Apr 29, 2011

The Legend of Connla's Well

Connla's Well is a legendary place either under the sea or in the Otherworld. It's not clear who Connla was, but the well is said to be a source of wisdom. Nine hazel trees bend over it (I know, it's under the sea, but use your imagination!) and they drop hazel nuts into the water. There are salmon in the well that feed on the hazelnuts. One can gain wisdom in three ways: eat the hazelnuts after they drop into the water, drink the well water (Under the sea? Well, no matter!), or eat the salmon that have eaten the nuts.

Of course, there's always a catch. Remember the Garden of Eden? A woman named Sinann tried to gain wisdom from the well and the waters rose up and drowned her. The magic well is meant only for the gods, after all. But this resulted in the River Shannon coming forth from the well. It's also said that all the rivers in Ireland are fed from Connal's Well.

This might be a lesson on greed. You know what the Irish say: Better to own a trifle than want a great deal.

From Irish Literature, Vol. 8 by Justin McCarthy, et. al. (1904)


A cabin on the mountain-side hid in a grassy nook,
With door and window open wide, where friendly stars may look,

The rabbit shy can patter in, the winds may enter free—
Who throng around the mountain throne in living ecstasy.

And when the sun sets dimmed in eve, and purple fills the air,
I think the sacred hazel-tree is dropping berries there,
From starry fruitage waved aloft where Connla's well o'er-flows;

For, sure, the immortal waters run through every wind that blows.
I think, when night towers up aloft and shakes the trembling dew,
How every high and lonely thought that thrills my spirit through
Is but a shining berry dropped down through the purple air,
And from the magic tree of life the fruit falls everywhere.

Footnote reads: " Sinend, daughter of Lodan Lucharglan, son of Ler, out of the Land of Promise, went to Connla's Well, which is under sea, to behold it. That is a well at which are the hazels of wisdom and inspirations, that is, the hazels of the science of poetry, and in the same hour their fruit and their blossom and their foliage break forth, and then fall upon the well in the same shower, which raises upon the water a royal surge of purple."—The Voagey of Bran.


  1. Thanks for posting this, I loved it!

  2. Hello, I really like this post and I'd like to use the salmon drawn in my blog, of course quoting your blog. Could you give me your permission?

    1. Sorry. I posted this so long ago I don't know where it came from. I'm much better now at attributing photos.