The Cailleach and The Well of Youth

18 Feb

On the lands of Knock in Mull (an cnoc Muileach) at the point of Sròn na Crannalaich, near Loch Ba, there is a well, reputed to be ‘The Well of Youth.’ Thither Bera went regularly at ‘the dead of night,’ before bird tasted water or dog was heard to bark, and by then drinking from it kept herself always at sixteen years of age. At last, when making her way to the well on a calm morning (and such mornings are very beautiful in the West Highlands), she heard a dog barking. She exclaimed:

‘Little knows any living wight,
When mischance may befall him ;
For me early has the dog called,
In the calm morn above Loch Ba.
I had enough of spells
To serve the seed of Adam,
But when the mischance was ripe
It could not be warded off.’

Having said this, she fell, crumbling into dust. She lived so long that she had above five hundred children. These were buried by her in the ‘Burial Place of Hosts’ in Ireland, according to one version of the rhyme, and according to another in Cill-mo-Neacain in lona.

She buried Nine times nine by seven,
In the Burial Place of Hosts in Ireland.’

The latter place is said to be the same as the stony patch of ground, not far from the cathedral, called Cill-mo-ghobhlain or Cill-mo-ghobhannain.

John Gregorson Campbell, The Sharp-Witted Wife, in The Scottish Historical Review Volume XII, 1915, p413-414.

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Posted by on February 18, 2012 in Uncategorized


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