Historian's concern for ancient underground well in path of new Luas line
THIS is the 1,600-year-old well which lies deep underground in Dublin’s city centre.
St Patrick’s Well, believed to have been built in the fourth century, lies deep underneath the pavement of Nassau Street, beside Trinity College.
The well is an ancient pilgrimage site and was blessed by St Patrick.
Despite assurances from planners that the well will not be damaged during the construction phase of the new Luas line, one city historian is fearful the project could harm it.
Gary Branigan, author of ‘Ancient and Holy Wells of Dublin’, fears tjat the €368m Luas Cross City construction project to link the Red and Green lines will destroy the underground well.
The Railway Procurement Agency has insisted that the ancient site will not be affected by the proposed Luas works.
The proposed route of the €368m Luas Cross City construction project to link the Red and Green lines of the Luas tram from St Stephen's Green to Broombridge will pass directly over the well, located under Trinity College Provost's House at the entrance to the university's Arts building on Nassau Street.
Mr Branigan also claims that the street sign – which he said was the only thing that revealed the holy well’s presence - has been removed in recent weeks.
“The street sign for Nassau Street has been replaced in the last five-and-a-half weeks and the words Sráid Thobar Phádraig meaning St Patrick’s Well Street have been removed,” he said.
Nassau Street was originally called Sráid Thobar Phádraig during the 18th century and up until recent weeks, the old Irish name still appeared alongside its modern name.
‘‘The sign was changed by Dublin City Council on the advice of the Placenames Commission of the Department of the Gaeltacht. I have not been able to get anybody to explain the rationale behind the name change,’’ he said.
The historian has called on Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar to review the proposed route to ensure the ancient well will be protected. He also lodged a formal complaint yesterday with the Language Commissioner who is responsible for the official naming of places.
The RPA insisted that precautions will be taken during construction to ensure the well is not damaged and said this was part of workers contracts.
The underground well remains closed to the public. It is about four feet deep underground and lies behind a crumbling locked gate. It originally lay almost 40 feet deep in its original state.