This is the story of how I ruined mancakes.
Mancakes: (n) bacon pancakes; also, the event at a bro’s house where his bro friends are served bacon pancakes in a harmless celebration of masculinity.
Ironically, I don’t love bacon. But having spent most of my life despised by an older brother for not being a boy, I must have picked up, somewhere along the way, the ability to resemble “one of the guys” and thus secure a precious mancakes invitation. However, I erased any chance of a second invitation before I even arrived.
Now, the walk from my house near Galway City Centre to the hosting bro’s house on Dublin Road is pretty. It goes along Lough Atalia for about a mile. You have to understand, I’ve done this walk along the lough (the Anglo-Irish spelling of “loch”) a thousand times before. The walk to the movie theater goes along here. The walk to a friend’s house. My jogging route. (Ha, okay, I’ve only used the jogging route once or twice.) My point is: I know this walk.
And that’s it! So imagine my surprise when I saw this:
What’s that? you say. That’s exactly what I said! So I scampered away to explore in total disregard of my boyfriend’s shouts.
This was a holy well that had materialized, as if by magic, along an old familiar walk! Mancakes could wait.
According to my later research, it is one of 3 holy wells that existed along the shores of Lough Atalia back in the day. The other two seem to have disappeared. (One was found and promptly buried by those dastardly Irish. Holy shit is less impressive when it’s just, like, everywhere.)
The well is called “St. Augustine’s Well,” supposedly named for the Augustinian friary that was founded in 1508 on the big hill looking down upon Lough Atalia. Unfortunately, the friary’s location made it great for guarding Galway’s harbor, so some secular assholes stole it from the friars. Like taking candy from a baby.
One historian thinks the naming of the well was simply an attempt to make a pagan site appear to have a Christian connection. It might have been a Domhnach Crom Dubh site – an ancient Celtic holiday associated with Lughnasadh, another ancient Celtic holiday. And the Christians saw it and said, “Hey, that’s cool. Let’s take it!” Like taking candy from a baby.
The well is, so I’ve read, a place of pilgrimage in late July or early August (around the time of Lughnasadh). Apparently, in the 1660’s, Cromwell’s forces rained bullets down upon a group of pilgrims at the well before stealing all their stuff and imprisoning them.
Why is everybody so obsessed with this well? you ask. Well, (see what I did there?) the well is supposed to have healing powers for eye ailments. (Wtf? Yeah, I don’t get it, either.) But the first (read: only) miracle on the well’s record has nothing to do with eyes. It involves a boy named Patrick Lynch.
Little Patrick, 14 at the time, was taken to the well in the summer of 1673. He was seriously ill, vomiting up everything he ate, and it was feared that he would die. (They must have forgotten about those shots he was buying at the pub.) Little Paddy was submerged in the well water and then taken out and wrapped up to fall asleep. When his mother woke him up, he threw a right bitch fit! He said Jesus was talking to him in his dream and had given him all these instructions on drinking from the well and visiting it for 9 days and all that jazz. Apparently, young Patrick didn’t have that vomiting problem again.
However, the big guys of Galway decided to look into this miracle, talking to all the witnesses, and decided there was no way to verify it. Instead, they went, “You know, maybe it was the darn water that cured him.” Also known as hydropathy.
Your guess is as good as mine.
Long after I’d succumbed to mancakes in order to save my relationship, there was this one thing gnawing at my consciousness: I lived for weird old things like that well. So how had I never noticed it before?!
All was revealed one day as I jogged along Lough Atalia a few weeks later. (Ha, you got me again, I was walking.) You can blame my landlocked upbringing in the American Midwest for this “duh” moment.
Low tide was responsible for this magical disappearing holy relic! Oh Science, you got me again!
We were an hour late to mancakes. Needless to say, I won’t be invited back. But I think it was worth this special find!