This website is brought to you by Seomra Ranga.com. It can be used as a history resource when teaching about Penal Times in Ireland, or it can be used when dealing with the history of the faith in Ireland. It could also be used as the basis for the study of your own local holy well. Classroom resources can be downloaded from the "Resources" section. I hope this web site will prove to be a valuable resource for teachers.
The derivation and meaning of the word "Tobernalt" is uncertain and is open to interpretation. It is an Anglicisation of an Irish phrase, but the uncertainty stems from which actual Irish phrase the name derives from.
Eamonn Boylan holds that the name is more likely to mean the "Well in the Cliff" (Tobar san Aill). This would make sense as the stream comes down through a cleft in the mountain immediately behind the well. This can be clearly seen in the photos section.
However, others believe that the name may mean "Well of the Insane" (Tobar na nGealt). This interpretation may be given some credence as the Cistercians used the nearby Cottage Island as an asylum for the lepers and insane in medieval times. It's almost certain that these people would have rowed the short distance across the lake to visit the Holy Well in search of a cure.
As can be seen from the homepage of this site, other authors refer to this holy well as "Tobar an Ailt" or "Tober nAlt". Whichever meaning is the correct one, locals simply refer to this special place as "The Holy Well".