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May 15, 2007


A note by Stephen Talbot on the discovery and re-discovery of the Ancient Well on the MArket Square of Kildare Town




The Well was uncovered firstly in June 1973 by the Council's road crew and I just happened to be on hand and took some colour slides. My now late father was also in attendance on that fine summer morning. Work was in progress at the time, refurbishing the market Square and the then Council overseer, who had discovered the Well in the first instance, received an instruction from KCC at St. Mary's to close in the Well immediately for safety reasons. No thought was given to it's historical significance. My father was most disappointed and asked me to try to do something to have it reopened.
  Soon after, I commenced my campaign (which was to go on for 30 years) to have the Well uncovered and refurbished and stepped up the campaign again in the mid-late eighties.
  It wasn't until May 2000 that I finally managed to arrange a meeting with County Architect, Brian Swan and after much discussion and correspondence an effort was made by GMB construction to locate the Well. We only had photographs to guide us and out of the blue, two more photos turned up. The late Marty Flemming had also taken pictures in 1973. However, on 25th Jan 2002, that effort failed as they were looking in the wrong area. No further efforts were made until the Autumn of 2003 when the Well was finally reopened and refurbished. It was excavated to a depth of 13 feet although it is originally some 80 feet in depth. Provision for lighting at the bottom was made and there are lights installed around the circumference at the top. The Cover is galvanised but it is hoped that with the passage of time a more suitable covering will be installed.
  A plaque was made from polished granite was commissioned in 2006 which reads: Ancient Town Well.. This Well, in existence since 1757 was the town water supply until 1886.  It was accidentally uncovered in 1973 and closed again for safety reasons as it was 25 metres in depth.  It was rediscovered in 2003 and refurbished by Kildare County Council.


[additional note on the water supply of Kildare - From articles in the Leinster Leader (1882 and 1901- no mention of well in this later one Church of the Oak pp. 40 and 49) on the pumps and water supply and the dating of the waterworks in the Market Square to 1886 I think it could be argued that the well was closed in 1886 or certainly around 1886 when the water was pumped from Tully.
According to the Historic Towns Atlas the well on the Square was

1763 - draw well
1817 pump
1838 fountain
1847 - pump house
1872 pump
1873 no building
1882 pump
It says the pump was later removed. The Waterworks constructed 1882-6 and extended in 1897; water pumped from St. John's  Well, Tully c. 1 km S.E. of Kildare to a tank in the roof of the market square (nearly sure the date-stone on the Nugent St. side says 1886 which would indicate the operation of the water works).
I would imagine that once the water works was in operation then the pump would have been removed and the well covered but an article from the Leinster Leader 1973 (Church of the Oak pp. 92-3) suggests the well may have been an emergency backup (at the very least) for the town in the early days of the 20th century - Mario Corrigan]

Stephen Talbot has to be commended on his efforts to preserve and record one of the ancient sources of water for the town and it should serve as a reminder to us all to be ever vigilant in terms of protecting and preserving the history and heritage of our local environment in so much as we can.

A note by Stephen Talbot on the discovery and re-discovery of the Ancient Well on the MArket Square of Kildare Town

Posted by mariocorrigan at May 15, 2007 10:53 AM