On Sunday’s Well Road, near the entrance to the Shaky Bridge, is a small semi-circle of brick in the footpath.
Stand in this semi-circle, facing the wall, and you’ll find a wall-mounted limestone plaque, dated 1644.
It’s inscribed ‘IHS Sundays Well 1644’.
This marks the spot from where Sunday’s Well gets its name, a mysterious stone font where thousands of pilgrims would travel to take the waters of a holy spring, which, according to local lore, still runs underneath the current road.
The holy well was covered over to allow for the road to be widened in 1946, but it remains a site worth visiting if you’re curious about local legends.
People who believed the well had special powers would travel across the river by ferry to drink the water and splash it on their hands and foreheads.
A ritual was to walk around the well three times while you prayed and visitors would also tie small pieces of fabric to the branches of the ash tree that stood over it for blessings and good luck.
A verse written by Father Prout (aka Francis Sylvester Mahony 1804-1866) and uncovered by Fiona Forde of Irish Family Detective, sums it up nicely:
‘In yonder well there lurks a spell,
It is a fairy font;
Croker himself, poetic elf,
Might fitly write upon’t.
The summer day of childhood gay
Was spent beside it often;
I loved its brink, so did, I think.
Maginn, Maclise, and Crofton.
Of early scenes, too oft begins
The memory to grow fainter.
Not so with me, Crofton, nor thee,
The Doctor or the Painter.
There is a trace time can’t efface,
Nor years of absence dim –
It is the thought of yon sweet spot,
Yon fountain’s fairy brim.’