by ehistoryadmin on October 9, 2018

Leinster Leader 25 August 1968

The Holy Well in Baroda Stud, Newbridge

Pilgrims in thanksgiving visit Droichead Nua Well

Sunday will be a day of rejoicing for the priests and people of Droichead Nua and the Augustinian Fathers. For them it will be a spiritual re-union and the renewal of an association having its roots back for at least seven centuries.

The parish priest, Right Rev. Monsignor W. Miller, V.F., and his parishioners will welcome some of the spiritual sons of the great saint to the site where their predecessors in the famous Order ministered so many years ago until adverse laws made it impossible for them to continue.

On Sunday, which is the nearest to the Feast of St. Augustine, at 4 o’clock the people of the parish led by the Parish Priest, who is President of the Kildare Archaeological Society and an Augustinian group, led by the Very Rev. P.F. Haughey, O.S.A., Superior, Good Counsel College, Ballyboden, Dublin, will go on pilgrimage to the 700-year old holy well dedicated to St. Augustine.

The well, on the Baroda stud, Connellmore, Droichead Nua, was re-opened recently by the stud Manager, Mr. Thomas Hayde, and his staff and was found to still contain a natural supply of water.


Since 1202 until early in this century it had been a famous place of pilgrimage. Its blessed water was especially famous for cures for head ailments in general and diseases of the eye in particular, and people from all parts of Ireland and some from England, despite the crude means of transport then available, travelled there trusting in the Divine Physician to make them whole.

Sunday’s ceremony will be one of thanksgiving and will be conducted by the Rt. Rev Monsignor Miller. One can well imagine the feelings of the Augustine Fathers when for the first time in many, many years an Augustinian priest will speak on the sod which was once part of the land attached to the priory of Great Connell and whose chapel walls echoed to the chanting of the Solemn Office.

It will be a bridge over a great chasm of time linking a great but turbulent past with a happier present when Very Rev. Kevin O’Flynn, O.S.A., Dublin, preaches the Panegyric of St. Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, one of the great Doctors of the Church, and illustrious founder of the famous Order, which for many years had such close associations with County Kildare and the Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin.

Only link

This well is now the only link which the Order has with this county where once the Canons Regular of St. Augustine had priories at Great Connell, Castledermot, Kilcullen, Monasterevan and Naas. The Friars of St. Augustine had a large Abbey at Naas for about 350 years – from 1484 to 1834 – which they had to vacate to make way for the Naas Branch of the Grand Canal, and the stones of their church were used to build Abbey Bridge over the canal.

But there were other ties between the Augustinians and the Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin, before and after the Reformation. When each was a separate diocese, Augustinian Bishops who were Priors of Great Connell (Canons Regular) ruled each diocese at different periods. Before the Reformation, Prior Thomas was Bishop of Leighlin from 1252 to 1275 and Prior Walter Wellesley was Bishop of Kildare from 1529 to 1539.

After the Reformation, two Friars of St. Augustine ruled, Dr. Mark Forrestal, O.S.A., was first Bishop of the United Dioceses of Kildare and Leighlin from 1678 to 1683 and Dr. James Doyle, O.S.A., the great J.K.L. Champion of Catholic Emancipation and National Education, was Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin from 1819 to 1834, and one of the most famous Bishops not only of this united Diocese but of the Irish Church.

Famous Prayer

During the pilgrimage on Sunday a commemorative plaque, designed by Mr. John Brennan, Manager, Farrell’s, Glasnevin, will be unveiled. On it is an inscription :- ‘St. Augustine’s Holy Well, 1202 A.D.’ and the Saint’s famous statement after his conversion and which has become the prayer of millions down the centuries since his death in 430 A.D., ‘Thou has made us for Thyself, O Lord, And our hearts can never rest until they rest in Thee.’

The well has been a subject of investigation and research by the historical writer, Mr. J.K. Clarke, Dublin, who describes it as “… surrounded by some half dozen tall trees, is located in a field, now a part of the Baroda Stud, owned by the Maharantee of Baroda and managed by Mr. Thomas Hayde.

“The well had been dry, I am told, for the past 30 years or so. Up to that time, it had been frequented regularly on Sundays by visitors and pilgrims, cars coming from quite distant places.

“The water, much of which was taken away in bottles by pious visitants, was believed to contain a cure for head ailments in general and eye trouble in particular.

Statue remains

“Down the years, rosary beads, medals, crosses and other such items of devotion were hung on the large double trunked tree nearest the well, and votive offerings by pilgrims. All that remains today is a white chalked-like statue of the Madonna about six inches high, resting in the recess of the tree. There is also a cross, some 14 inches in height, carved into the right-hand trunk, above eye level and seems to have been executed a long time ago.

“Very recently the stud staff cleared away the overgrowth and found water in the well, just as the old local had assured me, that as late as three years ago he had seen water flowing on the gripe side of the nearest tree, which is still trickling.

Mr. Clarke quotes Lord Walter Fitzgerald, writing of the well between 1886 and 1889 and stating that it was named after St. Augustine, the great Doctor of the Church and Bishop of Hippo, and in former times was resorted to for cures – a practice still in existence at the period, though limited in extent.

Mr. Clarke says he is much indebted to Rt. Rev. Monsignor Miller, V.G., P.P., Droichead Nua and to Mr. Tom Hayde, Manager of the Baroda Stud, for much valuable assistance.

Practice ceased

Rt. Rev. Monsignor Miller, in an article in ‘St. Conleth’s Parish Bulletin,’ writes that 50 or 60 years ago, St. Augustine’s (or St. Austin’s) Holy Well on the Baroda Stud lands was a place of Pilgrimage for those seeking cures from headache, eye trouble and other ailments.

He states that pilgrims left medals, crosses, and other small articles of devotion on the trees surrounding the well and goes on: “This practice has now ceased and it is doubtful if anyone visits the place. In fact, many may not know of its existence. The well has been dry for a number of years and it is covered with overgrowth but it is likely that water would be found if this were cleared away.”

He tells us that interest in the well has been revived lately by a Dublin man who is writing an article for the Kildare Archaeological Journal on the Augustinian Friary at Naas.

Monsignor Miller continues: “The foundation at Naas belonged to the Friars of St. Augustine who were distinct from the Canons Regular of St. Augustine who inhabited the Priory at Great Connell.

“The Friars, who traced their origin to St. Augustine, led a strict monastic life, and have as their successors the Augustine Order as we know it in Ireland to-day. The canons followed the rule of St. Augustine and lived in community and devoted their time to looking after the spiritual needs of the people in the district in which their monastery was situated or the monastery held lands.


“A Dublin man, Mr. J.K. Clarke, mentioned the well to Miss Maura Tallon, the well-known librarian of the Augustinian Order, who, in turn, brought the matter to the notice of the present Irish Provincial of the Order.

“It was decided that efforts should be made to revive the practice of visiting the well. It was suggested that a pilgrimage be made to the well this year. Mr. Thomas Hayde, manager of the Baroda Stud, offered to give all the help he could by having the well cleaned up and allowing the pilgrims on the land.”

Stating that the pilgrimage would take place on the Sunday nearest the Feast of St. Augustine, Monsignor Miller’s article continues: “Members of the parish sodalities, Legion of Mary, and all interested parties will assemble at the main entrance to the Baroda Stud. All will walk in procession to the well as it is done at the annual pilgrimage to St. Patrick’s Well at Barrettstown.”

The article mentions the address by an Augustinian Father and the placing of tablets to mark the well and says; “It is hoped in this way to revive a practice which was common in the past. As many as possible should attend on August 25.”

Leinster Leader 31 August 1968

Big Crowds join in well pilgrimage

Seldom has the singing of ‘Faith of Our Fathers’ more suited the occasion than after the pilgrimage to the recently re-opened 700-year-old well dedicated to Saint Augustine at Connellmore, Droichead Nua, on Sunday.

About 1,000 people, comprising locals, led by Right Rev. Monsignor Miller, V.G., P.P., and President of County Kildare Archaeological Society, and four coachloads as well as numerous carloads containing an Augustinian group, led by Very Rev. P.F. Haughey, O.S.A., Superior of Good Counsel College, Ballyboden, Dublin, walked in pilgrimage from Connellmore crossroads to the well.

The mingling of local and Augustinian voices in hymn and prayer recalled an age when the order ministered to the people of the area from Great Connell Priory, founded in 1202, and which was about a quarter of a mile away.

After the Reformation, the small church was suppressed but some members of the community remained on in the area, to maintain the light of faith.


For the Augustinians then this pilgrimage was a sentimental journey. The little well, dedicated to their illustrious founder, is now the only devotional link the order has in Kildare.

They ministered for many centuries in the county and diocese over which two of their distinguished Fathers ruled as bishops: Dr. Mark Forrestal, O.S.A., a former chaplain to the Emperor of Austria and first Bishop of the United Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin from 1678 to 1683, and Dr. James Doyle, O.S.A., the great ‘J.K.L.’ champion of Catholic emancipation, Bishop from 1819 to 1834, and one of the most famous bishops of the Irish Church.

It was while he was preparing a history of the Augustinians in Naas that Mr. J.K. Clarke, well-known historical writer and member of the Old Dublin Society, found a reference to the Holy Well. He began investigations and enlisted the help of Miss Maura Tallon, Civic Museum and Hon. Librarian to the Augustinians at Ballyboden. He interviewed local people and received special assistance from Monsignor Miller and Mr. Tom Hayde, Connellmore.

Dry thirty years

The well, surrounded by a half dozen trees, is in a field at Connellmore. Sunday’s huge crowd could see Corbally House where the Grand Canal begins and further on the woods above Punchestown.

The well has been dry for thirty years. Up to then it had been frequented regularly on Sundays, by visitors and pilgrims, often travelling by car from quite distant places.

The water, much of which was taken away in bottles by pious visitants, was believed to contain a cure for head ailments in general, but eye trouble in particular.

Through the years rosary beads, medals, crosses and other such items were hung on the large double-trunked tree nearest the well as votive offerings by pilgrims. All that remains today is a white chalk-like statue of the Madonna about six inches high nestling in the recess of the tree, above eye level, and seems to be executed a long time ago.

Lord Walter Fitzgerald, writing on the well between 1886 and 1889, relates this interesting story, “I have been told that forty or fifty years ago (i.e. the mid 1830-40), the proprietor of Connellmore, to prevent the people from using the well, built a small wall around it. Thereupon, right beside the kitchen fire, in his house, a flow of water sprung up, causing great inconvenience, and this lasted until the Holy Well was again made free to the public.”

After he had led the gathering in the Rosary, Right Rev. Mgr. Miller said that the people of the area owed a debt to the Augustinians and he hoped that this pilgrimage would revive interest in the well.

Profession of faith

“We must not come here just to look for a cure but to profess our faith and our devotion to St. Augustine,” he said.

Very Rev. Kevin O’Flynn, O.S.A., who preached the panegyric on St. Augustine, said the Irish had always favoured two forms of devotion – the devotion of the Rosary and the devotion to Wells. Even Cromwell could not close them as the wells gave the people a link with the saints.

He advised anyone who had difficulty obeying the Pope’s recent encyclical on Birth Control, to have recourse to St Augustine and ask him for help.

Led by Rev. Fr. Harrington, C.C., Droichead Nua, the gathering then sang ‘Faith of Our Fathers’ and it was on a moving note that the pilgrimage ended around a well where a plaque now commemorates St. Augustine’s famous statement after his conversion: “Thou hast made us for Thyself, O Lord, and our hearts can never rest until they rest in Thee.

Re-typed by Kevin O Kelly


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