Water Conversations - Ireland 2014

Boden's Lost Water

Irish ash, felt, screen prints on linen, digital projections, electrical generation system.

Solar panel 125W / 12V DC + Wind Turbine 50W / 12V DC>Charge Controller > dump >Battery 12V DC >Inverter 230V AC > LED projectors.

The water from St Bodens Well in Lacken on the shores of the Blessington Lake in Co Wicklow was reputed to cure arthritis and toothache. Cures were effected by drinking the water and bathing affected limbs in the small springs around the well, water was sent around the world to cure those who couldn't travel to the site. It is reported that the well was created by a holy man Father Germaine who placed two fish in it and said that for as long as there were fish in the well, the waters would have curative powers. A woman who took a gallon of well water home 'to wet the tea' found it wouldn't boil or heat at all, on inspection she found two little Cailleach Rua (stone loach) fish in the pan.

The well and its waters was lost twice and has now disappeared. 

The first losing began at 10 am on the 3rd March 1940 when the valley was flooded by damming the River Liffey at Poulaphouca to create the Poulaphouca Reservoir and Hydroelectric power station. The reservoir is one of two major sources of Dublin's drinking water. In order to create the reservoir and dam numerous farms were lost, 78 houses and 3 bridges were demolished and St Boden's Well submerged.

In 1977 when the level of the lake was lowered to allow for dam repairs, some locals piped St Boden's well water to the shore and built a replica well structure complete with the original stone cross, within a week the cross was stolen and the well vandalised. 

With the site now so overgrown with brambles and shrubbery its second life too has been lost.

Many thanks to Tom Bowen for sharing his local knowledge of Poulaphouca and archive research material, Liam Sharkey, Anthony Collins, Mick O'Hara, Amy Walsh, John Beattie and John Keenlysides for the engineering of the electrical generation system.

Boden’s Lost Water was commissioned by the Mermaid Arts Centre, Co Wicklow Ireland and curated by Eilís Lavelle for the group exhibition “ Towards a Dialogue of the Possible”.