St. Helen's Well

After all, I was a very good girl and never told lies and could see no difficulties on the road to sainthood. . .

St. Helen's Well

by Helen McCormack

The holiday was great but the truly great was knowing this coast and rock are home.

I love our writing meet-up, and I dread it too. Will this Saturday reveal I am empty? Will the well of words and visions dry up? Like the well I made in the Kildangan ditch?

We cycled the 6 miles to the Japanese Garden – a magical place, the Path of Life done in small stony paths and beautiful plants and unusual rocks: all in child-scale measure, and a red tea-house, across a little bridge, with sliding wooden doors.

After the magical Japanese journey, Mam and Dad would wheel over the road into the wilder boggy land with a sign to St. Brigid's Well – it too had its magic and clean drinking water. St. Brigid had founded a convent in Kildare in the long-long-ago.

I always liked open spaces. I liked the "great outdoors" of our not too big garden where I would ramble with a stick knocking tall grasses or the heads of dandelions with a sense of doing good. The bank with the thorny hedge separated us from the Lennon's field, where they kept their donkey, but it was only a short way up the road to climb in over the gate.

One summer morning I roamed around Lennon's field and inspiration dropped as I looked at the dyke formed by our garden bank: I would dig a Well. It would be all ready for the day when it would be St. Helen's Well: After all, I was a very good girl and never told lies and could see no difficulties on the road to sainthood and by digging the well I could save others the work later. So I went straight home, put Daddy's spade through the hedge and ran back to the field.

God was in agreement because the digging was not too difficult and the earth was quite soft. I made a fine round hole. I returned home with the spade and got a bucket and went to the village pump for water. I planned on filling the well bucket by bucket but going home between times so as to rest.

Later when I went with the second bucketful I discovered the water had disappeared but surely that one would remain. A later visit proved it too had disappeared.

A grain of doubt about the road to sainthood began to dampen the project: I decided to abandon the plan and tell no-one of my endeavour – something must not have been quite right and I could not risk being laughed at. Then I heard Mammy calling us in for lunch.