St. Bernard’s Holy Well near Abbeyknockmoy in County Galway is a holy well dedicated to St. Bernard, the patron saint of the parish church, and has been a place of pilgrimage and healing for centuries.

St. Bernard’s Holy Well is located on Knockroe Hill, about 2 km from the village of Abbeyknockmoy. The well is named after St. Bernard of Clairvaux, a 12th-century French abbot and reformer of the Cistercian order. He was also a friend and adviser of Pope Innocent II, who granted him the privilege of founding the Cistercian monastery of Knockmoy in 1189.

The monastery was one of the largest and most influential in Ireland, and its ruins can still be seen today. The monks of Knockmoy were known for their devotion to prayer, work and charity, and they also cultivated the land around the well. They built a stone wall to protect the well from animals and planted trees and flowers to beautify it.

The well was believed to have miraculous powers, especially for curing eye diseases and restoring sight. There is a legend that a blind man was wandering around the hill and got lost. He prayed to St. Bernard for help, and as he was about to stand up, he grabbed some heather that came loose from the ground. The water from the well splashed on his face and he regained his vision. He then asked that the well be named after St. Bernard.

The well was also a popular destination for pilgrims, who came to drink the water and bring some home with them as a blessing. On St. Bernard’s feast day, August 20th, mass was celebrated at the well by the parish priest, and people gathered to pray and socialize.

Today, St. Bernard’s Holy Well is still a place of reverence and beauty. The well is surrounded by a circular wall with an opening on the north side. There is a stone cross on top of the wall, and a plaque with an inscription that reads:

“St. Bernard’s Well
Pray for us
Erected by Fr John Greally P.P.

The water from the well flows into a small basin, where visitors can dip their fingers or fill their bottles. There is also a statue of St. Bernard holding a book and a staff, which was donated by Canon Mooney in 1989.

The well is situated on a hilltop with a panoramic view of the countryside. There are benches and picnic tables for visitors to relax and enjoy the scenery. There is also a grotto dedicated to Our Lady, which was built by Fr Joe O’Brien in 2004.

St. Bernard’s Holy Well is open to the public all year round, but it is especially busy on August 20th, when mass is celebrated at 7 pm by the parish priest. Many people come to honor St. Bernard and ask for his intercession.

St. Bernard’s Holy Well is easy to access by car or foot from Abbeyknockmoy village. There is a signpost on the R339 road that points to Knockroe Hill, where the well is located. There is also a car park near the well for visitors. St. Bernard’s Holy Well is a hidden gem in Galway that offers a glimpse into the rich religious and cultural heritage of Ireland. It is also a place of peace and tranquility, where you can connect with nature and yourself.


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St. Bernard's Well



Beautiful knockroe hill

August 27, 2023

I used to go to the holy well every summer,in the 1970s and early 1980s,with my sisters and parents. We’d travel from Bristol,UK, to see nan,my uncle and my aunties.My Irish nan,Delia forde, from lisiniskea,would walk with us around the holy well, many times praying, and leaving a stone each time by the entrance. This was done by my mother as a child too,as was by all the village and surrounding area. A little further down away from the well to your right,was a much smaller well,my nan would wash her sore legs with the holy water. Mum would ask me and my 2 older sisters to dip our feet in the special water as it heals,so we did. Beautiful memories,warm kind people in those days,knockroe hill is beautiful to sit down at the top of,take in the stunning scenery from far and wide,and breathe in the unique fresh air,that is Ireland.

Amanda Sarkozi