Gleann na nGealt

February  -  Sheep on mountain art Gleann-na-nGealt   -  Brigid O Connor

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.   The valley is about 2 miles west of the village of Camp on the Annascaul road to Dingle.

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,  now passed on to his eternal reward said that people came to the Glen by instinct.   And in the old Irish writings and historical annals there are stories of people coming to Gleann na nGealt 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.

In July, 2012 a chemical analysis was carried out on the waters of Gleann – na – nGealt and at Tobar na nGealt at the end of the valley (near Brigid O Connor’s house) there was found to be 55.6  of the chemical Lithium, ppb in the water.     This was much higher than than the Lithium content recorded in other water samples in the locality.   The test was carried out by Tralee Scientist Dr. Henry Lyons and Dr. Paidi O Domhnaill, local resident.    Sibeal Teoranta, West Kerry produced a  television documentary and this information and the stories associated with the cure was relayed on the series “Cogar” on TG4 in October 2012.    The chemical Lithium is often used in the treatment of mental illness and it would suggest that people in olden times came to the valley for the cure and that there was indeed some basis to the story of the “cure in the water”.

If you are in the area and would like to hear more, contact Brigid O Connor – 066 7130185 or email –





One thought on “Gleann na nGealt

  1. Hi Brigid,
    I’d like to visit the well. Is it easy to find?
    Some friends and I are planning to visit Holy Wells all over Ireland and do a small film project on it.
    Looking forward to hearing about it.

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