The holy well of a blind woman who brought water to a drought-stricken Laois through the power of prayer is a piece of local heritage worth commemorating, according to Cllr Kathleen O’Brien.
The Portlaoise town councillor is calling on Laois County Council to erect a heritage plaque at Biddie Aghaboe’s well located on Grattan Street beside the railway bridge in Portlaoise. Dating the well back to the 17th or 18th century, Cllr O’Brien explained that the eponymous Biddie was a blind woman hailing from Aghaboe who brought water to the county during a time of drought.
“It’s a holy well,” announced Cllr O’Brien at the recent town council meeting. “Biddie lived on her own and was blind, she had a cow that was her main source of income. There was a severe water shortage at the time and when the drought came she started to pray and water appeared.”
She went on to explain that when the railway bridge was built, an alcove and a door were installed at the well.
“We’re very proud of the heritage of our town, but not enough sites are listed to promote tourism,” she said. “I grew up with Biddie Aghaboe’s well.”
A written reply from the heritage officer, Catherine Casey explained that the new Laois Heritage Plan will promote the commemoration of important historical people, and the erection of plaques at sites of note will be considered, subject to funding.