
The Daniel Mullane family took picnics to Saint Patrick’s Well. Old black and white home movies show the place, easily recognizable by the stone cross. Family stories tell of the dog running away with Aunt Nell’s hat and when he was chased the hat ended up in the water. I was delighted to be be in the same place my ancestors had enjoyed. Now the ancient site is the setting for memories for another generation of our family.