Fr. Mackey’s Blessed Well.

Christianity came toIrelandalmost 1600 years ago. Over that time, we have had our many great saints, missionaries, miracle workers and internationally recognised holy shrines. There are the major ones, like Lough Derg, Knock, Holycross, and Croagh Patrick, but there arealso numerous local, rural shrines and here in Loughmore-Castleiney, we have Fr. Mackey’s Blessed Well.  Who was Fr. Mackey, and what is the history of his Blessed Well? He was born John Mackey on 27th December 1800, to Edmond Mackey and Bridget (Fitzpatrick) of Aughall, Castleiney. He studied for the priesthood at Maynooth, and was ordained there in 1831. During his priestly life he served in many parishes, among them Kilcommon, Ballina, Cappamore, Emly, Upperchurch, Drangan and Mullinahone, and was appointed P.P. of Ballylanders in 1872. He resigned his parish in 1889, at the grand age of 89 years, and returned to live with his family at Aughall, where he died on 29/01/1891 and was buried in Templemore.

 

He had his own difficulties in life. He suffered famine fever in the late 1840’s, and had a long struggle with alcoholism, so he knew what it was to suffer and to need the help of the Lord to stay on ‘the straight and narrow’! Perhaps that is why he is reputed to have created a Blessed Well, as visible proof of God’s presence in and care for our lives. In his own area of Castleiney he was regarded as a “thaumaturgus” which means “wonder or miracle worker”.

 

The story goes that he blessed a well in a field belonging to his brother-in-law, James Brennan, who was married to Joan Mackey. But this well was a long way from the roadway and he wanted it to be more amenable to people who wished to use its healing qualities. So he gave a night in resolute prayer, and in the morning the well had sprung up in its present position, just off the main Templemore/Castleiney/Templetouhy road. The well is reputed to have curative powers for the treatment of eye disease. The pilgrim or patient must visit the well on three consecutive days, bathe the infected eye or eyes, drink some of the water, and pray for cure. Some people may treat this kind of story with doubt or scepticism. Yet all of us at times need help, blessings, perhaps cures. The Lord himself said “your faith hath made you whole” and if some people find the idea of visiting a shrine or reputed holy place helps them to renew that faith, then indeed such shrines serve a great purpose, and it is not for the doubters to criticise them. At the moment, the well and the entrance to it have fallen into a state of neglect – so it was felt locally that something should be done about it. Last October over twenty people attended a meeting with the purpose of restoring the Blessed Well. All showed great enthusiasm for the project,

 

With a committee was appointed, with Chairman Billy Sweeney, Secretary Eamon Brennan and Treasurer Kathleen O’Mahony. The committee meets regularly, and is putting together a plan to restore the well in a manner that will be easily maintained, and also a pleasant place for people to visit. As yet no decisions have been taken, but funds will be needed and the possibilities of restoration grants from various sources are being looked into.

 

As a fundraiser, the committee produced a 2012 calendar which contains over 40 photographs, some present day and some from times gone by – in all, a most interesting record of past and present achievements end events in the general area. As we go to print the sale of the calendars is going quite well. Also, a progressive 25 drive in association with Templeree Graveyard Committee was held. Some donations have been received for which we are very grateful. We would welcome any financial assistance in bringing this project to fruition in 2012.

 

A bank account has been set up to facilitate direct donations:

Name of Account: The Fr Mackey Blessed Well Restoration Fund

Account No: 91543448

Sort Code : 90 44 56

Bank ofIreland, Templemore.

Or to Fr Padraig Corbett PP, Castleiney, Templemore.

All donations will be acknowledged.

 

So, that is the story of our Fr Mackey Blessed Well. Whether we are believers or sceptics, we will all accept that this is part of our history or folklore, and if it is of value spiritually or physically to some people, then it is worth preserving. Besides, it is a lovely local spot, a local history talking point, and as such we should do all we can to restore it to its former glory, and make it attractive for people to come and visit.