Hidden deep in the North Kerry countryside you will find a beautiful place of peaceful serenity called Tobar na Molt. It is a holy well, from an ancient Celtic sacred spring also known as the Well of the Wethers. If you are in search of an off the beaten track spiritual place with a serene atmosphere for a little quiet contemplation or to just say a quiet prayer, you will have found it in Tobar na Molt.
North Kerry, and in particular the villages and townlands of Fenit and Ardfert, have strong associations with St Brendan The Navigator, the saint who is reputed to have discovered North America prior to Christopher Columbus. It is purported that Christopher Columbus read reports of St Brendan’s journey before commencing his own later voyage. St Brendan is said to have been born on Fenit Island and later baptised at the Tobar na Molt Holy Well in Tubrid, a townland just outside Ardfert. It is believed that Ardfert Cathedral was built on the site of a monastery founded by St Brendan in the 6th century.
The Tobar na Molt Holy Well in Tubrid can be found in a small laneway leading to a pathway in a field, where there is an array of religious artefacts on the site. The Holy Well itself is beside a small building which is known as the chapel, and in here pilgrims would have been able to rest overnight in the building. Also on the site is an old stone altar as well as two shrines, a rag tree and St Ita's Grave.
The Holy Well is still a popular site of pilgrimage, with masses held on various Pattern Days and also on the feast day of St Brendan. In olden times, there are stories of full immersion into the well for healing purposes and stories abound regarding claims of reported cures after sipping water from the well.
The well is also known as the Well of the Wethers. This relates back to penal times, when it is said that priests who had been saying mass at the well were saved from priest hunters by three wethers, or sheep, who leapt out from the well and lead the hunters away from the area, allowing the priests to finish and make their escape.
The Tobar na Molt Holy Well is part of the Slí Bhreanainn (The Brendan Way), a trail which you can follow to find out more about the various locations in the area associated with St Brendan.