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Tobar na Dabhaich

Sacred Well


"The hardships suffered by some people in Kildalton Parish were, if oral tradition is to be believed, brought to an end by an outbreak of "The Plague", which is said to have wiped out the entire population of a settlement of some nine houses still known as "The Plague Village". The ruins of the village can still be seen near St. Michael's well, some 2 kilometres northwest of Ardbeg. According to local tradition, a young man from the village, who had travelled the world, came back to Ardbeg as a crew member of a ship. On a brief visit to his native village he fell ill and died of the plague. The villagers immediately put themselves into quarantine. people from the surrounding area brought food each day to a rock near the infected village. When the food was no longer taken away, they knew that the last of the villagers had died. In due course the houses were burned, leaving only the stone walls and a corn kiln to mark the spot where the village had stood. The story, which is referred to in a guide to Islay published by the Isle of Islay Federation, Scottish Women's Rural Institutes in 1968, has such a ring of truth about it that it deserves a place in history."

(Source: Clifford N. Jupp "The History of Islay, 1994, p. 214)

This clearly relates to this site – the well is the requisite distance north west of Ardbeg, and the name St Michael's Well makes sense in view of its proximity to Druim Claiggean Mhicheil - "ridge of Michael's good field". There are ruins of the deserted habitation of Solon immediately to the north east of the well – whether the plague story is true is unknown. I believe that Solon itself was lived in within living memory. There is also a nearby hut circle marked on the map.
Posted by Neil-NewX
26th November 2006ce

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