A few weeks ago Christy Cunnliff the Galway Archaeological Field Officer brought me to see some seventeenth century folk art in East Co Galway. For anyone interested in the archaeology and history of Galway, Christy writes the Galway Community Archaeology Blog.
The folk art is a stone plaque depicting St Patrick. The plaque is incorporated into the wall enclosing Tobar Padraig holy well, in Monivea Co Galway. The well is a natural spring with stone lining, it is enclosed by a square shaped wall and is in turn enclosed by penanular earthen bank at the centre of a graveyard.
According to tradition St Patrick rested at the well and baptised the local people, indeed a rock at the side of the well with a slight depression is said to have been created by the saint when he knelt beside the well (Cunniffe 2016, 3). The holy well was once a place of pilgrimage and a large pattern day took place on the feast of the saint.
The plaque is set into internal face of the east wall surrounding the holy well. The figure of St Patrick fills the plaque. The saint holds a patriarchal cross or staff in his left hand, while giving the episcopal blessing with his right hand. The saint on the body of a serpent type creature, whose tail is pinned down by the saints staff. A small s IHS monogram is found beneath the left arm of the patriarchal cross. In the upper left hand corner of the plaque is the inscription
”Pray for Fa Thomas Kiegery who made this image in remembrance – 1688′.
To find out more about the folklore connected to the well see Pilgrimage in Medieval Ireland’s blog post HolyCows, The Miraculous Animals of the Irish Saints: Part 8, St Patrick and his Goat.
The plaque is similar to one I have already recorded at Patrickswell Co Limerick.
Cunniffe, C. 2016. Tobar Padraig Holy Well , A Significant Local Pilgrimage Site. Galway Community Archaeology Advisory Project Heritage Week August Unpublished Report.