The legend of St Movee’s Well

Between Balcunnin and Ardgillan Park there is a graveyard directly beside Killalane. St. Movee’s well is situated on the path which runs along the side of the graveyard into Milverton demesne.

St. Movee was a hermit, about whom little is known, except that he died in 630 A.D. He should not be confused with St. Moibhi of Glasnevin who lived a century earlier. The foundations of Movee’s hermitage are said to be in the graveyard. He is remembered in the area by a well which is dedicated to him and also by the following local legend.

St. Movee had a small plot of land on which his hermitage was built. His neighbour coveted Movee’s land and wanted to make it his own. One day while he was ploughing he began to plough the saint’s land. When St. Movee asked him to stop the ploughman replied with the following rhyme:

‘Saint Movee or Saint Movoo, I’ll plough this furrow before I go!’

With this, the ground opened up, swallowing the ploughman, his horses and plough, leaving only the boy who had led the horses to tell the tale.

Water from St Movee’s well is believed to cure eye complaints. The well itself will grant a wish to those who perform the follow ritual, but a person has only one wish.

On arrival at the well pick a laurel leaf. Walk around the well three times in an anti-clockwise direction. Then go down the steps to the well. Put some water on the leaf and as you drink it make your wish. When finished throw the leaf into the well.

St. Movee’s well is surrounded by large rocks forming a “coffin” shape. It is a deep well with steps leading down to the water. Part of the wall lining these steps includes an old church font, probably from St. Movee’s chapel.

The well is also known as Fionn Mac Cumhaill’s well. One of the large stones on top of the well has five “finger holes” in it. Some say these belonged to the disrespectful ploughman but another story claims that Fionn Mac Cumhaill’s hand made these impressions when he threw the rock from Lusk!