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Tobar na Molt

Bligh Talbot-Crosbie
1911 Kerry Archaeological Magazine  
JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact This content downloaded from on Fri, 19 Feb 2016 03:12:16 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions 421 )e obar na cRRott. By% BLIGH
more » ... ott. By% BLIGH TALBOT-CROSBIE, Esq. OBAIR NA MULT, the Wethers' Well, is a place of ancient and wide recaourse for faithful sufferers, but has not S hitherto received its due meed of attention from the critical scientist. Perhaps science has been diffident of intruding upon religion; but though religion and science have been, and are distrustful of one another, and have not foreborne to slander and persecute one another; who can doubt that did they but know each other, and themselves, a little better, they would find that they are very sisters, both daughters of Truth ? Tobar na Molt is situated in Ardfert parish, in the townland of Tubrid Mor, and a mile and a quarter to the N. E. of Ardfert railway station. Tubrid Mor is adjoined on ,the elast by Tubrid Beg. There are, according to Dr. Joyce, no less than sixteen townlands in Ireland bearing the name of Tubrid. It is well to give his account of the word, as a specious local etymology derives it from Tobar Ita, Ita's Well. It seems that an early form oof the word ' tobar' occurs in 'tipra,' with a dative case 'tiprait' or 'tiobraid,' and as the preference for an oblique case can be remarked any day in the speech of a foreigner or a child-the latter wont to express his satisfaction by 'me do like'-it is only This content downloaded from on Fri, 19 Feb 2016 03:12:16 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions 422 TO-13AR-NA-1OLT. necessary to conceive a Gaelic speaker telling an English that he was going 'go tiobraid,' to the well, a-nr the English, from that day forth going to 'Tubrid.' The epithet 'na mult' is diversely referred to two legendary incidents, current in the district. The former has the merit of associating the mosf renowned spring of the South of Ireland with the most celebrated cleric, St. Brendan, the Navigator; whose name has its fittest memorial in the uttermost mountain of the Dingle peninsula, a peak more solitary, more mysterious, more sublime than even Slieve DoAiard or Croagh Patrick: whose zeal has a lingering testimony in several ruinous foundations in Scotland and in Brittany; and whose legend was the delight of all medieval Christendom. But the congruity of. a connection between the miraculous well and the holy man who was born but a few miles away, must not persuade us to hastily conclude that the well owes its first reputation to the Saint. It is hardly conceivable that such a spring should have been ignored by spring-worshipping druids; nor is it likely that so perfect a natural font would have been missed by early baptists. Moreover, Brendan's birthplace was not so near, nor yet were springs so few, but that some strong inducement must be assumed, for his mother to bring the infant to receive the first Christian sacrament at our present Tobar na Molt. The only written authority to which I can refer, for connecting St. Brendan with Tobar na Molt, is the 'Betha Brenainn,' derived from the 'Book of Lismore,' a 15th century compilation, and reprinted in the YRev. Denis O'Donoghue's 'Brendaniana.' This ancient Gaelic biography, fragrant with its unfeigned devotion and simple piety, furnishes a particular account of the Saint's birth and baptism. The rite was administered by Bishop Erc, identified as the Bishop of Lilcach (unknown) and Ferta-Fer -Feig (Slane), St. Patrick's Brehon, who died A.D. 513, at the age of ninety. The name Erc survives in the district: in the townland of Lerrig (Kilmoyley parish) are This content downloaded from on Fri, 19 Feb 2016 03:12:16 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions TOIUDA.UA-MOLT 423 vestiges of a building known as Termon Eire. More curious; another ruin near Glenderry, in Ballyheigue parish, is known as Kilvicadeachadh (church of Deaghadh's son) which, says Father O'Donoghue, "I believe bears the patronymic of St. Erc of Slane, for his father was Deaghadh, as his pedigree shows, or Dego as it was Latinized by our hagiographers." Two miles east of the ruin Kilvicadeaghadh is an interesting 'holy well' bearing the same patronymic, Tobar Micadeaghadh. I wish Father O'Donoghue had given a reference for Bishop Erc of Slane's parentage-his descent appears in the Martyrology of Donegal, for it is remarkable if a bishop who came at an advanced age, from a remote locality, to administer a wide and savage district is commemorated in one of his foundations by the name of an unknown father. The point deserves investigation. The whole account in the 'Betha': the place chosen for the baptism, the pagan (?) name, changed, apparently just before the rite, for one suggested by a coinciding natural phenomenon; the baptismal "fee in kind," is all so interesting, as indicating the uses of the primitive church in Ireland, and is besides so touching and natural, that I cannot refrain from citing it in full, adapting Dr. Stoke's translation, but giving the ancient ranns in the original. Alltraige Caille (Brendan's birthplace), or Alltraigi-Cuile-Beara according to; a note recurring on the pedigrees of the Saint, was certainly not far from Tralee, and probably in the direction of Fenit. Finnlogha is Brendan's father. " Now on the night that Brendan was born, Bishop Ere saw Alltraigh Cailli under one marvellous blaze, such as he never saw before, and a wondrous ministering of angels in bright, shining garments, through all the country around about.
doi:10.2307/30059659 fatcat:mbpnupifujg2fh6vbpsid2w43u