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  • Writer's pictureHugh MacMahon

The 1,500 Year Well



There was good news at the annual ‘festival’ at sunny Clonard on September 2nd.

Dr Niamh Wycherly who gave the talk ‘Clonard from the 6th to 12th Century’ is the Principal Investigator of the 4-year SFI-IRC Pathway project to explore the Clonard heritage.

She is a Professor of History at Maynooth University which is receiving €2 million from Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) and the Irish Research Council (IRC) to fund the project.

Finally Clonard is being recognised for its key role in the social and cultural change that led to Ireland’s Golden Age.

The monastery, founded in 520 by St Finnian, was said to have three thousand students studying there. Among them were the ‘Twelve Apostles of Ireland’ who went on to found famous schools themselves and spread Finnian’s dream for the country.


Today visitors to Clonard site are amazed at its neglect. Nothing has been unearthed or preserved and there is no commemoration of what was achieved there. Any other country would be promoting it as a national monument and treasure.


Nearby one authentic relic from Finnian’s time does remain. It is the Holy Well that is said to have been dug by Finnian himself. He and his students would have drank from that spot.


It is still revered and kept in good shape. The memory of the ordinary people lasts long and may have nudged officialdom to get involved.

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