Historian says Luas line passing Trinity would destroy well associated with St Patrick

Railway Procurement Agency says the holy well was mapped incorrectly

The construction of the cross- city Luas line will destroy a holy well associated with St Patrick, Jonathan Swift and the introduction of frogs to Ireland, a historian has claimed.

Gary Branigan, author of Ancient & Holy Wells of Dublin, said the line would pass over St Patrick's Well as it makes its way past Trinity College. The underground well would be destroyed in the process, he said.

The Railway Procurement Agency said it was aware of the well, which is a recorded monument, but said it would not be affected by the Luas works.

"Few pedestrians walking along modern-day Nassau Street will be aware that beneath their feet lies a hidden and ancient site of pilgrimage associated with none other than St Patrick himself," Mr Branigan said. "Nassau Street itself was called Patrick's Well Lane until it was renamed in the 18th century after the accession to the throne of William III, ruler of the house of Orange-Nassau."


Mr Branigan has called on Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar to review the route in order to preserve the well.

However the aagency said the well’s location had been incorrectly mapped and was actually under the north side of Nassau Street at the junction with Dawson Street and would not be under the new line.

“Appropriate constraints to protect the well during construction have also been included in the works contracts,” a spokeswoman said, “such as the requirement for continuous monitoring of vibration levels from construction activities in the area and the setting of appropriate vibration limits to ensure that no damage will occur to the well”.

In 1729 the well ran dry, inspiring Jonathan Swift to write a satirical poem.

Legend has it that frogs were introduced to Ireland by a Protestant who, “to show his zeal against popery”, brought frog spawn from Liverpool and deposited it in the well.

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly is Dublin Editor of The Irish Times