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Toberpatrick Cemetery & Holy Well

Toberpatrick Cemetery & Holy Well Longford’s abundance of historic cemeteries and holy wells is a testament to the deep religious faith that has been held in the county since early-Christian times and before.

Many graveyards are associated with ancient monastic settlements dating back 1500 years or so to the dawn of Christianity in Ireland. These were traditionally enclosed within circular spaces, the footprint of which can still be seen in the boundary walls to this day.

Toberpatrick in Dromard parish is one such graveyard. Toberpatrick means ‘The Well of Patrick’ in the Irish language. Raised high above the surrounding ground level, the cemetery is encircled by a stone wall.

The finely carved headstones include one dating from 1671, bearing the name ‘Jacobus Farrell’ – ‘Jacobus’ is Latin for James. It is one of the earliest inscribed gravestones in Co. Longford.

The cemetery also contains the grave of General Blake, a leader of Franco-Irish forces at the Battle of Ballinamuck, who was executed following the battle. (Separate entry on the Battle of Ballinamuck).

In 1911 an Irish priest in America, who originated from the area, paid to erect ‘Stations of the Cross’ in plaster of Paris. These are currently being restored by the community.

A little farther down the laneway, next to the graveyard is the holy well itself, which is beautifully maintained by the local community.

Also located here is an unusual ‘wishing tree’ or ‘prayer tree’, where scraps of material are tied to the branches and prayers are offered up for the souls of the departed. It is likely that this custom goes as far back as Ireland’s Celtic past.

The burial ground and holy well are open to the public.

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