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COLMANSWELL “For Scenery and Heritage”

Tobar Cholmáin “Saint Colmans Well”

“Adieu, dear maids and colleens grand, I’m bidding you farewell,

Each sunny dale and lovely vale around dear Colmanswell,

These lovely maids and colleens fond all others do excel,

For scenery and beauties we must come to Colmanswell”.

Michael Curran, The Poet of Rockhill

Colmanswell is a relatively modern placename. The original name for the area was Cluain Comardae, alias Clouncoragh, The Meadow of the Sign. The modern name is derived from the holy well, dedicated to Saint Colmáin. Local medieval place names which have survived into modern usage include Cregane (The Rocky Place) and Gortroe (The Red Field).

Colmanswell has 334 memorials, all of which have been digitally surveyed and are viewable if you follow this link:  Colmanswell Historic Graves click here


Colmáin of Cloyne (522-600AD), was the son of Lenin, who according to legend was descended from Mogh Nuadat, King of Munster. Medieval records say that Colmáin was brought up a Pagan. As a teenager, he chose the profession of Filí (bard/ poet) an indication that he was highly educated. On completing his training as a filí­, Colmáin was employed in Cashel at the seat of Aodh Caomh, King of Munster. He was to be a poet and historian, who was required to record the deeds of the kings, chieftains and heroes of Munster.

Legend claims that Aodh Caomh became the first Christian King of Munster. Colmáin, son of Lenin, also converted to Christianity at this time. His name was equivalent to the Latin, Columbus, or dove and was meant to reflect his destiny as a servant of God.

At the age of 48, Colmáin became a cleric and established his first church at Cluain Uama ui Cloyne in County Cork, where he lived in a cave which extends deep into the ground. This, one must suppose, was a place of safety from the secular world. It was here also that he built his oratory, which became known as Saint Colman’s Chapel. One biographer claimed that he was then a ‘religious and holy presbyter, who afterwards became a famous bishop.

Today, Colmáin is best remembered as the patron saint of the Diocese of Cloyne. The round tower and cathedral at Cloyne was a testament to its importance in medieval times. The saints feast day is celebrated throughout Cloyne diocese on 24 November.


In the 10th century, while visiting the monastery at Colmanswell, the abbot of Armagh was captured by the Vikings. Saint Patrick’s Shrine, which was carried by the abbot, was taken from him and destroyed. Ruins of a medieval church in the graveyard at Colmanswell, were probably erected on the site of the original monastic church. It is believed to date from the 15th century. The later church was adapted for Protestant use after the Reformation in the 16th century, but fell into ruin by the middle of the 18th century. An 18th century wooden Penal Cross, dating from a period when Catholics in Ireland were oppressed, is still kept locally.

The old Catholic parish church, beside the Community House, was built in 1837. The present church was erected in 1970.


The topographer, Samuel Lewis, writing in 1837, said that the medieval parish church of Clouncoragh had long since fallen into decay. He also described the holy well, near the church ruin, as reputed to possess great efficacy, and is held in high veneration by the peasantry of the surrounding country who assemble here in great numbers on the anniversary of the saint, and at other times.

In former times, pieces of cloth were attached to a tree that grew near the well. The well was noted for curing sore eyes and other minor ailments. Folklore claims that a lame man, who lived some distance away, was brought by horse and cart to the well. His lameness was cured and he left his crutches behind him. He later removed the crutches, which he sold, however, because of his greed and his failure to appreciate the miracle that had been granted to him, his lameness returned.

Some historians have incorrectly attributed Saint Colman’s Well to Colman of Kilmacduagh. The saints pattern (feast) day was celebrated at Colmanswell on 29 October but is now celebrated on 24 November, the feast of Saint Colman of Cloyne. Until the late 19th century, the annual pattern (patrons) day was celebrated at the well. Worship there declined in the early 20th century but enjoyed a revival towards the end of the century.


Would be good to use an old photo with an extended caption Would appreciate same and appropriate information as soon as possible.


Visitors from four counties Cork, Limerick, Tipperary and Kerry regularly come to the Colmanswell Rambling House to enjoy the traditional Irish entertainmaint of the Rambling House Season. The old school building, which was renovated by the local community in 2000, is the venue an annual summer programme of traditional music, song and dance is held in the house. The community also operates a summer programme of activities and language courses for foreign students who come to Ireland to learn English.


The Leahy family consisted of seven brothers and three sisters. Six of the boys Paddy, Con, Joe, Tom, Mick and Tim – were all outstanding athletic champions and record breakers. Jack became involved in breeding thoroughbred horses.

In the 1906 Athens Olympics, Con took a gold medal in the high jump. Joe Leahy was an outstanding pole-jumper and was successful in several county and national events. Tom came to the limelight in 1904, when his dashing and graceful style pulled off victories in the 100 yards, 220 yards and 440 yards races. Mick Leahy was a good average jumper and 100 yard runner. prior to his untimely death of flu, during the great epidemic of 1918/19, Tim Leahy, the youngest, achieved heights of 6ft 6ins, but did not live long enough to attain his dream of clearing 6ft 8ins.