The unique Irish water I am about to inform ye about in a yarn that will blow your minds is not of the same family as the holy and often miraculous water found in the Marian village of Knock in County Mayo. It is not holy water at all.
Neither has it any connection with the sulphurous spa waters that have made Lisdoonvarna world famous. The Lisdoonvarna water, in my opinion, may well have health benefits but it has a foul taste and odor.
The Killaloe water in the tumbler before me as I write, on the other hand, tastes like cool and clear manna from paradise. And that is only a small facet of its special qualities.
Some of ye who keep in touch with the home situation will be well aware that water has been a boiling issue here in recent months. This is because of the government's plan to hit us all with water rates for the first time ever.
The move has brought hundreds of thousands of angry citizens on to the streets in protest marches. The outcome is still up in the air in fact, and the government is creaking at the seams as a result.
The Killaloe special water I am introducing you to today, thankfully, is not involved in the dispute. This crystal treasure reposes mysteriously in the bottom of a historic well and is not driven through the piped system which serves the town. It might not be your standard holy water but, for sure, it is very spiritual and special stuff as you will now learn.
I will cut a centuries-old story to the bone by revealing that since I arrived in the heritage town of Killaloe on the banks of the Shannon about two months ago -- the town that was the capital of Ireland in the 11th century heyday of the great King Brian Boru -- I joined up with the community group of modern Dalcassians in the town's Men's Shed and through them have been briefed about the unique Tobermurragh Well down on the pier by the Shannon. And there is a mighty lode of folklore and tradition indeed attached to Tobermurragh.
History as we know it, my friends, is often enough a blunt instrument until polished and refined by the arteries of folklore which flow so freely in this land. For example, we generally believe that Brian Boru defeated the Vikings at Clontarf on Good Friday of 1014.
That is broadly true, but the facts are that the old king was then so weak and doddery that about all he could do on the day was kneel and say his prayers on the edge of the battlefield whilst his troops were magnificently led by his son Murrough who, descendants tell me, was both the brain and the brawn on that watershed day in Irish history.
And what makes Tobermurragh Well so special is that when his eldest son Murrough, that King Brian saw to it that he was baptized with total immersion in the well when he was about two days old.
A wag was probably pulling my left leg when he said that Murrough actually stood up in the well during the christening, called out for a helmet and sword in perfect Irish of course and asked to be pointed towards the nearest nest of bloody Vikings. That is what the man told me anyway and I am passing it on.
The truth is that there is a great veneration locally for the well, and it actually was the water source for old Killaloe for many years before piped supplies eventually arrived.
Anyway, since the government has become hardline about water lately, our Men's Shed group is determined to protect the historic well properly by restoring its ancient fortification of beautiful ancient capstones and ring stones.
Some of those are still available but others are not and, by our standards, this is quite a major project and beyond the capacity of our little kitty.
It occurs to me, however, that since many locals believe that even a few fluid ounces of the magic water added to any baptismal font anywhere in the world will guarantee a healthy and beautiful life for the child involved, especially maybe an O’Brien child, that some of you out in the Diaspora might like to assist us in an exercise which, at the very least, enriches the great heritage stock of King Brian's old and lovely town. You will qualify for a bottle of Murrough's sacred enough water by offering us any assistance at all, however token. The Men's Shed is currently based at the Community and Family Resource Centre, Main Street, Killaloe, Co. Clare, Ireland and the email contact for our Shed group there is [email protected]
It would be lovely if a few of you came aboard but sure we will get the job done anyway in the end, one way or the other. But your help would speed it up and, somehow, be a historic gesture as well.
I am going to empty the glass now.