Gleann-na-nGealt is called the Valley of the Mad, because of a belief that a cure for insanity exists in a well which is situated in the valley.
Legend has it that the name is associated with Gall, who was king of Ulster and was cured of madness when he drank from the well and eat the watercress growing in its waters. Ancient history also tells of “Bolcan” King of France who was also restored to full health when he drank from the well fleeing from the battle of Ventry harbour.
In the 12th. century tale of “An Bhuile Shuibhne”, Gleann-na-nGealt is said to be the place where Mad Sweeney found peace when he was banished to wander Ireland for a year and a day. Mad Sweeney was one of the early kings of Munster and recent historians link him with King Arthurs Merlin the Magician.
A book called “On The Trail of Merlin” published some years ago tells of Merlins wanderings throughout the British Isles and includes details of his stay in Gleann-na-nGealt. Tom Batt O Connor oldest resident of the valley says that people came to the Glen by instinct. Many tales abound of people coming raving mad and going away cured.
Tom Batt O Connor at the Mad Stone Gleann na nGealt
A stone near the well is called the Mad Stone, with a deep hollow in the centre of it. Legend has it that a local woman milked her cow onto the stone to provide for those who came during the night. A river crossing nearby is called Ath na Gealtan, The fools crossing.
Camp is steeped in local history and there are numerous archaeological sites in the area. Local people will tell you where they are. Watch this site for more information on local history over the next few weeks.