People here have been debating whether or not St Patrick spent some time during his Irish travels in the Kiltimagh area.
"How could the Holy Well at Carrowdangan – once the sacred well of the druids – be called St Patrick’s Well", they argued, "if the saint himself was not associated with it?"
It is said that St Patrick travelled from "Kilmaine to Cuil More…his next halt was in Mag Foimsen, the country about Ballinamore where he left Conan a priest, at St Patrick’s Well".
This may be so, but commentators on church affairs put a different interpretation on his journeys. They query that the saint made all these journeys.
Instead they see his journeys in the context of the struggle for primacy in the Irish church between the big three Irish churches – Armagh, Kildare and Iona.
One supporter of Armagh’s claim was Bishop Tirechan, a Mayo writer. His work on St Patrick was written with one aim in mind.
He was given, or had undertaken, the task…to bolster Armagh’s claims against those of its rivals. He was not an historian, but rather a seanachai…and his method was to construct countrywide tours by Patrick in the course of which the saint came to various places where he decided to found churches, or succeeded in having land granted to him.
The places thus named could then be claimed by the principal patrician church, that of Armagh. Armagh could claim that all places names lay within its sphere of influence.
So, back to the original question: did St Patrick come to Kiltimagh? There is no proper evidence to answer the question, and accordingly we shall never know. From a paper delivered to Kiltimagh Historical Society by Dr Nollaig O’Muraile
Extract from Kiltimagh: Our Life & Times, reproduced by kind permission of the authors.