Roscommon Town Heritage
Taking a step back in time...
Follow Roscommon Town Heritage on Facebook

History & Heritage

History & Heritage > People > St Coman's Well

St Coman's Well

The well appears on the Essex map of 1736 and a lease of 1800, and the field has always been known as the Hummaun field and the well as Dabhnach Chomain or Ducomane. It no longer produces water and was covered with loose boulders until Dunnes Supermarket was built there and there now is a monument at the site of the former well.

St. Coman’s Well and its links to the eighteenth century Roman Catholic Church in Chapel Lane, later a National School and St. Coman’s Church of Ireland Church and the Dominican Priory of St.Mary, Roscommon.

St. Coman is reported to be the founder of an ecclesiastical foundation at Roscommon town, but clear facts of his life and influence on the fledging town of the sixth to eight centuries are shrouded in the mists of time.

The Irish Annals point to him being a disciple of St. Finnian of Clonard in the mid sixth century and also a later Coman who flourished in the mid eight century dates of his death variously given as 745-7. His reputation was sufficient for the expanding town to be named after him and also the development of the geographical boundaries of the county finalised in the sixteenth century also bears his name; indeed there is evidence that his geographical development was of a shrinking variety as Roscommon was a much larger area in the centuries up to the posting of the English

Lord Deputy Henry Sydney in the 1570s, who finally ‘shired’ the county to more or less its present limits at that time.

The Well associated with St.Coman situated in a field near the Livestock Mart on the Circular Road (where Dunnes Stores was built), is the folklore of similar Wells around the country attests, must have been patronised  with great numbers of people during festivals  and fairs but it is uncertain if there was a specific pattern day; if there was, the day had been lost to us. Moreover, the Well is now very much neglected and would well repay development in a manner consistent with its religious history. It is now dried up for a century or more, and it is well known in Ireland that if a Holy well becomes dry for whatever reason, some charm has been at work and the Well’s reputation suffers accordingly. John  O’Donovan was finding out about this in Roscommon when working for the Ordnance Survey in 1838 during the compilation of the first county maps  at the scale of six inches to the mile. He visited many Wells in Roscommon and documented it in his letters: “Dabhach Chomain i.e. St. Coman’s Vat or Keeve, a holy well lying East of the town of Roscommon in the townland of Ballypheasant. This is now (29th July) completely dried up, but it is said to be a good spring in the Winter. The bushes growing over it still exhibit a few rags which at once denoted its sanctity…”

The supply of water at St. Coman’s Well could have been affected by the drainage channels constructed in mid last century (18th) at Loughnaneane beside Roscommon Castle a mile distant, in order to expedite the flow through the Loughbrook to the Hind River, a short distance to the East. The river was probably deepened as well. This would have occurred during the landlord improvement schemes mostly by the Earl of Essex and also the local government of the time, the Grand Jury. One of the earliest map references we have for this area is one made for the Earl of Essex in 1796 leasing land to a surveyor, Bryan Hanley. The area is marked as ‘Ducomane’ and referred to forty years later as Dabhach Chomain by John O’Donovan – the Washing Place of St. Coman.

Whether St. Coman had a church in this area close to the well is uncertain, but the first substanial church of St. Coman was established some distance away westwards on the site of the present St. Coman’s Church of Ireland in Church Street. . This is the site where there has been continued christian  religious practice for over a thousand years. Clear details of events during the suppression in the mid 1500s are unknown to us, even the articitectural form of the church at that time is not known but a map prepared by the Governor of Connacht, Nicholas Malby in 1580 and sent to the English Government in the hope of getting finance to improve the town of Roscommon, has a drawing of a church on it and it is possible that this is a mind’s eye view of St. Coman’s Church of Roscommon as he knew it. In 1578 this church, nine quarters of land, tithes of eight villages, a number of other rectories and the Dominican Priory were granted to Malbay as a recognition of his talents in holding the Lordship of Roscommon for the Queen.

St.Coman’s Well & Lanesboro Street

Lanesboro Street  named after one George Lane  of the Irish Parliament  on 1700s and whose residence was at the Castle of Rathcline on the County Longford shore of Lough Ree. He gives his name to the Leinster side of the ancient village of Ballyleague. In the centre of a field adjoining Circular Road is St. Coman’s Well. It is thought to have a connection with the ecclesiastic St. Coman who gave his name to the town and County. An estate map from 1799 shows this area of land as Ducomane. The famous lexicographer of the last 19th century, John O’Donovan called it Dabhach Chomain,  Coman’s Washing Place. Even though its early history is unknown to us a slab with a Crucifixion scene has survived and is medieval or even earlier in origin. The slab/plaque is displayed on wall down Chapel Lane.

Further Reading Sources:
Volume 4 - 1992 Roscommon Historical & Archaeological Society Journal
  • Page 53 Photo: "The hawthorn bush directly in front midfield, marks St.Coman's Well - the birthplace of the county."

Volume 7 – 1998 Roscommon Historical & Archaeological Society Journal
  • Front Page Drawing: Crucifixion Plaque – St. Comans Well
  • Page 4: Front Cover (Crucifixion Plaque – St. Coman’s Well) & Back Cover (Map: Ducomane – “the washing place of Coman”)
  • Back Page Map: Ducomane – “the washing place of Coman”
Roscommon Association Yearbook 1980
  • Page 13: Notes on the Armorial Bearings for County Roscommon
Roscommon Association Yearbook 1985
  • Page 61: The Holy Wells of Roscommon by Michael Fitzmaurice
Roscommon Association Yearbook 1993
  • Page 54: The Well of St. Coman – The Birthplace of our County by John Kerrigan