Peaceful protest highlights lack of access to holy well

February 14th, 2022 1:30 PM

By Jackie Keogh

Dr Edward Walsh at Barlogue

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A BLOCKED right-of-way to an ancient church, burial ground and St Brigid’s holy well was the subject of a peaceful protest at Barlogue in Lough Hyne on Sunday.

Skibbereen-based FF Cllr Joe Carroll attended the protest, having previously raised the matter at a meeting of the Western Division of Cork County Council.

‘People are here for one reason – that they might get access to the Holy Well, particularly in the lead up to Bridget’s Day on February 1st,’ he said.

Cllr Carroll confirmed that he was contacted by a number of people who are concerned about ‘the fencing off’ of the premises.

‘That right-of-way should still be there,’ he insisted. However, when the group discovered that the owner of the property was not at home they dispersed but not before they left a gift – a plaque – hanging on the gate.

Dr Edward Walsh, a former and founding president of the University of Limerick, and his wife Stephanie drove from their home in Tipperary to lead the protest walk in the company of former UCC president Gerry Wrixon.

Dr Walsh explained that the plaque, which he made himself, contained a St Brigid’s cross and a Camellia, one of the first flowers of spring.

This was hung on the gate alongside two laminated signs with legal references to rights of ways and which purported to underline the group’s right to access the 800-year-old pilgrim route at Lough Hyne.

The group continued their walk along the edge of the lake but three people were seen in the distance walking on what has been called a pilgrim path.Katharine Kelleher, whose mother owns the property, previously issued a statement which pointed out that the holy well is situated on private property.

‘Any reasonable request for access to the well and the ruined church we try to accommodate,’ she said.

She pointed out that there has been ‘increased traffic’ in the Lough Hyne area in recent years ‘and regrettably there has been a significant amount of anti-social behaviour on the land including fire setting, litter and verbal abuse.’

On Tuesday, Katharine Kelleher said that the first time she became aware of this walk was an article in The Southern Star. ‘We received no contact from anyone in relation to accessing the Church or Well. Our Mother left her house on Sunday as she felt unsafe at the thought of such a gathering.

‘We are aware that a number of people accessed the lands.

‘However, the vast majority of walkers did not, and we are grateful to them for respecting the fact that it is private property,’ she added.

She also confirmed that a number of other walkers have approached them in recent days, seeking permission to access the lands, and ‘those reasonable requests are being facilitated’.

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